Unsung Heroines: Single Mothers and the American Dream

By Ruth Sidel | Go to book overview

6
“I Have to Do Something
with My Life”
Derailed Dreams

I thought I was going to be a doctor but that’s all changed. I
changed my life.                   Pamela Curtis, 26-year-old mother of one

Then I met my daughter’s father. I had sex with him and the third
time I got pregnant. I went through the whole pregnancy myself.
I made two appointments for an abortion but I couldn’t go
through with it. I should have done it. I love my daughter but I
haven’t accomplished anything.
                                     Diana Suarez, 23-year-old mother of one

Many women have been able to cope remarkably effectively, even heroically, with the challenges of single motherhood, but others suffer more severe consequences from poverty, isolation, emotional burnout, and unfulfilled aspirations. Single mothers are, not surprisingly, frequently mired in the basic activities of daily life—working, caring for their children, putting food on the table, paying the rent. And low-income women bear a double burden as a profound shortage of resources is added to single motherhood. Long work hours, low pay, inadequate education and training, and insufficient, inaccessible, and costly day care and afterschool care together create hurdles that are nearly insurmountable as these women attempt to make a decent, rewarding life for themselves and their children. When critics decry the negative impact of single motherhood on children, they generally overlook the courage and creativity, the

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