As a divorced mother of three children, I am often accorded a status just shy of sainthood. "How do you do it?" friends ask, with that mixture of pity and awe that single moms seems to elicit. I sigh deeply and murmur bravely, "You do what you have to do." There's no question that single mothers face significant difficulties, not the least of which is financial hardship. And there's no question that kids miss the parent who's not with them. If you've got children, being married is undoubtedly better -- but not at all costs. Being a single mom is infinitely preferable to living in a bad marriage, and it even has some things worth celebrating. Here are a few of them.
No more fighting about who does what. Theoretically, the workload required to raise kids alone should be twice as heavy as when two parents are present. But in fact, the energy it takes to argue over who does what can be far more draining than the task itself. Consider all the time and effort that goes into figuring out a system of sharing chores, nagging your spouse to fulfill his part of the bargain, resenting him for not doing it, and then figuring out a new system that probably won't work either. I promise you, doing it alone is far easier.
There's no one to undermine my authority. When I say the word, it's the word. When I call out, "Bedtime," there's no one to say, "Aw, let them stay up another half hour." It's a big responsibility to make all the choices yourself, but decision making is a big responsibility whether you're married or single. When you're single, you understand how enormous your charge is and you take it more seriously because you know there isn't anyone else around to defer to.
The closet is all mine. As a single parent, you are free to indulge all those little idiosyncrasies that you try to rein in when you live with someone else. If you're a neatnik, you can give in to your compulsions and hang things in military order by color, size, or type of garment; if you're not, you can wallow in disarray. You can sleep late or retire early, eat crackers in bed, watch old movies, leave all the windows open, let the dog sleep next to you. After years of tenuously maintained compromise, you get to do what you want when you want.