PJ Media

The Perfect Mother's Day Gift in Tough Economic Times

Tips for making Mother’s Day special for single moms:

  • Take her kids gift shopping for the occasion (have her slide you the money up front)
  • Offer to babysit her kids
  • Call her to wish her well
  • Invite her and her children to your family’s Mother’s Day gathering

These tips come from Seattle’s Eastside Parenting Examiners.

I have one to add:  Give your single mom friend a JOB!

I’m a single mother caught up in the current recession throes and it’s downright scary.

Getting me through the crisis are faith, hope, a daily routine, networking, and my friends. Chat room discussions, IM and email messages expressing fear, job scarcity, and struggle are wonderful — not in a Schadenfreude way; I’m grateful to be in good company.

I am working hard to find work, which makes having to go up against colleagues’ outdated ideas about child-rearing incredibly frustrating. And most of these problematic colleagues are women.

I have approached an old colleague with “ins” to my industry on several occasions, putting out feelers regarding upcoming projects.  Each time, she asks: “But what about your son?  Do you have anyone to take care of him?  I mean he is young.”

Yikes! That’s right! I have a kid at home. How could I have forgotten? Forget work but thank you for reminding me!  Now when did I feed him last?

Each time I reassure her that I do have a network in place. A really good one with backup for the backup and overnight teams for those breaking news crazy days.  “I’VE GOT A VILLAGE!!!” I yearn to scream. “NOW I NEED TO BUY GROCERIES!!”

But she hasn’t called and I’m fairly certain she won’t. Because I sense she can’t wrap her head around my being a single mom and producing television news.  Never mind that scores of single mom anchors, producers, and directors manage careers and children and seem to thrive.

A 2007 U.S. Census Bureau report cites approximately 13.6 million single parents in the United States today responsible for raising 21.2 million children (approximately 26% of children under 21 in the U.S. today).  That is quite a statistic.  Especially when coupled with a stat that puts the average annual monetary support figure (i.e., child support) for single parents at $4,900.00.  So of course single parents have to get out there and work.

Can somebody please spread the word?

Because the prejudice is not a one-off occurrence. Stories abound in my circle of acquaintance of being grilled on grandmother, nanny, or live-in options and being asked if there are plans for future pregnancies.

It’s pre-packaged labeling from the  word “go” and it’s neither fair nor moral.  Recently a well-known British journalist I was networking with cautioned: “You certainly don’t want to work full time or get into a heavy career.  You have your son to think about.” She wasn’t asking.  She was stating how it is.  Thanks, but by getting into something full time I am thinking of my son.

It reminds me of the time I went to a Madeline Albright book signing in San Francisco.  Someone in the audience asked Albright if she regretted her choice of fast political track over full time mommying. There isn’t a mold for all women she explained.  Some are meant for careers, others to stay home, and others for an in-between blend of the two.

But I DO believe, she told the packed house, that there’s a special place in hell for women who treat other women badly for the path they have chosen to follow.

The room erupted in applause.

I don’t believe the women mentioned here are malicious. But their notions are misguided, outdated, and frustrating.

Aren’t we supposed to be helping each other out?