I’m a single mom—and I’m judged differently on my parenting because of it

I want to know why the script is different when approaching mothers like me. Why is it that if you're Mrs. So and So who serves on the PTA and lives in a nice subdivision, the language is "You're not failing," but when you're a Ms. you're automatically assumed at risk?

single parenting

I have a confession: Lately, I've been bitter about motherhood. You may have just chuckled to yourself and nodded in agreement or you might have been shocked to read that. Who would complain about receiving unconditional love from little people you created? Who doesn't enjoy wiping tiny noses and celebrating newly completed milestones?

I mean, every mom shares the same reality, right? Aren't we all in this together?

The truth is, it's not actual motherhood that has been placing a burden on me, it's just my version of it. The unforgiving version. The marginalized version.

I follow all the major mom sites and am part of several social media parenting groups. I appreciate the attempt to unify all mothers, to eliminate judgment and to create a safe space for mothers to get real about the nitty-gritty of it all.


But I can't help but feel like an outside observer to this mysterious world of acceptance and receptiveness to truth. And it leaves me feeling more alone, unseen and unsupported as a mom.

When I scroll on social media, I come across trending hashtags for being a "bad mom." Recently, a mom in my picky eaters Facebook group jokingly asked if anyone else's toddler is living off air lately and over 200 people commented or reacted to the post. There is even a meme circulating about moms texting one another saying, "I'm done. I'm selling my kid on eBay. Don't be silly, you made him. Sell him on Etsy!"

It seems to me like when other mothers vent, complain, make jokes or admit any type of fault or imperfection it is recognized as "normal" and "expected." Yet that same criteria have been used against me to try to label me as unfit.

Here's where I share another confession so you understand where I'm coming from: This time last year, I was under investigation by child protective services for possible neglect due to my autistic son's extreme sensory picky eating and struggle to put on weight. My son is a former 28-week preemie, and his weight gain had been an ongoing concern that was under continuous medical supervision and care.

From people who know me, or know of me and my family, I am constantly receiving praise as a mother. I was just told a few days ago that my children are seriously the best-behaved kids our sitter has ever watched. People comment on my social media photos and videos that my children are so smart and I was the perfect choice to be their mother.

Most of my friends, outside of a few really close ones, have absolutely no idea my parenting abilities have been in question and would be shocked. Yet, there I was, with a hospital social worker barging in and asking intrusive questions about where my children's father was, where my family was, and then concluding that she was deeply concerned about my lack of support system. As if someone would choose to be without a village. Isn't that what all moms need? Why would this be held against me?

The worst part is, a year after the original ordeal ended with unsubstantiated findings, child protective services have come back into our lives again with the intention of proving me to be something I am not. And I can't help but sit here and wonder where their justification comes from.

Would they look at me the same if I was married and my husband had been at the hospital with our special needs son?

Would the social worker give me such an attitude if I was a middle-class white woman living in a house with a big backyard and not a low-income single mother of color in public housing? What difference does that make for my parenting?

Why should I face judgment because I don't own a dishwasher to close away the dishes I haven't gotten to wash that day yet, or enough square footage in my housing unit to have a separate room to use for a playroom so I can close the door on my children's mess of toys?

I know I'm not the mom with a perfect blowout and full face of makeup waiting at the school bus stop at 7 am. I'm not the mom who has it all together 24/7 with a perfect Miss America smile plastered across her face. I'm not the mom whose laundry is always folded and neatly put away with an interior design that looks straight out of a Better Homes & Garden magazine.

But I love my children more than anything. I am a fierce mama bear and a strong advocate for my son's complex medical needs. I pack lunches, tie shoes, kiss boo-boos, and read bedtime stories. I research the ingredients in sunscreen and limit screen time per the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations.

I want to know why the script is different when approaching mothers like me. Why is it that if you're Mrs. So and So who serves on the PTA and lives in a nice subdivision, the language is "You're not failing," but when you're a Ms. you're automatically assumed at risk?

So to the mama who feels so alone and left out of the world, I see you. I've been there. I am there. I want a better world for our children and I believe we have to be the change we wish to see. I don't want my children left out simply because of their skin color or income level. I'm speaking up for all of you who feel like you have to fight to get the same respect other moms get no questions asked.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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