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I’m not writing to discuss and debate the legitimacy or emotion behind the term single mother. Nope, I’m not really interested in any kind of deep, political, racial or socio-economic debate about single mothers in our society. That’s not my soapbox. If anyone starts that foolishness in the comments, I’ll actually delete ‘cha, m’kay? Cool.

What I do want to discuss is NOT being a single mother. I am NOT a single mother. Let me repeat that once again for folks sitting in the cheap seats without a good view of the jumbrotron – I am NOT a single mother.

In the most basic of terms, yes, I am a mother and no, I do not have a living partner. I am a widow. I am a mother. I am a widowed mother. To call me single is just inaccurate. I was raised in a family that encouraged me yet set certain expectations for how my life should proceed. This isn’t judgement or censure for what anyone else was taught, how they were raised, or for the choices that they make. This is about ME. Things in my life proceeded in the way that I felt they should. I fell in love with my high school sweetheart. We dated. We got married. We bought a house. We decided together to start a family. We had a son. Then my husband died.

I fell in love with a nice kid, who turned into a decent young man, who turned into a good father and husband. I certainly wouldn’t have written the movie of my life with my husband dying at 36 but I had no choice in the matter. I did not choose to parent alone. I did not pick a bad partner. I was not deserted or abandoned. My son was not rejected.

I’m in the other box now. The widow box. When filing out paperwork, there are boxes for single, married, divorced and widowed. I am a widow. I am a mother. Just as divorced and widowed are not the same, neither are single mother and widowed mother. They simply aren’t. The person who prompted this post did not deserve my response, so I did not offer one to her. My stony glare and silence were loud and strong. Regardless of how it is intended, recognize that it is insulting to my deceased husband and it is offensive to me. Please do not refer to me or any other widowed parent as “single” because we are not.

Taya Dunn Johnson,


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