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Who’s the Bravest of Them All? Single Moms

Several years ago I worked with a company that specialized in marketing to moms. They were very good at what they did. When one of the...

Friday, March 30, 2018

Who’s the Bravest of Them All? Single Moms

Several years ago I worked with a company that specialized in marketing to moms. They were very good at what they did. When one of the leaders was asked to do a talk about single mothers at an industry conference she gathered data and I’m sure gave a very good talk based upon what she learned. 

The problem was she wasn’t a single mother but a happily married millennial mom of I don’t know how many kids with a FitBit, time to jog, a nice car, beautifully put together appearance and a good/flexible career path. She could make sympathetic comments and that face that people make when you tell them that you don’t have a husband, but other than reading research and talking to a single moms it was definitely not her area of expertise.

So for today’s blog I pick single moms as the Bravest of them All. Trying to raise kids with an intermittent, if not absent spouse, is the hardest job anyone will ever have. And I’m not dissing single dads here but at least in my experience and that of women I know well the dads swooped in for a ballgame, wrote a child support check and showed up at birthdays and graduations most of the time. But they were not the primary parents to their children.

My saga is not atypical although I wish it was. When my daughter was five and my son was eight my ex-husband (who was in the throes of a forty something midlife crisis), picked a fight with me and announced in the middle of downtown Silver Spring, MD that “I am no longer your husband and I am no longer his father.” That cost me years of therapy for both of us and the little girl who was tagging along and heard the whole thing.

I may go into detail at a later date but suffice it to say that with only one parent I had to be home more. I started a freelance business and was the parent who was always there no matter what it cost me professionally and personally. For a long-time I was bitter about women who had husbands not because they were princes but because they had a second income. We lived from paycheck to paycheck, mortgage payment to mortgage payment, and there was never enough.

Some single moms have parents who help but mine were gone and there was no one to ask. We just kept going. I didn’t have a relationship with a man for six years because it was too much of a distraction from the children who really needed me.

Child support was OK in the beginning, but as he kept shrinking it, I kept spending every cent I had  in savings. There was so much frustration and anxiety and we were the only family who needed to ask for scholarships so they could play soccer. But we made it and there is more love and understanding and communication in our family than most I have seen. When the boys went off to a mountain cabin as teenagers and a furious parent called me up to tell me where my son was I knew where he was. He had asked my permission and I had given it. There was some of the usual teen lying in our house but when it came to the big things we told each other the truth.

When my daughter needed a therapist I tried to get as much help for her as I could even though the therapists recommended to us charged $250 an hour. Most of what she needed was someone to listen and on some levels I was part of the problem. But we kept talking and she came to me with what she could and she got through it. As I like to tell people neither of them is in jail and they are determined, principled young adults with good value systems and a sense of fairness that extends to everyone no matter race, background or circumstances. They are also focused on careers and working. What more can you ask for?

Anyway I am not here to whine – we all made it through – my son just graduated college and my daughter is in her freshman year. Financially we are in a much better place. My kids are happy and healthy and loving kids who are determined to find their place in this world, no matter how totally screwed up our country is at this moment.

Single moms are the Bravest of Them All. 

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