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Fear and Loathing in Grade School

I am a single mother.

We have a terrible reputation. Huge stereotypes. Single mothers are careless. They are sluts. They are poor (as if that is a character defect). They are bad parents. They are out to get your husband. They are coming into your district from the poor part of town (again, with the judgment about the poor).

Single mothers neglect their children. Single mothers are on welfare. Single mothers are on drugs. Single mothers drink too much, smoke too much. They are teenagers. (And some are, but it isn't really the point.)


I am a single mother.

I don't drink much at all. I haven't smoked since I was in my early 20s. Long before I became a mother. I don't do drugs. Drugs are stupid. But, why are these habits anyone's business, besides illegal drugs which are, obviously, illegal? Why aren't we questioning those wealthier parents about their drinking and smoking habits? Don't two parent households have people who take drugs? Why aren't we asking/accusing them of neglect their children?

I'm not wealthy, but we do okay. However, lots of people are poor or working parents. It's not really restricted to the single mother set to be poor nor should any of us have the right to pass judgment on who gets to have a family or on people who are poor. Poverty is not a character flaw. Rich people might have money, but they also might be assholes who beat their kids. Bad or good behaviors are not restricted to one group of people nor dependent on how much money they make.

I am a good parent. I have no designs on your husband. I live in the wealthy school district, not that it matters. I am not on welfare. I am not a teenager, not that it matters.


Statistically, those in poverty do have a harder time with things, but it's a gimme, isn't it. Of course they do. However, single teenage mothers make up very little of those on welfare. Did you know that? (Teenage mothers make up around 7.6% or so. It's usually larger families with 3 or 4 people, not teen moms.) But, regardless, I don't understand why it's an indictment to get help if you need it. Statistically, most people get off welfare when they get a job. It seems to work, then.

Comments I have fielded since the rich parents at my child's school found out I was a single mother:


One Dad: Oh! You live here? I thought you lived .... somewhere else .... in another district. (There is a district next to this one that lives in insular poverty.)

Me: No, but it doesn't really matter, does it? (smile)


Another Dad: Oh! You're a single mother! (pause) I'm sorry.

Me: Um, no, we're a two person family. Nothing to be sorry about.

Same Another Dad: Well, it must be hard that He ran off from you.

(This never happened, by the way. I owe no other explanation, but there is no man who "ran off from me.")



Me: Your child is so wonderful! He's so great with his reading and math!

Other Mother: (sneer) Well, he's good at lots of things that are more important than that.


Me: (recoil in surprise and confusion) Um, yes, he's a great kid. He really sets a great example for my child and the rest of the class. (pause) He's very kind.

Other Mother: (mean smile) Well! He tries to help out. (Looks pointedly at my child) Wherever he can.


(I admit it. My child was standing there for that, so I cried in the car privately after that one.)


I worry. These people, these parents ... what attitudes will they bring to their kids? What will those children say to my child?


Recently, my child came home and told me: "Little Kid at school says I'm not real because I don't have a dad."

Me: That's nonsense. You have that. But, every at home family is different. Sometimes, there are two moms. Sometimes, there are two dads. Sometimes, there is a mom and a dad. Sometimes, it's a grandma and a kid. Or a grandad! Or aunts and uncles! Or, you even get to make friends part of your family as you get older. You are very real. You are the realest person I know.


I don't get it, you guys. What are people such evil assholes? What purpose does it serve to hurt others to feel superior? What purpose does it serve to judge a situation that you know nothing about?

Sometimes, I just feel despair at the crappy behavior of my fellow human beings.


**Not asking for advice. Just venting. I feel dumb that it's getting to me.

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