For Sheryl Sandberg, Mother’s day has come just six days after the one year anniversary of the death of her beloved husband, Dave.
The Facebook COO has written a touching tribute to single mothers after realising how difficult it is to work, live and love without a partner.
“On Mother’s Day, we celebrate all moms. This year I am thinking especially of the many mothers across the country and the world who are raising children on their own,” Sandberg wrote.
“People become single parents for many reasons: loss of a partner, breakdown of a relationship, by choice. One year and five days ago I joined them.”
The world of being a single parent was “new and unfamiliar” for Sandberg after the sudden death of her husband and she didn’t quite understand how hard it was.
“I did not really get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home. I did not understand how often I would look at my son’s or daughter’s crying face and not know how to stop the tears. How often situations would come up that Dave and I had never talked about and that I did not know how to handle on my own.”
She says she still is left asking herself, “What would Dave do if he were here?”
“I never understood how often the world would remind my children and me of what we don’t have—from father-daughter dances to Parent Night at school. Until we lost Dave, my brother said that he too did not realize how many “father” events there were at their public school in Houston and how hard they must be for the many children without fathers.”
As Sandberg so poignantly points out, the world that she faces is one that so many women must push through every single day. It’s a tireless battle for themselves and their beautiful children.
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“For many single mothers, this is the only world they know. Each and every day they make sacrifices, push through barriers, and nurture beautiful families despite the demands on their time and energy.”
Throughout the post, Sandberg pleads for the Government and workplaces to understand there is no longer a ‘traditional’ family and be more accommodating for single parents.
“I will never experience and understand all of the challenges most single moms face, but I understand a lot more than I did a year ago. Our widespread cultural assumption that every child lives with a two-parent heterosexual married couple is out of date. Since the early 1970s, the number of single mothers in the United States has nearly doubled. Today, almost 30 percent of families with children are headed by a single parent, and 84 percent of those are led by a single mother. And yet our attitudes and our policies do not reflect this shift.”
Sandberg also pointed out that there is often absolutely no “safety net” for single mothers, as they work hard to get food on the table every night and keep their kids safe.
“Thirty-five percent of single mothers experience food insecurity, and many single mothers have more than one job—and that does not count the job of taking care of their children. A missed paycheck or an illness can present impossible choices.”
The author and businessperson finished the post by reprimanding the US Government for being the only country with a developed economy to not offer paid maternity leave.
“We need to understand that it takes a community to raise children and that so many of our single mothers need and deserve a much more supportive community than we give them. We owe it to them and to their children to do better. We must do more as leaders, as coworkers, as neighbors, and as friends.
“Being a mother is the most important—and most humbling—job I’ve ever had. As we rightly celebrate motherhood, we should give special thanks to the women who are raising children on their own. And let’s vow to do more to support them, every day.”
So, thank you all single mothers out there. We honour you.