Jewish World Review Jan. 11, 2002 / 27 Teves, 5762

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
Jeff Jacoby
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The heart-stopper e-mail -- A heart-stopper e-mail arrived that read:

"I am not sure exactly how I came across your Web site, but am sure glad I did . . . I am 23 and a single mom of two and am having a hard time with them. I am at the point of giving them up for open adoption. I am struggling with a lot of issues in my life besides the children. I was wondering if you had any advice for me as to the whole adoption thing. I love my kiddos, but I feel that I am not raising them well enough."

I shot back an e-mail asking some questions, and the young woman responded. It wasn't a prank, it was all too real, a single mother beside herself searching for help.

I've always wondered how single mothers, and fathers, do it. There are few challenges greater than raising children without a spouse. I've had a tiny glimpse into the life of single moms when my husband has worked long stints of long hours.

One or two days flying solo with the kids is no problem. After three days, a thin layer of frost begins developing and it's not in the freezer. Four days of parenting by myself and while doing the ironing, I consider leaving ugly brown scorch marks on his white shirts. Five days without back-up and I begin building a case against him in my head. The verdict is in: The man must pay. The man, who has been working very long hours, unfortunately has no idea that he is returning home to judge, jury and executioner.

He walks in and utters an innocent hello.

"Don't hello me," I snap.

"Is something wrong?" he asks.

"Oh sure, act like you don't know!"

Poor guy; hit by a Mack truck he never saw coming. Technically, nothing is wrong, I've just been exhausted by lack of relief help. I've missed the second head to help solve problems, the warm body I can point to and say, "Go ask your dad." The man who helps supply life's basic needs for the kids has been in abstentia for a short period, that's all.

Single parents face that frustration and fatigue every day. Single parenting for the masses is nothing at all like the pretty people portray it to be.

Madonna, Jodie Foster, Rosie O'Donnell, Calista Flockhart and Camryn Manheim, have taken turns glowing from magazine covers singing the joys of single motherhood. They make it look so easy, so effortless, so positively wrinkle-free. Shame on them for perpetuating a lie.

Most single parents don't have seven-figure incomes, nannies, chauffeurs, housekeepers, cooks, tutors for the kids, wardrobe consultants and personal shoppers. Far from it, single mothers are more likely to struggle financially and have limited career opportunities.v There's nothing easy about being a single parent, providing a roof overhead, putting food on the table, refereeing in-house family feuds, nursing sick kids, running to the store for milk and cereal at 10 o'clock at night all by yourself. There's nothing easy about it for the parent and there's nothing easy about it for the kid.

Some parents walk that road by default, by A death or divorce. But in unprecedented numbers, many walk that road by choice. One-third of all births in this country are now to unmarried women, 30 percent of which are teenagers.

These babies aren't merely at an economic or social disadvantage, their very lives may be at risk. Research by the Centers for Disease Control concluded that birth certificates lacking a father's name were strong predictors of infant death. How strange, the silver screen single moms never mention that.

It's been awhile since I've heard from the single mom who sent the e-mail. I wonder how she's doing. Even more, I wonder about the kids.

JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

01/04/02: The slightly sunny side of 2001
12/28/01: The Way Things Work
11/30/01: The Leftover Shuffle begins
11/27/01: Glasses bring age into focus
11/16/01: A different portion of Thanks
11/09/01: The Next Stage of Parenting
11/01/01: Of boys and patriotism
10/26/01: College Son the Invisible Man
10/19/01: Out of the closet ... and into the school
10/12/01: A Parent's Guide to Dating
10/05/01: "Taking Care of You"
09/28/01: Time indivisible
09/24/01: Refueling capitalism
09/14/01: A time to mourn
09/07/01: Lack of modesty stirs the troops
08/31/01: Scholarship search an education
08/24/01: The test for parents
08/17/01: Immodest proposals
08/10/01: Trying to R-r-r-re-re-relax
08/03/01: It may be shabby and chic, but it ain't cheap
07/20/01: Bride showered with sage advice
07/13/01: Baby Bear Finds Driving "Just Right"
07/06/01: Pale at the Thought of Bronze
06/29/01: A Dog's Best Friend
06/22/01: Rethinking fatherhood
06/14/01 Don't forget to lock the door
06/07/01 How grandma punishes her kids
06/01/01 Hearing voices
05/25/01 Cyborgs for Better or Worse
05/18/01 The death of Common Sense

© 2001, Lori Borgman