I Believe Single Mothers Can
I was twelve when I heard Dan Quayle criticize Murphy Brown, the television character, for being a single mother. Quayle accused Brown of promoting child rearing without a father present. His attacks grew into a country-wide criticism of single mothers and their neglected children. I was appalled. My mother did not cast my father away, he chose to stay away. Meanwhile, my sister, Jen and I were not neglected.
My father called at 6:05 to let mom know that he was stuck at “work” and couldn’t pick us up at 6:00 for his weekend. He made it clear his whole weekend was too busy for us. Jen and I were crushed; another weekend dad didn’t have time to see us. Mom knew we were disappointed. She didn’t miss a beat; she hung up the phone and instead of seeking out a babysitter, called work to use a personal day. She grabbed her purse, told us to load in the car, and off we went. She took us to McDonald’s, ordered Happy Meals, and drove to the park. We ate at a wooden picnic table and after dinner commenced to have a blast playing. She pushed us on the swings and chased us around the play land. During our play session I had no time to be disappointed, I was having fun. That night when we got home she brought “the Little Engine that could” to life as he chugged along the tracks. She was the “Engine that could”
for us. She turned our frowns into smiles. It is not only the books she read to us and the venture to the park that fills my memory; it is also the love that flowed through our house. I saw my mother work two full time jobs and a part time job to ensure that we never went without. She took the time, even with all of her responsibility and work load, to help us grow and become responsible for ourselves. We had everything in our single parent home, but neglect. My mother raised two strong, intelligent women.
As the divorce rate continues to grow, the misconceptions about single parent homes will continue to die. Sadly, there are neglected children in the world, but they are the product of ill-equipped parents. Single parent homes can raise strong, responsible children. I was raised by a single mother. Now as a single mother myself, the countless lessons of self-sacrifice my mother taught ensure my daughter has all her heart desires. My daughter will grow into a strong, smart woman with my guidance. I am a single mother and I believe I can raise my child alone. I know I will.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.