January 17, 2019
A 2018 Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that the share of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968, jumping from 13% to 32% in 2017. And overall, about one-in-five children, or 21%, are living with a solo mother, and 4% are living with a solo dad.
No matter how common single parenthood may be these days, mothers and fathers raising their kiddos without a partner still face a variety of financial, emotional, and social challenges. A mom of four from Austin, Texas named Maria-Theresa Sigua recently summed these up in what she originally called "The Single Mom's Anthem," which she shared on her blog Maria's Random Rants and on Reddit on Wednesday, January 16.
"I’m the one who explained why you left, the one who dealt with their anger, their frustration and tears," Sigua wrote. "I have defended you because it’s better than telling them to give up on you. And because it hurts less than hating you. I have paid for all their flights to see you, and even some of yours, so you saw them at all. I reminded you to call them on their birthdays, to text them during their bad weeks, and then pretended I didn’t. But I am the one who has been there, since day one and every day in between."
She said she's "the full-time mother, the part-time father, their financial advisers, their #1 fans, their Lyft service, their advocates, their therapists, and their life teachers." She "planned all their birthday parties and checked off their Christmas lists," as well as "reemed them when they missed classes, praised them when they got As, and consoled them when they didn’t get the grades they thought they deserved."
"Then I helped them look at colleges, filled out their financial aid, and edit their college applications," Sigua shared. "I signed their car notes, reviewed their leases, scheduled all their appointments, taught them how to budget and even cook themselves dinner."
She recalls having "had the hard conversations with them, the ones about sex, heartbreak, adulting, and how to care for their mental health," and the fact that she "watched and hurt with them for every single disappointment they have had since you left, and to be honest, even all the years before that."
Sigua explained, "I've taken all of their calls, including the scary ones that come after 2am. I've picked them up, literally and figuratively, when they were lost. I've taught them about love and loyalty, and also what bull shit smells like."
She then addressed her ex: "And while you complain about child support, I creatively find ways to pay the other 90% of their expenses you think you shouldn’t have to cover. I am the ride-or-die parent, the real-deal-superwoman-single mom, who has sacrificed much to give them lives that don’t lack, despite your absence. So, when you ask me with callousness and undeserved annoyance, 'What the hell do you want,' my simple answer is this- Be a good dad, a better man. Respect the mother of your children. And show some gratitude that while our children may carry your name, they bear all of my heart."
On her blog, commenters praised Sigua for the piece. One wrote, "Omg I’m crying…. I am so proud of you and everything you have accomplished. I look up to you and hope I have the strength you have, if and when I am in that situation. Thank you for sharing!" Another said, "Love this and I can relate fully. Thanks for this."
And on Reddit, the emotional rant was met with passionate comments, including one from a "Full-Time Father" who pointed out that this could be "The Single Parent's Anthem." To that, Sigua replied, "I stand corrected, my friend. It is definitely the single parent's anthem."
Sigua tells Parents.com that she's been a single mom since 2013. "I've had a brewing frustration that my three youngest children's father has been less than engaged in staying in the kids' lives on a regular basis, and some years he's spent months out of the picture without even a text," she shares. "I've taught the kids to love him despite these shortcomings and explained them away with, 'Your dad is the best kind of dad he knows how to be, and his arms'—and legs'—length away parenting style is part reflective of how he was parented.'"
Sigua says her kids have been understanding, loving, and forgiving of their father despite his absence. But recent incidents inspired her to write the anthem. Sigua recalls that her ex had asked her, "What do you want from me?" to which she responded, "Nothing, you don't get it, so it doesn't matter what I really want. So nothing."
"Hours after that call I replayed over and over what I wished I had said," Sigua shares. "And the words burned in my throat until I wrote them down. ... I needed to 'roar' on behalf of myself and every other single parent who has walked this road with me."
She says she also aimed for the piece "to illustrate to her ex and every other parent that parents like him, what it's like for the 'other' parent, the one who is left to carry the burdens and fill the void the absent parent has left."
With hope, as Sigua's anthem continues to go viral, it will send a powerful message to absent parents while reassuring single parents that they are not alone.