“Toughen up buttercup!”

I don’t know how the saying, “Toughen up buttercup” is normally used, but a Mom said it to me tonight and I don’t really think she meant it in a sweet way. As a matter of fact, I think she was being quite sarcastic and low-key shady. So here’s what happened.

Our kids attend the same swimming class and after class was over we were chatting…you know small talk. In the midst of me answering a question I yawned and replied that I couldn’t think of my response because I was tired. She then looked over at Tre and said, “He’s your only one?” I answered yes, then she said it- “Tuhuh! You better toughen up buttercup!”

My first response was, “WHAT?” But, I responded saying, “Uhhh, I have a lot of other things going on in my life.” Then I stopped myself and became irritated. I don’t even think she heard me before she changed the subject and started talking about something else. SN: She is a Mom of multiple children.

On my way home I called my GGGF and had to vent about what was said to me. I needed another perspective and I felt my homie could relate because she is also the mother of a single child. She talked me off the ledge and affirmed how I felt, then she said, “Well maybe she didn’t mean it that way.” Silence. My response: “Uhhh, yes she did! Why would she tell me to toughen up? Isn’t the opposite of tough weak? So is she implying that I’m weak? Does she know that I have a lot going on in my life? Does she think I go to work then come home and eat Bonbon’s while I neglect after-school activities, homework, laundry, dinner, lunch prep and all the things with my one child?”

Last October I wrote about Mom Bullying/Shaming and I talked about again it with Corene Lavaughn on The Mommy Hour Podcast. It’s real ya’ll. That Mom not only shamed me, but she kinda carried me and I did not appreciate it.

Moms of single children get a bad rap. I think there is a perception that if you only have one child that your life is somehow easier and you have less responsibility. Well, us Moms of single children know our responsibilities for the lives of others is numbered differently, however, it is NOT easier. As a matter of fact it can be more challenging. Think about it- there is no one else but us to be the playmate, homework helper, snuggle buddy, eventual chauffeur and more.

If you are a Mom of multiple children, here are some suggestions for you on behalf of us single-child Moms:

  1. Please refrain from asking us if we are going to have more children. The reason we have 1 child is…….[drumroll please]……our business! It could be medical, financial or simply a personal choice. I have NEVER questioned a Mom about why she had multiple children because it’s none of my business, so please extend the same courtesy to me.
  2. Do not assume life is easier with 1 child. We all know what happens when you ass-u-me right? So don’t do it. Bottom line- life is NOT easier.
  3. Life in and of itself is busy, challenging and difficult. Add on to that being an active and present Mom and you have another (non-paying) full-time job. Don’t think we’re not tired at the end of the day just like you are. For those Moms who are Mompreneurs and side-hustlers like me, we have even more responsibilities. And I haven’t even touched on those Moms who have a spouse/partner and the responsibilities there.

Moms of single children I didn’t leave you out. Here are some suggestions for us/you:

  1. DO NOT offer an explanation for why you have 1 child. You have one child and that is what the good Lord (or the doctor, plus your insurance) allowed for your life. #periodt.
  2. DO NOT feel ashamed or embarrassed by being the Mom of a wonderful single child. I have been there- feeling sheepish when family or strangers keep petitioning for Tre to have a sibling. I have gone from stuttering, to making excuses, to telling private business protected by HIPAA as the reason why we have one child. I’m over it and I’m NOT doing it anymore.
  3. DO NOT let anyone bully or shame you for being the Mom of a single child. Of course I talked to the Hubs about it and he said I should have said something to the Mom about it. I’m a bit of a slower processor, so, all of my rebuttals didn’t come to mind until I left. Dang it. I’m now prepared with a rebuttal the next time someone comes at me. [Clears throat] “We have one child, Tre, and that is all. Periodt.”

Normally my posts are more curated that this, however, this rubbed me the wrong way and I felt the need to share AND offer some support for Moms of single children.

Moms let’s do better and focus on what’s really important- raising healthy, secure, confident children who are ready to go out and make positive contributions to the world. Let’s leave the number of children we have alone. The end.


Around the Way Mom

Krystal is a 30-something mother, wife and professional who’s navigating life’s twists and turns all while finding balance in it all! She lives in the DMV with her husband and son.


  1. Cija
    October 7, 2019 / 10:49 AM

    oooowwweee, i would have been furious. her telling you to “toughen up” and then adding that sacharine ‘buttercup’ is annoying. you were just yawning! of course her response was not per-meditated, but it was thoughtless and judgy. your feelings are valid and this post was a way of expressing yourself. it also reminded me that i need to be more mindful about what i say to others. thank you for sharing.

    • Around the Way Mom
      October 8, 2019 / 8:48 AM

      Hey Cija- Yes, the “buttercup” addition was laced in all kinds of syrupy sarcasm. I had to take it to the computer!

  2. October 2, 2019 / 1:38 PM

    Totally agree! She could have definitely framed it a different way or of course said nothing at all. The number of kids does not matter. Each of us wear our responsibilities different but different doesn’t mean less than. Good stuff!

    • Around the Way Mom
      October 8, 2019 / 8:46 AM

      Thank you Jon’ll- Different does NOT mean less! #allmomsmatter

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