The Truth About Single Moms

2015PromoPosterCollageSaturday I attended a writer’s conference. I had a long-standing commitment to participate on a panel with writers Cindy LaFerle and Lynne Cobb on women’s issues. The always fabulous Cindy LaFerle moderated the panel, so all I had to do was show up and say something smart. Not easy, but I’m a woman, I’ve been through stuff, I’ve written about it plenty.

I also had a spot in the bookstore, giving Luke a final push. Of all my novels, Luke’s #1 Rule has been the book closest to my heart. It’s got the most substance and I don’t just mean the various chemicals Spence ingests.

Like Chloe, I was once a single mother, so I talked about my real experience raising two little boys, trying to decide if dinner would be mac ‘n cheese or hot dogs. Chloe, I realized driving home from the conference, did not have to make hard choices about what to feed her kids. I had softened her life, given her the kind of support I didn’t get from her loving widowed mother, Ursula.

I made the story gritty for Spence, the ex-husband addict, but, except in love and work, I let Chloe way off the hook. She had a better job than mine as a secretary. As a “pink collar” worker, I was smack on the poverty line. Not so Chloe. She lived with her widowed mother, who handled childcare and cooking so Chloe could get on her feet as a single working mom.

My mom gave birth to me when she was 16. When I left my husband, she was not happy about it. She lashed out, saying she would not be babysitting while I “went off to work.” This was a hurtful thing to hear, not that I had asked. I never had any intention to ask. But that remark made me create Ursula, a grandmother in the most selfless sense of the word. LukeCH In real life, I had already arranged childcare before my mother’s remark. It was after school, until my dragon boss would let me go home. Yeah, the employer in the opening of Luke is based on the type of men I have worked for most of my adult life. Entitled, uncaring, unconcerned about my small children and smaller paychecks.

This post is a direct result of Cindy LaFerle’s “Writing Memoir” workshop. Cindy’s talk gave me the courage to write about real things in my past I have always preferred to fictionalize. Creating Chloe and Ursula was a way to mother myself, to live in a world for awhile with a happier alternative to the stark truth of being a single mom with nobody on your side.

It only occurred to me as I drove home from that conference that I didn’t do anybody any favors by softening the truth of what it means to be a single mom. Certainly not single mothers looking for some comfort. Of course, single moms in Detroit can’t afford to buy novels. And if they can, they don’t have time to read them.

12 Comments on “The Truth About Single Moms

  1. Cindy, wonderful post here — and thanks so much for your kind comments about my workshop at the conference. It was an honor to have YOU and Lynne Cobb on the “Women’s Issues” panel. You validated so many writers in attendance when you shared your experiences as a single mom, Cindy. It truly added an important topic to the discussion — and I look forward to reading “Luke” soon!

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  2. P.S. Cindy, I also wanted to say that I admire the way writers like you can take a painful personal experience or circumstance and artfully weave it into fiction. That’s healthy and helpful and good!

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    • It only took thirty years:) And as I said, some of it was wish fulfillment. Not that I would wish my beloved father gone too soon, or that I thought my mom (who was only 40 when I divorced) should take the three of us in…I was determined to do it “on my own” ~ but it sure is nice to have support, no matter how singular the journey.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Aw Lynne, I hope you enjoy. You know, it can sound a little like I’m selling my book, but really my writing (and as a writer too I know you get this) is my life, it’s all of a piece…I can’t disconnect that fictional field from my real world as the two are so closely tied. I do try to keep my private life, especially my children’s lives, but it seeps in…and that panel was so open about women’s issues it just opened me up. Plus…need I say more…Cindy LaFerle!

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    • Thank you Jackie. I did have my ex-husband and his wonderful wife. Unlike the fiction, my ex IRL was the farthest thing from an addict you can imagine. He was and is a wonderful dad. And his wife is just as awesome! I was lucky in that way–or my sons were ❤

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  3. Interesting post Cynthia. I did the reverse with my heroine – she suffered all that I did plus getting enmeshed in murder and fraud! anyway, it sounds like Spence did not get off the hook, so maybe the novel might have been too ‘busy’ if it had been gritty for all the characters. Anyway, I’m intrigued enough to add Luke’s #1 Rule to my TBR list and will let you know what I think!

    Liked by 1 person

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