I am a single mother. I first became a single mother through circumstance – a failed marriage. Divorce was not something I decided upon easily or lightly. My husband left me twice and I let him come back home both times. Finally I accepted the fact that my marriage was broken and that it was more detrimental to me and my daughter if I stayed and tried to make it work. So I left and started life as a single mom.
A number of years later I doubled my family through adoption. I became a single mother again through choice. That choice probably sealed my fate to never have a lot of money ever again, but my home is full of activity, love, and laughter. I wouldn’t reverse my decision even if I could.
I guess there has always been a certain stigma to being a single mother. People feel sorry for you because you have a “broken home.” I expressed my feelings about that sentiment in a previous blog post. More recently, all women have taken some hard hits from politicians with extreme conservative views, but especially single women who exercise choice and control in their own lives by (a) taking birth control so that they won’t have children, or (b) having children and choosing to raise them alone. One politician in Wisconsin has gone so far as to write legislation with language that directly ties child abuse/neglect to single parents. It’s just crazy.
Maybe there really are tons of women out there who are popping out babies for the sole purpose of taking money and benefits from the government, but I don’t know them. The single moms I know are women who are strong and responsible. Some of us are making the best out of our circumstances when the father of our child(ren) is absent, abusive, or simply not interested in carrying out his responsibility as a parent. Some of us are called to motherhood and meet that calling through foster care or adoption. Some may be raising nieces, nephews, or even grandchildren whose own parents are unable to raise them for whatever reason.
Single mothers are not substandard or criminal. We are mothers. We love our children. We are working twice as hard around the clock to provide the best we can for our children. We work long hours at our job and come home to work long hours for our family. Those of us who are able grow a small village around us – family members, friends, church members, neighbors – who help teach and mentor our children.
Children of single parents learn to adapt. They learn perseverance, hard work, and patience. They learn that life doesn’t come served up on a silver platter. They learn that love beats stuff every time. They learn early on the life skills that will take them a long way. In fact, you just never know where the children of single mothers might turn up.