What is a single mother more afraid of? I asked Kelley hoping for not touching some blind spot of this heroic woman. She breathed deeply and with a painful smile answered:
“I was afraid of letting my son down. I never got sick. I wasn’t allowed to. First of all, I had a job if you don’t show up you don’t get paid and secondly, who is going to do it if I couldn’t? I had no backup, and no one to help. I couldn’t call and asked his Dad, “Hey can you take care of our son this week because I have a fever?” I had the worst car, the worst of everything. Today, when I think of poverty… it's just that…I was tough.
Let's talk about the benefits of being a single mother I asked driving her memories to a better place.
“You don't have to ask anyone else opinion. It’s so funny because I think Parenting is very personal but it's also political. My experience with men back then was taught so I wanted to rise up a tough boy; to make him a tough man.”
Q: How about Society. How the Americans supported Single Parenting?
“My son was born in January 1980 right at the time when the trend to be a single parent changed. At the St. Anne’s home almost all the 19 pregnant single girls, mostly from high school, adopted their newborn child. Wasn’t easy to keep your baby that time, we were considerate busted and dirty cuz we had sex before marriage.
As for the LA County, I don't know if it’s changed now, but in the 80s they had the worst record for the debit dads. I named the father of my son in his birth certificate. I gave to the county my son's dad address and they never went after him, neither my parents. It’s odd because personally, I would get a bullet for my sons.”
Q: What about the neighborhood? Did they judge you?
“Yeah I was judged by everyone and I started feeling it when my son went to kindergarten and school. The other moms and dads looked at me suspiciously, mostly the moms. I was young, fit and a single woman. I believe they were afraid that I will go after their husbands. I felt my personal stigma, of being ashamed that my child is… you know… bastard and being a bastard back then was something really horrible. I tried so my child won’t be judged for what I did but he was although I kept him always clean and well-dressed.
Here's the thing about my oldest son, he was and he still is smart, inquisitive and super cute. Oh God, he was a cute kid with blue eyes and with an infectious laugh. I mean, he had that kid giggling and laughing sound effect that made people turn around. So everybody liked him. He got invited to places and stuff but he was marked too.”
Q: What are the needs of a child who grows up in a single-parent home?
“He needs the other parent too. Every Christmas and birthday, my son will crush my heart when he asked for a dad.
I felt so damaged between being rejected by his father and by my family. Who was going to marry me and who was going to love my son like I do? No, I won’t allow anyone to hurt my son as they hurt me.
However, I started intellectualizing the situation, saying, ‘Well Richard let's just say you had a dad what’s going to be?’ He would say, ‘I will go camping with him.’ And I will remind him that he camped with Boy Scouts. Then he will say, well, we can go to the park and play catch.’ And even here I was telling him that he really doesn't play catch.
Oh God, I was working so hard to make sure that he missed nothing. I had him in boy scouts, in playing soccer, tennis, basketball, never football, too dangerous. Look at the football uniform. I didn't want my son to become a gladiator. However, he was so funny.
After spending the night at a friend's house, he would always come home with the report of how the dad was, ‘Well last night was fine... you know… his dad is really nice, but he yells a lot.’
I believe based on my experience that a child needs both his parents' influence. My son starts asking about his dad when he was about 3 or 4 years old. I told him the story very appropriate for a child. He cried. I didn't want to hurt him, but the damn truth always hurt.
Richard was about 11 years-old when my second child was born. Two years later he wanted to find his dad and with my help he did it."
This interview of truth will keep going with more questions to be answered... Kelley will talk about Virtues, the difference between single dads to a single mom, Sperm Donor and more.