It wasn't so much the flaming red cover that caught my eye as it was the bright yellow headline. A recent cover of US Weekly magazine proclaimed, "The New Single Moms And How They Do It!" It was emblazoned with pictures of new mother Camryn Manheim, recent adoptive mom Calista Flockhart, pg-again Jodie Foster, widow Katie Couric, and headed to divorce court Nicole Kidman. Before opening the magazine, the writer in me was truly curious as to the slant of the article. Upon finishing it, the mom in me was truly indignant.
I'm not a single parent. I want to state that up-front. I am happily married to a wonderful man who is a hands-on father and mate. And in our "Leave It To Beaver" world, he goes out to work and I stay home with our children. However, unlike the featured celebs, I happen to reside in reality. We are not rich, and like most people, we ride the carrousel of revolving monthly debt. We cut coupons, save for vacations and going out on the town is a true treat. Therein lies the reason for my state of indignitude. (Don't bother looking that up. My spell check just blew a gasket too.)
The article droned on about their hardships, challenges, etc, but not once did it make mention of what sets them apart from the inhabitants of Realityville. Nowhere in the pages of that article did it point out what is all too obvious to those of us buying the magazine, not starring on its cover. That no matter how difficult they consider their single parentdom, it is made dramatically easier by one simple word: MONEY.
While the general populous no longer slaps a Scarlet A on the chests of nonmarried pregnant ladies, celebrities have practically made it a status symbol. They revel in free maternity clothes from designers, their shows write their pregnancies into the storylines and in many cases they exploit the PR by proudly claiming, "there is no father." A sperm donor, yes, a father, no. They are protected by their celebrity status and their large paychecks. In the real world when a young woman becomes pregnant and is on her own, her heart beats faster, not because of the paparazzi waiting to capture her growing belly for The National Enquirer, but because of the immense fear and pressure she is now under.
How about the single largest expense and heartache of all parents out here in reality, that of childcare? Finding a decent, clean, loving environment, inhabited by decent, clean, loving caregivers is a struggle I watch my working friends face daily. How often have we read of the built in daycare facilities on the sets of most programs/films? Not only does the production provide this service, it is mere steps away. Rest assured, Camryn and Calista will not have to drive miles across town to check on their babies. And when their schedules demand going on location? A well-paid, well-trained nanny goes with them. Personally, the best I can do is plan my travels around when Grandma is coming to visit. And a simple night out with my husband? Weeks of logistical planning in order to secure a dependable sitter.
I don't live in Hollywood. In my town, I see single parents everyday working two and three jobs, just to put macaroni and cheese on the table, a tenement roof overhead, and clothes from Goodwill on their children. Then I open the pages of US Weekly and see celebrity children dining at Spago, living in splendor and wearing tennis shoes that cost more than the clothes on all three of my kids combined. And I am urged to admire the celebrity parents of these children who "juggle and struggle" in their singledom. Hmmmmm. . .
I don't doubt the love Katie Couric has for her daughters, or the passion Rosie O'Donnell has for her kids, but I will save my true admiration for the single parents who get up every day, work themselves to exhaustion and still manage to raise loved, responsible children.
Katie and Rosie may argue that they do just that, but let's see them do it without the help of their ten million dollar paychecks.
There's a big difference between being Single and being $ingle.