It’s been so long since I wrote on this blog that I forgot my password.
I have been moving – renovating, painting, packing, buying light fixtures and crown mouldings. But in the midst of this all, a beautiful bouquet of Mother’s Day flowers and a lovely walk in the park that is now two blocks from the house with my two young men who brought the flowers (tropical!) and the chocolate.
“A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary.”
–Dorothy Canfield Fisher (who, coincidentally, has a dorm at Goddard College named after her).
Comments on my article on The Huffington Post yesterday featured many protests to my suggestion that, if we really think single motherhood is bad for women and children, then maybe we, as a caring society, should think about how we can help. Essentially (paraphrasing here):
“Why should I give up my hard earned money to someone else?”
Meanwhile, comments on my tribute to my mother on Salon, which also ran yesterday, seemed to indicate a belief that mothers should sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their children and families, in the heartbreaking and difficult cases where those two are at odds. I did not leave my children, and I am so grateful to have found an unorthodox way to balance my needs and my children’s needs so that both are met. So sad, though, and so ironic when placed next to the comments on the other article, to read that quite a few people think:
“My mother left us and found her happiness, but she should have stayed because one person’s happiness is less important that the happiness of several (her children and family).”
One or several? Me or them? Is it just mothers who we require to be selfless, when the rest of us clearly don’t want to be?
The choices, and the solutions, cannot be so black and white. We are human, after all. Love and compassion are part of what we are. There has to be a way to empower us to help ourselves and enable us to support and serve others so that no one is ruined, abandoned, or lost.
Here is an article on the Huffington Post today about single motherhood, in which seven out of ten commenters seem determined to prove the statistic that seven out of ten Americans think single motherhood is “bad for society.” When did we become so selfish? Without empathy, without community, every one of us is lost.
“Is it that old bugaboo, the welfare mom, raised most recently in connection with Natalie Portman? In defending his comments about the actress, Mike Huckabee claimed, “most single moms are very poor, under-educated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death.” Not true. In fact, according to the Census Bureau, 80% of single mothers work and less than a quarter receive public assistance. But fighting and accusing and attacking is what captures our attention. How many of us were able to escape Ann Coulter’s nationally televised claims that single motherhood is “a recipe to create criminals, strippers, rapists, murderers”? Here is that dire warning about my children being ruined coming back through a bullhorn.
“These are our children she is talking about. Our next generation.”
Read the whole article here, or on the top of the main Divorce page if you get to it today.
On Salon today, an essay about my mother. Here’s a sneak peak:
My mother was always there. She was a 1950s housewife, living in the ’60s and ’70s. Whatever my siblings and I needed, she gave: hand-sewn prom dresses; homemade Christmas ornaments; she pulled up a stool and offered step-by-step advice (through the locked bathroom door I refused to open for, oh, an hour) about how to insert my first tampon. When I confessed to her, as a child, that I had stolen candy bars from a local store, she helped me believe life could go on and be righted, and it was that safety, that lying together in my bed, that ensured I would never steal anything again. When I was 15, and broke my arm falling off a runaway horse, careening straight downhill behind my house in the rain, I didn’t cry — it didn’t even hurt — until I laid eyes on my mother.
Read the whole piece here.