I finally got in touch with my best friend the other night. I´ve been trying to call her for a few months. She´s a busy lady, her schedule jam packed with work, her activities, and those of her seventeen-year old daughter.
I´ve told her numerous times just how much I admire her. She had her daughter when she was just a junior in high school and for the past twelve has been raising her daughter on her own. I´ve known her since we were in the fifth grade, so we´ve been through it all together.
During this time, my girlfriend attended and graduated from college and started a career. She raised her daughter to be an independent woman. Her daughter has avoided the hotspots that all parents worry about: drugs, teenage pregnancy, hanging out with the wrong crowd. She has already applied to college and wants to work as a forensic scientist for the government.
To say that my best friend has done a wonderful job in raising her daughter is just not saying enough. I am in awe of her. I want to be the kind of mother that she is.
My mother was a single working mother as well. She raised me on her own from the time that I was five, working two to three jobs at a time and then always making sure she had some time left over to spend with me. I admire my mother more than I can ever put into words, and that admiration strengthens with each passing year.
The dedication and hard work that it takes to be a parent is incredible; the dedication and hard work that it takes to do it all alone? Unimaginable.
Now that I have my own family, I look up to my mother and my best friend in ways that I wasn´t able to before my daughter was born.
Some evenings I am so tired that I can´t wait for my husband to get home so I can retreat to the bathtub for a ten-minute break. My mother and best friend never had this luxury. Nor did they have someone else helping with household tasks, such as paying the bills or taking out the trash.
They aren´t alone, either. According to the Census Bureau, 10 million households in 2003 were run by a single mother, up from 3 million in 1970.
Single mothers face a multitude of issues. First is financial strain. More than 1/3rd of families raised in a single-mother household live below the poverty level. With the cost of housing, food, and other necessities, raising a family on two incomes is often difficult; on one it can be nearly impossible.
Secondly, managing a household effectively when only one person is taking care of everything can be an exhausting task. After working all day, the single mother must then go home and work all night, making sure that a hot meal is prepared, the kitchen cleaned afterwards, homework done, baths taken, and, after the children are in bed, the clothes washed and folded and put away. The next morning, it begins all over again.
Obviously this type of hectic schedule can exhaust even the most hyper of people, yet this doesn´t take into account the emotional strain that a single mother faces. Dealing with divorce, loss, and being alone can take a toll on anyone. Several studies have shown that single mothers suffer from depression more than married mothers. In one, 75% of respondents stated they suffered from mild to high range of depressive symptoms. It´s easy to see why: Being overworked and having no down time can plunge even the happiest of people into a state of exhaustion.
I´ll be adding blog posts that address these and more issues for single working mothers in the near future. For now, I´m including a link to a site that offers articles about finances, emotional well-being, and other issues important to single mothers.