'No, you are not a single mum'

'It's not the same.'
'It's not the same.' Photo: Shutterstock

Being a single mum is tough, and it can be fraught with challenges that mums with partners can just never understand. It's hard, it's relentless, and it's just so laden with responsibility that sometimes it's hard to breathe.

That's why sometimes single mums get a bit prickly when our partnered sisters whose husbands are going away on a three-day fishing trip refer to themselves as a single mum.

No. Just no. Not even as a joke.

As a single mum myself, I've even been caught up in the politics of single mumming. For four days of every fortnight, I am kid-free. That's a chance to recharge my batteries, take a long bath, and go out with my mates (or, in reality, catch up on the washing and drink wine in front of the TV).

But that's a luxury some single mums don't have, and someone on social media recently suggested I would be better off referring to myself as a co-parent rather than a single mum because what I'm doing isn't as hard as what some others are doing.

See what I mean? Fraught.

So when US reality star Kristin Cavallari recently referred to herself as a single mum, the internet understandably laughed and laughed and laughed. And then they bared their teeth a little bit.

 

And he's off...but this time as a dolphin 🐬 so excited for my man on this next journey #MiamiDolphins 📸: Cam Cutler

A post shared by Kristin Cavallari (@kristincavallari) on

You see, Kristin's husband Jay Culter is a quarterback in the NFL, and he has just signed a $10 million contract to play football for one year for the Miami Dolphins. That means he'll be away from the family for five months playing football, leaving Kristin alone in Nashville with their three children Camden, 5, Jaxon, 3, and Saylor, 1.

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"We just moved there, actually, a few months ago, full time," Kristin said in a Facebook Live interview with Entertainment Tonight.

"And both my boys are in school. It doesn't make sense to pack up the family just for five months. So I'm a single parent for the next five months. It's a little chaotic but in the best way."

Some mums on the Facebook Live feed objected to Kristin using the term "single parent" to describe herself, but The Hills star carried on regardless.

"My kids are great," she continued. "They're good kids for the most part. Of course we have our stuff, but it actually hasn't been as hard as I thought it was going to be, being a single parent. And I have an amazing nanny. My mother-in-law is there with my kids right now, so I couldn't do without them."

Viewers were understandably annoyed:

"This is a joke and a slap in the face to real single parents," said one commenter.

Another said, "Yeah, a real single parent. The kind with a nanny, cook, maid, person to run errands, secretary kind of single parent. She will have to drive her own car now. Heavens, she will really be slumming it now."

A single mum commented, "I hate it when people say they're a single parent when their spouse is temporarily away. It's not a joke to laugh about. I'm glad it's not so hard for you Kristin Cavallari with your nanny. Some of us don't have it so easy. Shame on you for trying to put yourself in the same category as a real single parent!"

The problem with what Kristin said is that having your husband away is not the same as being single. He's still earning (a very healthy amount of) money to support the family, he's a phone call away at all times, he could be on a plane today if he needed to be.

And yes, it's still possible to be a single mum and be able to afford a nanny and a nice house and all of the trappings that Kristin's life clearly has, but it's the exception to the rule. Single mums are one of the most disadvantaged groups in society, with over half of single mums being unemployed in Australia.

But Kristin blithely carries on, clearly unaware that her incredible privilege is showing, and pissing off a large section of society along the way. On behalf of single mothers everywhere, I wish her luck on the tough five-month journey that lays ahead.