Single parents around the world have endured all manner of inequities, discrimination and invisibility — overt and subtle — and the COVID-19 pandemic has merely amplified that suffering.
Our anguish has underscored and, at times, led the conversation about income inequality, in-school learning, child care and an end to child poverty, issues that have been positioned into greater relevance globally.
But Sunday should give us a reprieve from our struggles.
National Single Parent Day
This day is one of recognition, not alienation, when we take a moment to celebrate — and be celebrated for — our strength, determination and dedication to the life we chose to pursue with our families and for some, a life we did not choose.
National Single Parent Day is observed annually on March 21 in the United States as well as other countries around the world. In the United Kingdom, Gingerbread, an organization that has supported single parents economically, socially and politically for more than a century, is showcasing the achievements of single mums and single dads. On social media follow the hashtags #SingleParentsDay and #NationalSingleParentsDay.
Super single moms and dads
This year, like I did in 2019, I am celebrating the personal and professional greatness of some extraordinary single parents. Check out their accomplishments below in no particular order:
Justina Jarrard is the new host of the radio show “Start Your Day with JJ,” a talk show on 790-WTNY. This single mother of two started her career at Stephens Media Group as a receptionist. “Hey, look what mom’s doing, you know. Not only does mom not have a whole lot of radio experience, now all of a sudden I have my own morning show and it’s on a station that has never historically had a female,” she said in this news report by WWNY in Watertown, NY.
Machelle Hamilton appears to be working nonstop. This single mother of five works a full-time graveyard shift and supports her children with their online learning. Naps are grabbed now and then. “Everybody has a calendar. I’m trying to train them to write down what their teacher needs them to do, due dates for things, because visually they see it and it’s easier for me to stay on task,” she said in a news report by KGW8 in Portland, OR.
U.S. Rep. Katie Porter, one of the few single parents in Congress, is proposing legislation to help people without a safety net. This single mother of three from California has reintroduced the Family Savings for Kids and Seniors Act that would tie to inflation the amount of pretax dollars parents can set aside to pay for things like preschool, day care, summer camp and after school care. The pretax amount has not changed since 1986, according to a news report by The 19th.
Timothy Montjoy started a national organization to provide enjoyable sports experiences for children. This retired Airman and single father of one began Operation Teammate to positively engage children who separated from their parents because of deployment, among other situations. “My being a single parent and my daughter being a single child, we experienced firsthand that military separation. The result of that separation, psychological and physical toll that it takes on the military child, just because mom or dad or both are away from home, is very personal to us,” he said in a news report by Military.com.
Esther Thomas was elected to the Middlebury town selectboard, the governing body of the Vermont community. This single mother of two also works as a college residential director at Middlebury College. “‘Let’s change, and let’s do this,’ I’ve got to understand what I’m walking into, understanding the systems that are in place, how the town works, how decisions are made,” she said in a news report by The Middlebury Campus, the college’s only student-run newspaper.
Herbert Lamont Barr III is the co-owner of the Hackensack Brewing Co. in Hackensack, NJ. This single father of one is one of four Black brewery owners in the state. “I like that we’re in Hackensack. We’ve taken that as our name. I’ve met a ton of people in this community. When we started, I was more chasing a dream with a friend. Now, it’s something more,” he said in a news report by NorthJersey.com.
Wesley Hamilton, who was paralyzed from the waist down because of a shooting, created a nonprofit to empower people with disabilities through fitness and nutrition programs. This single father of one established Disabled But Not Really with the support of his daughter who encouraged him to regain control of his life. “My main goal is to teach people how to … take full accountability and embrace your reality despite the circumstances that you face. When we go through our program, it’s only the beginning,” he said in a news report by KMOV4 in Kansas City, MO.
Riya Vashist is an international makeup artist who divorced her husband in India and attended school in the United States. This single mother of two now runs her own makeup academy in Los Angeles, CA, and provides free beauty training for women in need. “Practice self-love and self-care. Women have always been giving and sacrificing so much but guess it’s time they start loving themselves,” she said in a news report by CitySpidey.com.
Melissa Scott is one of several female entrepreneurs featured in the “She Angel Investors” series on YouTube. This single mother, who is also deaf, started Modefywear, a line of activewear that allows modest or religious women to be comfortable and functional while wearing their headscarves. She Angel Investors is a nonprofit that supports businesswomen with funding and services.
Lisa Nichols was one of the performers in the short film titled “Let’s Grow.” This single mother and globally recognized motivational speaker confronts racially charged issues in the United States in a raw, unapologetic manner. “We wanted to foster passionate healing conversations through the use of the spoken word in order to bring people from all walks of life together for the greater good,” she said in a media release.
Maria Eells was awarded the 2020 Stacie Rae Morse-Gift of Flight Scholarship in her pursuit to become a certified flight nurse. This single mother plans to live and work in Sitka, AK, because of her connection to the community and the land. “I feel like it’s very limited to the Southeast and I want to live here. I have roots, and I feel like that’s a really good opportunity to take care of the community, the entire Southeast,” she said in a news report by the Juneau Empire.
Zania Alake pursued her passion for music and passed the blind audition of the television series “The Voice.” This single mother of two performed “Sweet Love” by Anita Baker in mid-March. “My mother would put on kitchen concerts. My mom is an inspiration to me. Even after I had my kids, she’s always there for me,” she said in a news report on mlive.com.
Joanie Courtney was named to the 2020 Global Power 150 – Women in Staffing list by Staffing Industry Analysts for her work as president of RemX Specialty Staffing. This single mother of two understands the challenges single moms encounter in getting an education and entering or re-entering the workforce. “The good news is that advancements in technology are making it easier to find, select and train people, so we can help our workforce and businesses adapt quickly and thrive,” she said in a media release.
U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland is the first Native-American to be confirmed as a Cabinet Secretary, having been confirmed as the Secretary of the Interior. This single mother received her bachelor’s degree at the age of 34 and her law degree at 46. “If an Indigenous woman from humble beginnings can be confirmed as secretary of the Interior, our country holds promise for everyone,” she said in a news report by WTOP.
Reflecting on the successes of these single moms and single dads — and the many who fight, love and work daily — makes the proclamation announcing National Single Parent Day in 1984 in the United States even more powerful:
“Many single parents in America are making valiant efforts on behalf of their children under trying circumstances. Whether it is a deserted spouse forced to work and care for children simultaneously, or a spouse who is not receiving child support that has been awarded by a court, or an unwed mother who has bravely foregone the all-too-available option of abortion, or a widow or widower, single parents deserve our recognition and appreciation for their demonstrated dedication to their young.”
Single parents are visible — more than 25 percent of the U.S. population as of 2020 — and we do make a difference in our families and communities.
Our struggles are so very real, but please, dear reader, do not give up. I believe in you!
On Thursdays, I share a blog about a day in the actual life of a single parent. Every other Thursday, instead of a personal post, I put together one where I assemble news on and about single parents nationally and globally.