New Castle News

Lisa Madras

June 11, 2012

Lisa Madras: The heartache of a single mother on Father’s Day

NEW CASTLE — I've already asked this once, but I think it bears repeating: Am I judgmental?

Father's Day sucks when you're a single mom. I have a tendency to feel sorry for myself whenever this particular Sunday in June rolls around. And so I do what I do best: Google.

As usual, I can never seem to find anything that fits my particular circumstance. Sort of like when I sought a support group for young widows. The only things attached to that particular search phrase were dating sites (Really? Because DATING is our main focus three months after the death of our spouse?) and support groups for older people. No offense, but elderly widows and young widows with small children have about as much in common as pickles and bicycles.

This time, I found a lot of sites about being both the mom and the dad. (That concept itself is sort of unsettling to me.  I'm just the mom. Never gonna be the dad.  But that's a blog for another day.) Unfortunately, virtually every single article I read was followed by discussion forums full of "well, don't have sex until you're married" and "maybe you should have thought of the kids before divorce" and "I'm so ignorant and arrogant that I think I know everything."

OK, that last one wasn't in there, but it may as well have been. Because when you judge someone else without knowing their circumstance, there is only one word for you: S-T-U-P-I-D. I'm NOT gonna be kind about this anymore. Stop doing it!

In my case, I felt like I did everything the "right" way. I got an education, started a career, met a man, fell in love, got married, and then had children. He died, and I am now a single mother.

But that fact alone does not give me sole clemency from the self-proclaimed jury of human morality. The divorcee who left a marriage because of abuse or even irreconcilable differences, the rape or incest victim who chose to keep her baby ... and yes, even the teenager who just didn't take the proper precautions: not a one of us is deserving of that type of judgment, and would you like to know why?

Because we all made the best decision we could for ourselves at that time, in that moment, and more than likely, it had nothing to do with the critics of the world.

So when you see one of us in line at the grocery store using her welfare card (or scraping together her pennies because she doesn't qualify for assistance), please don't assume that you know who we are, or what we're about. We don't need your derision and dirty looks to know that our lives aren't perfect. We already know.

We know that somehow we're going to have to teach our sons how to shave and throw a football and how to be a good dad. We know that we'll have to teach our daughters how to recognize a good man without the benefit of an example.

And, maybe, each third Sunday of June, we have put on a brave face and try to explain to our children why their father couldn't, or wouldn't, be there, and then slip quietly into the shower so they don't see or hear our tears.

But given the choice, I would do it all over again — every step of it. Because a child is never a mistake, even though the choices we made leading up to their existence might not have been the wisest ones.

If your child knows this, then it doesn't matter if they're being raised by a mom and a dad, or just a mom, or just a dad. They'll know love. They'll know they have a mom who would give anything to give them a dad, even though she can't.

Yes, right now they have to deal with the confusion and heartache of having no one to give their school Father's Day projects to. But somewhere down the road, they're going to be in line at the grocery store behind the harried, single mom with the wrinkled blouse and tired eyes, and they're going to think of their own mom.

And instead of contempt and judgment, God willing, they might even offer her a kind word and a smile.

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Lisa Madras
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