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Single mom-of-four asks people to stop judging mothers like her in powerful essay

In a powerful essay challenging the preconceived notions about what it means to be a single mother, she got candid about raising four kids by herself.

Single mom-of-four asks people to stop judging mothers like her in powerful essay
Representative Cover Image Source: Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

It's a mammoth responsibility and a difficult task to raise children as a couple itself, doing it by yourself is a whole different ballgame. Yet, single moms are held to an entirely different set of standards as compared to single fathers, and constantly face unrealistic expectations and pressures from society. One mom called out these double standards in a powerful essay for Scary Mommy earlier this year, where she got candid about being a single mom to four kids. In the piece titled "This Is What A Single Mom Really Feels Like," Ashley Rodgers — a writer and a full-time employee at a Missouri school district — challenged the preconceived notions about what it means to be a single mother.


"What do you picture when you hear 'single mom?'" she asked. "Do you imagine a woman more worried about her next drink than her son's baseball game? Maybe you picture a woman smoking a Virginia Slim on the rickety porch of a beat-up old trailer while her kids play down the road without any shoes on. To me, 'single mom' means so much more. It's the woman who sits at her desk worrying about how she's going to turn her lights back on before she picks her kids up from school. The woman who has maxed out every credit card she owns to make sure her kids have presents to open Christmas morning wrapped neatly under the dollar store Christmas tree."


Speaking to Good Morning America, Rodgers revealed that she and her ex-husband (with whom she had three children) split in 2016 after he was on deployment while Rodgers was pregnant with their second child. "He had a hard time coming back from that," she explained. "It came to the point where he had a bottle of whisky in one hand and a gun in the other and we just had to go our separate ways." Rodgers had a fourth child in February 2020 after entering a new relationship but since she and the baby's father live separately, most of the responsibility falls on her.

"I feel like the mental image of a single mother is so incredibly negative and we need to challenge that," said Rodgers. "I want [people] to think about what's behind the scenes and I want them to know that what you're seeing is a very small piece to a very large puzzle." In her essay, Rodgers detailed the hidden hardships many single mothers face almost every day while urging that readers hold back their silent judgments the next time they cross paths with a single mom. "You know that woman who was just a little too snippy with her kids in the checkout lane at Walmart? She was just called every curse word under the sun by her ex-husband because she wouldn't let him take the kids on her weekend... That woman, the one you silently judge, she has been through more hell than you can ever imagine."

"Here's the thing. You likely have no clue. These women, their armor is so strong you have no idea what really lies beneath it," Rodgers continued. She went on to call out the different expectations people may have of mothers versus fathers. "When dad sends the kids to school in clothes that don't match and hair that hasn't been brushed, teachers might snicker and say 'Well, he tried.' But God forbid a single mother forgets to dress their child up for spirit week with fancy braids and coordinating outfits to boot. 'Does she care at all?', 'She must not be well,' 'Those poor children,'" she wrote.


"This single mother, she's me. She's also that cranky lady at the bank and the waitress who forgot to get your drink refills for the second time. Sometimes, her children forget to turn in their homework. Or they go to school without an extra snack," Rodgers continued. "She loves her children with every fiber of her being, but she is tired. Sympathy will only add more layers to her armor. This path was not one she would have chosen. Maybe the white picket fence and Joanna Gaines' home décor aren't part of God's plan for her life. But I can tell you this. She will continue to make lemonade out of lemons, and drink the sh*t out of it... even if it is a little too bitter."

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