I was 11 when my father died. He passed on the last day of September 1965.
From that day on, my mother raised my two sisters and me on her own. There was help from the extended family from time to time, but she did all the grunt work required to raise three kids. She worked as a secretary during the day, and as a waitress at night and on weekends. Not every night or weekend, but often enough to keep us comfortable, and her bone tired. The adult me appreciates her far more than the adolescent me ever did.
She took good care of us.
I was 38 when my wife asked/told me to leave our house. It was the 19th of February 1993. I was an active addict.
For the next six years, she would raise our two children alone. An active addict is incapable of parenting.
She operated a licensed daycare business out of the house so she could be there when our kids got home from school. She took piecemeal work stuffing envelopes at night when things got tight.
On her watch, our kids got to see Yosemite, Disney World, and Hilton Head. She bought a used camper for weekend getaways. She was an excellent provider. Like my mother, she took good care of her children.
She was there when I was not.
This can’t be fair
For generations, women in America have shouldered the responsibility of raising our children. All too often, without the help of the fathers. They have done so while facing unfair social and economic headwinds. Here are some numbers to ponder.
According to a November 17th, 2016 US Census report, 69% of American children live in a home with two parents. The second-largest family structure, by far, is the single mother head of household at 23%. The remaining 8% are comprised of kids living with single dads, with extended families, or at a group facility. That is a lot of single moms.
A Pew Research study, published December 12, 2019, supports these numbers.
Another Census Bureau report, from January 30th, 2018, cited that about half of all custodial parents had either a legal or less formal support agreement. Only 44% of parents with agreements were paid in full.
Those with no agreements, I am sure, did not fare as well. So, not only has the custodial responsibilities fallen to these women, much of the financial burden has as well.
To make matters more difficult, women face wage inequality. For every $1.00 a White man earns; White women earn $0 79, Black women $0.62, and Latino women $0.54 for the same work.
They also must deal with the social taboos of being divorced or separated, and all that goes with being a single woman in America.
The Socio-Economic deck is stacked against the single mom yet they march on.
Kudos to the men of America who are the sole caregivers and to those men who pay their fair share. I am not here to shortchange your contributions.
Same old politics
The entire gender has been behind an American political 8-ball.
It was not until 1920 and the passage of the 19th Amendment that women gained the right to vote– a full one-hundred-forty-four years after the signing of our Declaration of Independence. That is hard for me to wrap my head around.
Women are still under-represented in government. Despite comprising half of the population, they hold less than 24% of the seats in the US Congress.
When our founders declared, “All men are created equal,” they should have added the caveat, “but women, not so much.” We have been a republic for 244 years, not one woman has risen to our highest office.
Why have we yet to find our Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, or Jacinda Ardern? I am sure she is out there. It is past time for a paradigm shift in our attitudes toward gender and leadership.
We may be served well by a feminine hand on the levers of American Power.
The time has come for women to realize their destiny and complete the transition from the kitchen to the head of the table.
The single mom needs stronger allies.
Thanks to my 12 step program, I have long since rejoined my wife. We have been equal partners for the last 20 years. Our children and I understand the sacrifice and steely determination it took for her to hold our family together.
My mother has passed to the other side. I hope she somehow knows how amazing I think she was. I now understand how tough it was on her.
These two women are heroes in my life.
There are millions just like them, in every city and town across America. You will see them dragging 3 kids through a supermarket, or sitting alone at a little league game. Many of them struggle—most find a way to survive.
It is up to us as citizens to be sure they are treated fairly. Give them equal pay and opportunity, and appreciate their super-human contributions. We need to be sure they get what is owed to them and give them a voice in our political discussions. They have done too much to be forgotten.
The American Single Mom is a national treasure.