Mindy Kaling has a new memoir out, which is very exciting because she’s honest and hilarious and insightful and generally someone whom we would do anything to have as a Cool Mom Friend. (Kaling is a solo mom to 2-year-old daughter Katherine aka Kit, and she has yet to reveal the identity of Kit’s father.) But while Kaling’s commentary about single motherhood in the book — Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes) — is as honest and hilarious and insightful as the rest of her, it’s hard to ignore the fact that single mom life for Kaling looks…absolutely nothing like single mom life looks for most single moms.
Kaling writes about the perks of single motherhood, for her, while also outlining the not-actually-stressful-at-all difficulties it causes her (like, you know, she’s too short to reach high shelves. A husband could help with that!). “I’m at the point in life where if I had to choose between having boring sex with someone I love for 15 minutes before going to sleep or being on Instagram, I choose Instagram every time,” Kaling says with all the wit and bluntness we’d expect.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that most of us single parents are not simply choosing between boring sex and a soothing solo scroll. Many of us don’t have a choice at all, and that in itself can feel maddening and exhausting. Plus, if we had a choice between partnered parenting and all that often comes with it — shared childcare duties, in-laws pitching in, and of course the impossible dream for single parents: The Dual-Income Household (!) — don’t you think plenty of us would choose that life over being able to Instagram in peace? I won’t speak for every other single parent, but you can be damn sure many of us would run straight for Option A: shared finances and a bit more help.
And speaking of help, therein lies the rub — or rather, the reason Kaling is able to be so chill and unstressed and strong about being a single parent. She has help! Namely, a baby nurse named Rose, who honestly seems like a delight and we’d like to invite her to our Cool Mom Friend hang along with Kaling herself.
“According to Rose, there was no problem apple cider vinegar couldn’t solve,” Kaling writes in the memoir of her baby nurse. I mean, Rose has a point there. But also, I have a point in just highlighting that little phrase for ya: baby nurse. We should be so lucky!
Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any parent who hires help. Parents — single or otherwise — truly need all the help, paid and unpaid, that we can get. A baby nurse / nanny / housekeeper / what have you are all amazing if you can afford them, which Kaling can, because she is a badass star and all that. I have no beef with Kaling being just one of many celebrity parents who rely on nannies in order to keep at it with their amazing careers.
All I’m saying is: This is not the norm. And, yes, frankly, I’m jealous. The U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households, and a vast majority of those households are helmed by single mothers — many of whom are WOC, many of whom are low-income, and many of whom are working multiple jobs just to make ends meet.
I’m a single mother with immense privilege and a full-time, salaried job with benefits. Would I sell my right arm if it could buy me full-time help such as Baby Nurse Rose? PROBABLY. The reality is, hired help is outside the financial realm of possibility for far too many single parents, who end up relying on a cobbled-together family/friend/nonprofit support network in order to care for their kids. That, and taking on more and more jobs to scrape together a living.
So while Kaling’s rose-colored picture of her strong, self-caring, single mom self may well be completely accurate portrayal of her, if you are a single parent who is struggling, please: Do not let Kaling’s “I’ve got this” attitude make you feel like a failure. In fact, from what we know about Kaling, we’re pretty convinced she’d applaud you for being the total badass success of a (overworked, dead-tired) parent that you are. Because this stuff ain’t easy.