Great—another Hallmark holiday, as if picking out cards for your half-sister's secretary's niece's baptism wasn't enough already. Hoping to spark a national trend, American Singles Education Inc. is sponsoring a singles-mixer celebration in San Rafael, Calif. Single Mother's Day is May 8, the day before traditional Mother's Day.
As a single parent, I'm all for recognition of the hard work I do, but I really don't need a national holiday—I simply need the ability to be more than two places at once. Parenting is just a full-time job, regardless of your marital status or gender. Without a partner to help, the problem boils down to logistics: How do I care for my sick child and still go to work?
With all due respect to Rich Gosse, head of American Singles Inc. and author of eight books on the singles lifestyle, I don't think a hot date is going to remedy the prospect of dry cereal for breakfast when I discover the milk is sour once my child is in bed. But if the hot date will go to the grocery store for me, that's another matter ...
A true celebration for single parents would include free baby sitting we didn't have to arrange, food we didn't have to prepare, free massage, and countless baby-sitter references—only responsible ones with their own transportation. As far as celebrations go in my family, we just try to be nice to each other all the time, not just on specified "day" celebrations, and yes, we'll get flowers for Mom on Mother's Day, too.
My family and friends are invaluable support for me as a single parent every day, but not all single parents are so lucky. Here are some thoughtful ideas I've compiled from things done for me by family and friends: If they like to talk on the phone, call a single parent after the kids are asleep--this can be a lonely time of the day (or their only moment of peace and quiet, so don't talk too long). They may want someone to brag/complain to about something really wonderful/awful their child did that day.
• Share a baby-sitter at a single parent's house for a night out together, so you can drive the baby-sitter home, or let your friend's child sleep over at your house with the baby-sitter in charge until you get home. Your single-parent friend may get to sleep in!
• Offer to come hang out with a book after the kids are in bed so your friend can leave the house to go get that forgotten milk or take a brain-cleansing walk in the quiet of the evening.
• Offer to take pictures of single parents with their child or children so one day those children will know his or her parent really was at that fifth birthday party—they didn't just throw down a cake and leave.
• If your kids are friends with your single-parent friend's kids and they get along well, offer to trade out baby-sitting for the whole weekend. That way you both can look forward to get-away weekends.
• If the single parent is a hugger, give them a big hug and tell them something special you have noticed about their child.
In other words, in the same amount of time it would take you to drive to the store to pick out that card, pay for it and get it ready to mail, you could easily make your own sort of personal Hallmark moment-to-be-remembered for your single parent friends.
Emily Resmer is a single mom who writes about art for the JFP.