In the process of unwinding from my last trip, I indulged in a short marathon of my TV pleasures, including The Walking Dead, The Flash and (germane to this post) Arrow. Specifically, I had a moment in watching The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak that inspired me to stop watching and write. In it, one of the principle characters (the aforementioned Felicity, played by Emily Bett Rickards, is visited by her mother, Donna (played to the hilt by Charlotte Ross). Donna, as we learn, is a cocktail waitress from Las Vegas, and is somewhat of an embarrassment to her daughter. Her father was a genius who disappeared at some point, leaving Donna to raise Felicity on her own. It’s worth noting here that Felicity is a genius in the tech world. (And part of a long running storyline with Firestorm, one of my favorite characters, who may be introduced in the Flash series at some point. But I digress.)
ANYWAY, at one point Felicity is held at gunpoint (long story). Donna threatens her captor (Cooper, a former boyfriend, played by Nolan Funk), who is as submissive as buy guy code dictates. Here’s the relevant exchange:
Donna: Don’t you dare threaten my daughter.
Cooper: And here I thought you were all nails and hair.
Donna: Try a single mom who’s worked 60 hour weeks in six in heels for tips in order to raise that genius child you see right there.
(Truth, I get a little teary watching that scene. What? I’m not a robot!)
Look, we all have responsibilities that we deal with. It’s part of growing up. But it is easy to forget that the normal sacrifices we make on a regular basis to do right by those tiny humans we dragged into this world are magnified for the single parents among us. Even if they aren’t alone, the splitting of the martial unit, for any reason, amplifies the burden on the primary caregiver. (If you are a parent, and the phrase “primary caregiver” makes you wonder if that is you, it isn’t.)
For most of us, we work to provide something better for the next generation than we had. For the singles, from those I know, there is something else as well. A drive to succeed in the face of their challenge. To overcome the perceived deficit faced by a child of divorce. The need to prove that you can do right by your children and by yourself. And you can. As has been proved so many times over.
This isn’t a groundbreaking thought, and it’s not one that many will argue with. But I’ll say it anyway. I respect the hell out of the single moms and dads that I know, including both those that have managed to work out a co-parenting scheme and those that haven’t. Out jobs as parents is to raise the next round of adults, and the burden laid at their feet is not just difficult, but critical to our society as a whole. Thank you for your service and your moxie. You all deserve more recognition than you are likely to get. But my pledge to you is that I will buy you the beverage of your choice, day or night, any time you can find me.
It’s not much, but it’s the least I can do.