Excuse my language, I’m not one to curse and if you met me in person, you would say that I come across as prim and proper. I use the expression “WTF” as the title of this blog post because it accurately describes how I felt after I became a single mom or, I should say, how I felt about the judgmental way other people treated me after I became a single mom, particularly by married mothers (I will cover this topic later in my blog) .
Here I was happily living on my own in an apartment with my 7-year-old daughter, working full-time in a new job, feeling better than I had in years because I was independent, self-sufficient, and confident due to the fact that I was free from the torment of my ex-husband, which had taken a huge emotional and physical toll on me. I could finally live in peace and calm without all the rage, hostility, and hate of my ex. The incredible sense of relief I felt was amazing!
Yet the minute I switched from a married woman to a single woman, the perception of the members of my community completely changed. It was as if I wore a shaming scarlet “D” on my chest for “Divorced” like the character, Hester Prynn in “The Scarlet Letter” (except she donned an “A” for adultery). Perhaps it’s because I live in Dallas, Texas, an ultra-conservative, Christian city with churches planted on every corner and an obsessive fondness for everything Republican, especially Donald Trump, who, in my opinion, personifies the word misogynist (please note that my blog is not in any way a political forum! I only use the words Republican and Trump to characterize the city of Dallas).
Never in my life have I experienced so much pity, judgement, and shame once I became a single mom. It felt as if I had a contagious disease that no one (meaning married women) wanted to catch. These women kept their distance from me yet they talked behind my back like catty teenage girls. For example, at the small, conservative, Christian school my daughter attended, rumors about me swirled among the teachers and parents. The one friend I had confided in me that the gossip buzzing around was:
- My ex-husband divorced me because I cheated on him – I was an adulterer.
- I was a bad mother for committing the sin of divorce (apparently, somewhere in the Bible, divorce is quoted as being a sin).
- I left my husband because I was gold digger looking to trade in my ex for a wealthy man.
- I was a selfish, unrepenting, shameful woman deliberately hurting my daughter by breaking apart my family (by the way, I despise the phrase, “broken home” when referring to families with divorced parents).
- I was a promiscuous woman with loose morals and my daughter would grow up to be the same way.
Things got so bad I had to go to the principal and ask him to put an end to the rumor mill. I demanded that my privacy be respected and that the members of the school community treat me with compassion and kindness, like the good Christians they claimed to be.
Needless to say, I was extremely hurt and angry by the hypocritical behavior of the teachers and parents at my daughter’s school, which she had been attending since she was a toddler in their Mother’s Day Out program. When I was married, I fit right in, I made friends, I volunteered, and I enjoyed being part of the school community.
Truth be told, I was actually quite devastated by the rejection and malicious talk behind my back. As a newly single mother, I needed the support and nurturing warmth that I had always received at the school. Instead, I was regarded as an outcast, a sinner, and a degenerate. In my opinion, single mothers, and, for that matter, single parents in general, need emotional support and a feeling of fellowship and inclusivity with others in their community, especially right after a divorce. Not rejection, blame, and abomination, for heaven’s sake.
I had to endure seven years of this treatment until my daughter graduated from the 8th grade. My feelings were hurt so deeply that I began to believe that something was wrong with me for being a single mom. My experience made me realize how much single mothers are marginalized in our society, how we’re perceived as “less than”, and how we’re often the target of blame for the high divorce rate and ensuing societal ills in our country.
My experience at my daughter’s school is what first gave me the idea to write this blog about being a single mom, but I was too scared at the time. It took me ten years to muster the courage to go public with my story. In a million years, I never would have guessed the sequence of events that took place next after I began my single mother narrative. Read on… I welcome your feedback! I’d love to know the perceptions of your community after you first became a single mom. Please share your stories! I promise to read each and every one and respond accordingly with love and support.