Single parenting, child abuse, and Wisconsin

I don’t really write about my ex-husband or my divorce on this blog. I rarely even mention either of them, and that has been a conscious decision. There are some things that I just don’t feel are appropriate for me to discuss on such a public venue for a variety of reasons – the most important of which is that my daughter might read this someday.

I’m deviating from that general rule a little bit tonight so that I can express a few of the things that brought me to where I am today . . . a few of the reasons I have taken on the role of a single mother.

Since I was in my early teens, I fully believed that I would never get married. I never wanted to get married. I thought it was archaic and unnecessary. I thought if you loved someone and wanted to spend your life with that someone, you didn’t need a piece of paper and a ring in order to do it. And I thought if you wanted to no longer be with someone, a piece of paper and a ring wouldn’t keep you around. I’m sure my mom’s three marriages contributed to that philosophy.

But in my early 20s, I found myself in love. I found myself with a man I believed I would spend the rest of my life with. And I found my biological clock going out of control. I wanted to be a mom and there I was with the man I wanted to grow old with . . . and that piece of paper and ring were important to him. So, I got married. And six months later, I was pregnant.

Things were great for a while, but by the time my daughter was 2 ½ years old, she rarely saw her father and me happy together (unless, of course, we were in public). I won’t go into the details . . . they’re not important for this. Quite simply, life had changed each of us. Saying we were no longer the same people we were when we met, when we fell in love, when we got married would be a gross understatement.

I fought for a long time to make things work, but we were both miserable . . . all the time. I came to believe that the best thing for us and for our daughter would be to end the marriage. Later he came to believe the same. I thought it would be better for her to be raised by two happy parents who were not together than by two miserable parents who were.

Of course, it all came with a ton of guilt. I felt like a failure. I felt like the worst mom in the world. I felt like I did everything wrong and it was all my fault. I think that’s a normal reaction when a major relationship ends . . . especially when a child is involved.

Still, I stand by that decision and I know that all three of us are happier than we would have been.

I don’t think I’m the world’s best mom. Most of the time, I don’t think I’m a great mom. Sometimes, I don’t even think I’m a very good mom. If you’re a mom (or a dad), you can probably relate to that. What I know is that I do the absolute best I can for my daughter every single day. I know that she is the number one priority behind every decision I make. I know I love her more than anything else in this life. And I know that even though she can drive me crazy at times, she’s a really great kid and I’m at least partially responsible for that.

So, when I read this article tonight about a Wisconsin state senator who has introduced a bill that would require “the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect,” I got pissed off. In fact, I got completely fucking livid.

Glen Grothman believes the Left discourages people from getting married and encourages them to have children out of wedlock so that those children will then become dependent on the government. In fact, he wrote all about “How The United States and the State of Wisconsin are Working to Encourage Single-Motherhood and Discouraging Children in 2-Parent Families.”

I could probably write an entire book on the issues I have with Grothman’s theories about family. To think for one second that most single parents choose this for financial gain isn’t just ridiculous, it’s completely fucking stupid.

After my separation, I had to move in with a friend and rent a couple of bedrooms from her house because I could no longer afford my tiny 2-bedroom apartment. I worked every second of over time I could . . . sacrificing time with my daughter . . . so I could keep myself above water. The only “social program” I used was WIC . . . and thank heavens for that because the milk for my lactose-intolerant daughter was $9 a gallon.

I could go on, but the point is that being a single parent is not easy. And while I know there are people who “abuse the system,” you’re completely bat-shit insane if you think most of us want this!

Oh, and I love how Grothman emphasizes single mothers . . . as if fathers don’t factor in to single parenting . . . but I digress . . .

So single parenting as a contributing factor to child abuse? Dave Riley, a Human Development and Family Studies professor summed up most of my thoughts – This is from another article about Grothman’s bill:

“Research has found that leaving a conflictual marriage actually improves parent-child relationships, particularly if the co-parents get along better after separating. . . . Regardless of what kind of family you live in, the important thing is the quality of the relationships within that family.”

To get back to my personal perspective, my daughter is happy, healthy, well cared for, and loved as much as any child could possibly be loved. She spends her time between two homes that are chock full of smiles and laughter instead of arguments and tears.

And I am the parent I am today not despite being a single mom but because of it.

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13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Bluejellybeans on July 8, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Great post! I agree with you 🙂

    Reply

  2. I couldn’t agree more, and this kind of stuff makes me crazy. I am all for an old-fashioned marriage and family . . . IF that is what you choose for your life. I know it’s the best option for me, but I don’t pretend that my choices or way of life are the only way for everyone. This reminded me of a post I saw on FB, how men wanted to make women stay inside after dark to cut down on rapes, and one woman said something about making the MEN stay inside, because who on earth did they think were actually raping the women? I’ve never considered myself a feminist, but the whole “Stay in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant” attitude is really annoying, especially in a day and age when financially, that is more than likely impossible. Anyway, I’m rambling. Great post as always, Dayle! You did the best thing you could for your family and one day, your daughter will thank you!

    Reply

    • I saw that post and was actually going to write about it . . . but never got around to it!

      Thank you for your thoughts . . . you can ALWAYS ramble here!

      Reply

  3. Posted by Anne Katherine on July 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I love all the pictures of you and your daughter– you are both so beautiful! I am the daughter of a single mom and I know firsthand that most women would never choose that path. It happens for various reasons, but how ridiculous that financial gain would be one of them. That is ludicrous. Nothing saps at you financially more than having a child… not at first, but over the years – they get more and more expensive. But at first the sheer child care can kill you. It is very difficult to cover child care with an entry level job (and rent and food and so forth). And that whole situation makes me angry — because child care workers should be paid a LOT more than they get paid, and yet they don’t because our society does not value their input. And yet it’s so hard for the moms to pay them any more than the minimum, because they are trying to just survive.
    I feel the same as you do about being a mom – there are so many ways and things I could tell you that make me not a great mom — but you’re right that what’s most important is if you are doing your best — and that’s all we can ask of ourselves.

    Reply

  4. Posted by lamehousewife on July 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Did I hear that they were trying to make a law up there that would punish single mothers for being single somehow. This came up on someone’s blog about 2 or 3 months ago…wondering if it was from the same politician.

    Reply

  5. From one single mom to another-AMEN SISTER!

    http://giantmt25.wordpress.com/

    Reply

  6. And you’re a great mom! It’s ridiculous that someone would have even say something like this about single moms!
    My oldest niece got a divorce about 2 years ago because they were no longer happy and I totally agreed with her because I felt like if the parents are not happy, then the kids will be miserable. Sometime choosing to divorce is what is BEST for the kids and sometimes a parent might lose their spouse to death…
    Now my niece is with a new guy but they aren’t married and as far as I am concerned, if she never wants to marry again and just live with the guy, it’s fine by me…as long as they are happy and my 2 great nephews are happy, then it’s fine by me!

    Reply

    • Aww, thank you!

      “as long as they are happy and my 2 great nephews are happy, then it’s fine by me!”

      And that’s exactly as it should be! 🙂

      Reply

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