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Dear Single Mother

Dear Single Mother

I was blown away by an encounter I had with one of your 7 children.

by

Dear Single Mother,

You don’t know me, but I keep thinking about you and wondering how you did it.

You see, I met your daughter last week at the new indoor playground. My four-year-old daughter looked up the huge spiraling tunnel slide, decked out with ladders, ropes and thrilling tunnels, bursting with excitement.

But then she became hesitant. She had no idea how to get up to the top. Child after child clambered past us, climbing up the ladders and careening down, over and over.

I stood at the bottom of the slide with my little girl and realized that there was no way – even if I wasn’t in my eighth month of pregnancy – that I could climb through the jungle gym and show her how to get down the slide.

That’s when I spotted your 10-year-old daughter, a girl that I vaguely recognized. “Would you please…”

Before I could even finish my question, she reached out to my daughter. “Do you want to come up the slide with me?” My usually shy daughter gave a huge smile and nodded happily, and the two of them went up.

Your daughter patiently helped her to the top and slid down with her a few times, until my daughter was confident enough to go up by herself.

Before we left, I turned to your daughter and asked her name. My ears pricked up with interest. I recognized your name from the community. I don’t know you, but I do know that you have seven children and that you are a single mother.

And I was blown away.

To you, it may not seem like a lot. But your daughter made such a huge impression on me. Her kindness, her willingness and how she barely had to be asked. She is clearly someone who is used to noticing people who were in need.

As a mother, I know the enormity of the task. From the logistics of getting everyone fed, dressed, to sleep, to the doctor, and bathed day after day. Of arranging this child’s swimming lessons and being aware of what’s going on at school, and giving each one what they need.

I know the massive emotional investment being a mother requires. We want to give our children the best chance at success, socially, academically, physically. We endlessly debate the big and small things – from what school is the best fit for our child to what sandwich to make for lunch today. I know how much mental and physical energy it takes to mother just two children with my husband’s support.

And the hardest part is that we never know. Have we done it right? Will our children turn out to be decent people, positively impacting the world? Did we nurture enough and provide right boundaries? There’s no barometer at the end of the day which lights up with “job done well” or “task accomplished”.

And somehow, all alone, you have succeeded. Amidst it all – the car pools, the orthodontics appointments, the school plays, the swimming lessons - you have raised a daughter who displays authentic kindness, who is sensitive and caring and takes notice of those less capable than her.

So dear single mother, I have no idea how you do it but I pray that my daughter will one day grow up to be like yours. And that somehow I could exemplify your amazing parenting skills. Thank you for raising a daughter who will remain etched in my mind as an example of what I pray I will instill in my own children.

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Visitor Comments: 17

(10) Toby Bulman Katz, September 1, 2016 12:39 AM

"single mother" misleading

I hate this neo-liberal term "single mother" that is used indiscriminately nowadays to refer to divorcees, widows and promiscuous women who never bothered to marry their boyfriends. Liberals use this as a catch-all term precisely because they want to obliterate distinctions. They want to remove all sense of moral opprobrium from unwed mothers by covering them with the same mantle of respect and sympathy we give to women who did get married before having children and then lost their husbands to death or divorce.

I am sure that the Orthodox Jewish mother of seven got married before she had all those children, and did not imagine that she would end up having to raise them alone.

Single mothers by choice are raising a generation of lawless children, and do not deserve the approval of society. Children of mothers who did get married should not be called children of single mothers, as if no one can quite be sure who their fathers are. It's a completely different kind of society from the society in which no one knows who their father is and women have seven different children by seven different men without ever bothering to marry any of them.

A divorcee or a widow who is doing her best to raise a fine family in difficult circumstances does deserve respect and sympathy.

Jill, September 1, 2016 10:23 AM

Why so bitter? This is a wonderful article about a lovely child, whose (single) mother must be doing a fine job.

(9) John, August 30, 2016 6:49 PM

unspoken?

Maybe what you think was unspoken - was unspoken because It wasn't there.

It's sad when one has to look for ulterior motive behind encouragement and compliments.

(8) Anonymous, August 30, 2016 6:08 PM

going further

Eliana, I'll respectfully suggest that you call the single mother and express to her what you've written here. She may not know that someone (you) thinks so highly of her daughter's character. She can then happily tell her daughter about how appreciative that nice woman (you) was in noticing and lauding these traits. That would surely make the day of both mom and daughter.

(7) Shoshana, August 30, 2016 5:26 PM

thank you for noticing

Having raised my children as a single parent, I can attest to the fact that some people naturally assume that the monumental task of parenting is difficult and challenging for 2 parents, let alone for one. I applaud anyone who takes the time to realize that children of single parents are not second class citizens, but rather individuals who have been given the opportunity to grow from their trials and tribulations.

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