I’m a Mom, Not a Hero

If motherhood is the only way women can be seen as heroes, something is very wrong

Vicki Larson

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We’re coming up on Mother’s Day, and that means the “mother as hero” rhetoric typically heats up.

I have the utmost respect and compassion for parents. As a mom, a co-parenting divorced mom, I know how hard a job parenting is. It’s harder than anything I have ever done and probably ever will do. That said, I am not a hero. My kids, now young men, may think I’m pretty cool as far as moms go, and have been generally kind about the ways in which I failed them — and fail I did. I don’t expect them to consider me a hero, but they can if they want. But no one else should.

Parents, moms or dads, single or married, are not heroes; we’re just people who decided to have children no matter what — our age, our health, our relationships status, our education, our income, our race, our religion, our gender. And once you make that decision, whether by birth or surrogacy or adoption or fostering, we are just doing the job we signed up for, and doing the job we signed up for does not necessarily make you a hero.

Mixed messages about single moms

A few months ago, GOP presidential hopeful Ohio Gov. John Kasich said, “single women with children are the real heroes in America.” A tweet from Bernie Sanders from last October proclaims: “When you talk about heroes and heroines, at the top of that list is the single moms of America.” Meanwhile, former GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush found himself backpedaling about his hurtful comments about publicly shaming single moms in the 1990s.

Single moms are both reviled and worshiped. This is a bit of a problem.

According to a 2011 Pew Research Center study, nearly seven out of 10 people polled said the trend toward “more single women deciding to have children without a male partner to help raise them” is bad for society. But, it’s happening anyway. About a third of children in the U.S. live with an unmarried parent,according to the Pew Research Center. While many of those parents are single,59 percent of all births outside of marriage occur to parents who are cohabiting. Still, more than 40 percent of births today are to single moms, and many of them are…

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Vicki Larson

Award-winning journalist, author of “Not Too Old For That" & "LATitude: How to Make a Live Apart Together Relationship Work (2024) coauthor of “The New I Do,”