The single mom in this saga is a role model of strength, dedication, and commitment, with a strong vision of moving ahead.
Before they were out of cribs, Rita's daughters Penny and Polly could be counted among the large contingency of children being raised by single moms. By the time they were seven and eight, their father, a playful and present participant in their lives, remarried, severing all but a minute amount of contact with his daughters. Despite his absence and the emotional toll that might have overwhelmed other impressionable little girls, Polly and Penny managed to get through school as top students, participate in all kinds of extracurricular activities, and develop friendships with boys and girls. Currently they are college grads with budding careers. Marriage is on the horizon for Polly.
A great deal of their success rests with their mother Rita, a 50-year-old educator who has never remarried. "My kids came first. Everything I did I chose to do. I was 100 percent there for them, just as I would be if I were married. They had quality of time, my undivided attention, and physical and emotional support. I must admit that when I got divorced I thought being single would be temporary. But with the men who entered my life, it would have been hard for me to watch them parent my kids. That wasn't martyrdom; it was simply my choice, as was not having men sleep over. There was just a real respect among the three of us for each other."
"You cannot compensate for the lack of a father. I felt my time and energy would best be spent in supporting them, being open to listening to them without poking around and intruding on feelings they did not want to share. We were very up front and forthcoming with each other. I wasn't looking for anyone to take the place of their father, and I didn't try to replace him either. Even though our family had a missing link, I could provide the girls with the example of a work ethic, how to deal with people, and how to be a strong female. I presented myself as a very real person with flaws who had achieved a healthy balance.
"I think they would agree that they came through as unscathed as one can under the circumstances, although not having a father in their lives will always affect them, partly because I didn't allow them to use that as an excuse. I knew that factored into the equation and I validated those feelings, but they knew that they were expected to move on as I had and become lifelong learners about the world and themselves."