Sunday, May 11, 2008

in defense of single mothers

a few years ago, in the local paper, a woman who happened to be a single mother wrote an article on mother's day in which she pretty much bemoaned her single state. the mother of one child around 8, she was upset because on mother's day, there was no one to make sure she had breakfast in bed, a special dinner, or any of the other hallmark card attributes we're all told we're supposed to expect from our children and significant others. i felt sorry for her, but i also felt she was doing single mothers a disservice by creating the illusion that all of us were mourning the loss of less than ideal relationships.

you see, at the time, i was a single mother of four. i left my abusive husband in march of 1995, moved to connecticut in 1996, and i have never looked back. and so, in the interests of single mothers everywhere, i am reposting my letter to the editor - the only letter to the editor i have ever written - and the only one i've ever had published.

Dear Ms H -

It's not often I am tempted to respond to somethingI read in the newspaper, especially when it is an opinion piece such as yours was this past mother's day. But in defense of single mothers everywhere i feel called upon to respond. not all of us woke up on mother's day to no recognition whatsoever - "no card, brunch or breakfast tray." Not all single mothers are mourning the loss of a less than ideal relationship. some of us are congratulating ourselves on having the guts to leave the jerk, and wondering why we didn't do it sooner. Some of us are patting ourselves on the back for creating lives of our own choosing, not shaped by anyone else's expectations or demands. And some of us celebrate the fact that we can raise our children the way we want to, without having to negotiate with any other adult over bedtimes, pastimes or mealtimes.

I'm the single mother of four children. I've been on my own for seven years, and i thank god everyday for the strength and courage i finally found to leave an abusive relationship that very nearly cost me a piece of my soul. Look back and mourn? No way, no how. Every day is Mother's Day for me. My children adore me - I am the rock at the center of their world. Not a day goes by one doesn't say thank you for something, albeit as small as a favorite snack or a pair of laundered jeans.

I understand your daughter is very young, and that sometimes it is difficult to be the only adult in a household. But the upside of being the only adult far outweights the negatives in my opinion - far better to be alone than to be in a relationship that drains and diminishes and provides an unhealthy role model for one's children.

And no, my kids didn't serve me breakfast in bed, and they didn't cook my dinner. But that's because one, i have a waterbed and it's tough to eat in a waterbed, and two, i get up at five am because i like the peace and quiet, and three, i don't want anyone ruining my steak. But each of them had a gift for me that showed their appreciation of all i do in ways that touched me and nourished me and made me more grateful than ever I had the sense to walk away from the unprintable excuse for a human being who was their biological father.

So please don't speak for all single mothers with such self--pity. Some of us don't feel sorry for ourselves - or our children - at all.

Sincerely.... annie kelleher

to all the single mothers, and others, ... happy mother's day. may you be blessed with everything you deserve. :)

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

1 comment:

Patrice said...

a classic!