Skip to main content

Single motherhood is best

My childhood improved the moment my father left. I had to grow up, of course,  to know it.

Now, Mary Pols has written a book celebrating the joys and freedoms of single-motherhood and I salute her.  Accidentally on Purpose is a memoir honoring her own experience and the experience of  many American mothers.  

Every story is different, but when you examine the figures, actual single parent statistics may surprise you. According to Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2007, released by the U.S. Census Bureau in November, 2009, there are approximately 13.7 million single parents in the United States today, and those parents are responsible for raising 21.8 million children (approximately 26% of children under 21 in the U.S. today).

 According to the U.S. Census Bureau...

The Typical Single Parent is a Mother:

  • Approximately 84% of custodial parents are mothers, and
  • 16% of custodial parents are fathers

She is Divorced or Separated:

Of the mothers who are custodial parents:
  • 45% are currently divorced or separated
  • 34.2% have never been married
  • 19% are married (In most cases, these numbers represent women who have remarried.)
  • 1.7% were widowed
My mother was single, against her will.  I was reluctant to raise my children alone.  Pols declares the good news that today, because of our good modeling, single motherhood can be seen as preferable to many, many women.

It warms my heart to be appreciated - and I'm not surprised

The dirty little secret of my small, Minnesota town was this - most of the women I knew hated being married.  My house was "male free."  Even the cats were female.

I remember the many, many women who saw it as a refuge. 
"Living with a man is like living with a spy in the house," one said.  "I can't do anything right."

"I never knew I could resent someone as much as I resent him," another confided.

As a Presbyterian minister, I hosted several women's support groups.  Oh, sure - - they called themselves sweet names like "Ladies Aid" and "Dorcas Circle."  But the conversations around the quilting, knitting and baking were all the same.  The refrain?

"They're all alike."

Men, that is.

And - "I know, I know.  My husband does the same thing." 

Neglect, that is.  Never hanging up his towel, never putting his dirty shorts in the hamper.  Never taking out the garbage.

And sometimes, abuse. 

But even if a man isn't slapping us around, neglecting us, burping and farting at the table and wiping his ass with our clean sheets, living with one is living with constant, non-stop, critical review of every action.

Single moms don't have to deal with any of that.  With the possible exception of that little stretch of time called "adolescence," single moms are free of criticism in their homes.

Several weeks ago, Garrison Keillor sang an old song with original lyrics.  All alone in my kitchen, mixing batter for a batch of blueberry muffins for my neighborhood kids, I laughed.  I laughed so hard I embarrassed myself.  The song reminded me of what it was like to be married - to "share" with a man - to "co-parent" with someone who needs parenting himself.

To the tune of "Till There Was You" (from the Music Man)

"I was wrong, oh so wrong,
I was stupid and so silly,
But I never knew it at all -
Till there was you."

Thanks, Ms. Pols - for telling the truth.  It is sweet, sweet, sweet to ever have to put down a toilet seat.


Popular posts from this blog

Why I no longer trust the St. Paul Police

My dogs awoke me,  barking,  at 3:00 AM -  and I knew something was wrong. I grabbed my under-the-bed baseball bat and stormed into my backyard. The car next door had been burglarized; a neighbor's garage broken into. And the woman who lives in the house behind mine was robbed in the middle of the night. And so as the flood lights slapped across my empty back yard and my dogs growled, I determined to apprehend the culprit. I searched the yard for the wretched, evil doer who would dare take advantage of the decent folks who live in Como Park. Behind me, in my living room, someone walked out the front door with my MacBook and other electronics. Because I didn't check inside the house - I didn't discover the crime until the next morning. "This ain't CSI, lady."  I phoned the police at 7:30 A.M. It took him almost an hour to get to my home - and when he finally knocked -  I opened my door to an overweigh, winded officer. By then I was frant

Here's to you, Mister Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman is eighty-years-old.  Dustin - say it isn't so. Baby Boomers around the globe worship your legacy - your brave, outrageous career where you stepped out - risked much - and led us into our maturity. As Michael Dorsey in  Tootsie  - you exposed an artist brave enough to lampoon his feminine side. As Ted Kramer, in Kramer vs. Kramer  - you challenged other men to reexamine their ability to nurture, to settle for the glories of domesticity. And no one else could have exposed the complexities  of Raymond Babbitt as did you in  Rain Man.   The world honors your excessive and grand talent - but if these allegations are true, none of that will matter.  History will forget your artistry and remember you as a dirty old man. That's what I do not understand.  You're not a B list guy - - not a "made for TV" Hollywood guy. You're Hoffman, for god's sake.  And I cannot fathom you jeopardizing your lionized legacy around someone's seve

Overheard at a coffee shop; An old woman's wisdom.

When she was a small child, she posed in front of her nursery mirror - fascinated with her reflection.  Sometimes she emulated Betty Davis.  Sometimes Shirley Temple.  When she was old enough, her mother enrolled her in tap dance classes, hoping to channel some of that ham-bone energy into something constructive. It worked.   Twice each year, the tap school dressed her in frilly, fluff-flounced costumes, put her on stage with a dozen other little show-offs,  and together they tapped their way to elementary school stardom. When she turned 13-years-old, her tap-dance gang joined the downtown YWCA where they spent their Saturdays doing something called "creative dramatics." Swimming, archery, bowling and hula absorbed their weekends, and she made new friends who introduced her to neighborhoods and families she might never have met and enjoyed. In high school, she auditioned and was cast in every onstage opportunity. In college, where the competition stiffened, she turn