Open Letter To Single Moms On Father’s Day

Dear Single Moms:

First, kudos to you! We give you the utmost respect and admiration. You sacrifice and put your children first. Sleepless nights, no days off, runny noses, tears and so much more is what you have your hands full with. Your love is repaid with butterfly kisses, big hugs, cuddles, and I love you’s.

For all of the wonderful things you do, for all of the irreplaceable moments you’re there for, you’ll always be an awesome mother.  However, I’m going to say something that you may not agree with.  While you play the role of both parents for your children, you can never be the father.

Greeting cards companies have now started making Father’s day cards for single moms. The reason a mother AND father are needed in a family is because they both play very distinct, but very different roles. The ideal situation is to have both parents in the home. However, it’s not always possible. Even in situations where it’s not possible, the mother is still the mother, and the father is still the father.

If single mothers are now taking credit for Father’s day, should single fathers take credit for Mother’s day? Each parent should be an active part of their child’s life. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. When we become parents, we decide to do what we need to for our children, even if that means taking over where another parent may fall short.

While we don’t get extra credit for doing what we have to do, we earn it through our children. Our children grow up and recognize the sacrifice we make for them. They recognize even when their parent has to fill in for the other parent. As a single mom, you play an important role in your child’s life, an irreplaceable role, but you are still not a father. Please do not wish single moms a happy father’s day unless you’re going to wish single fathers a happy mother’s day. I’m sure many will disagree with this, and that’s ok. A woman can not teach a child from a father’s standpoint because she has never been one. That’s like saying a woman can teach a man how to be a man.  No, she can not. She can teach him what her idea of a man is, but she will never speak from a place of personal experience.

So single moms, you ladies are awesome! You all rock!  Please continue to celebrate Mother’s day.  *In my Maury voice* You are not the father! Please don’t feel like I’m taking anything from you, because I’m not. This is just the reality of things.

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A Mother’s Instinct

Being a mother is by far the most difficult, yet rewarding job I’ve ever had. This ride has been filled with ups and downs, sleepless nights, laughter, tears of joy and tears of hurt. I remember before having kids, I couldn’t imagine life with children. After having them, I can’t imagine life without them.
There have been many times when I was torn between what to do for my children. What was in their best interest? How would it affect them for the rest of their lives? Is this the best move?

I questioned myself about pulling my daughter out of school and home schooling. I questioned myself about getting my son tested for Autism. I knew something was wrong, but everyone told me I was worried about nothing. I questioned myself about taking my daughter to urgent care recently. Turns out she has a sprain in her arm from falling, and damaged ligaments and tendons. All of this to say that I have had many moments of uncertainty as a mother.
In those moments, the one thing I can say is I have followed my instinct. I didn’t always know how it would work out, and while I hoped and prayed everything would turn out well, there was no reassurance. I am imperfect, but my hope is that when my children are old enough, they see just how much I loved them, and that despite my own imperfections, I always put them first.
There have been times when I have had to stand my ground against those who felt what I was doing was not the right thing. This includes family. As a mother, I had to trust my instincts. Whether it was the popular notion or not, the one thing I can say is I’ve never regretted it. I’ve always done what I felt was the best for my children.

As a mother, have you had to go against the grain and follow your instincts? I’d love to hear about it.

Photo credit: Tg-Pint / Foter / CC BY

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Fight for Their Education

SLRD – Slow Learning Reading Disability. That is what I was labeled entering high school. I had a speech impediment. I could not say certain sounds correctly which made entire words sound wrong. That is odd to say looking at my life now as a voice talent, speaker, and radio/tv personality but it is true. I also read slowly, mixed up lines, and had trouble retrieving words leading to another label; dyslexic. I never felt what some would call dumb or slow but I was very conscious of the fact that I was not the smartest. I did not understand it but was okay with falling in the middle as just average.

I accepted my mediocrity which really made it a challenge for me to understand why they were forcing me into “special” classes meant to help a problem I did not have until they slapped that label on me and told me I had it. I was completely distraught. I did not want to be pulled out of “normal” classes, separated and treated like some special case that could not learn. I would come home visibly upset.

Fortunately, I had a mom who was willing to fight for my potential. She made countless trips to counselors, school administrators, and teachers until they cringed when they saw her coming. She was willing to fight until the label, and all the it implied, was removed from her child. Eventually, it was. They put me in “regular” classes, I graduated high school, then college with high honors, then graduate school, and continued my life’s work and even given an honorary doctorate. The odds were against me achieving any of that while living within the confines of the special education system.

I have been an educator for 20+ years. I started in higher education then transitioned into Adult Basic Education teaching GED courses. In one program, I teach young adults. The effects of the societal and educational labels we give are so obvious. Their entire life, they have been told they were “dumb,” “stupid,” “slow,” and worse from teachers, parents, and friends. Now, they identify themselves by those labels. Even more so, they hold a sense of entitlement to receive the accommodations those labels may afford. From being named as “low-income” and demanding the benefits of the social services/welfare system, to being called “learning disabled” and documenting it through IEP’s stating they need more time to perform tasks. They are never pushed, driven, or required to explore and meet their full potential.

Everyone has a different learning style. Everyone cannot be the smartest in the room. Our brains engage content and make connections at different speeds. Not everyone will excel at every thing but we do not have to declare that someone will fail at it either. Even more so, we should not let our educational system declare our children incapable either. Special education is divisive and sends a message of inferiority to those it stamps as learning or intellectually disabled. I know this from personal experience.

I would love to believe I am the only person to have experienced this but I am not. I see it every time one of my students master a difficult math concept, then turn to me and say with amazement, “See, I am smart. I am smart.” I do not have a solution for how to overhaul the special education system in our country. I will not pretend that is my lane. Mine is to educate all learning styles and teach anyone who desires knowledge. I am an educator, not a “special” educator.

I am also a mother; a key influence in how my daughter sees herself. That includes being a voice for her educational career. You are a voice for your children too. We cannot just send them to school then wait for report cards nor willingly accept any label others place on them. It is about active parenting. Be their advocate. Work to position them for their future success. Our children…all children…are worth fighting for.

 

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