- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2015


“A man’s work is from sun to sun, but a mother’s work is never done.”

So goes an adage by old Anonymous, and how appropriate it is amid recent turmoil around the globe.

Pick a continent, and mothers deserve special recognition, whether it’s the moms in Nigeria who are praying mightily that their sons and daughters become neither victims nor part and parcel of the terrorism stronghold, mothers in China who risk challenging state authority by having more than one child or those in the Mideast, where violence is as much a part of their daily lives as breathing.

Here in America, violence is a daily fixture too, with kids killing kids and parents killing parents as if taking a violent turn is the only option.

Baltimore is a perfect example. Rioters took the wrong path following the April 27 funeral of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody. A mother — a single mother of six children — yanked her 16-year-old son out of the madness and whacked him a few times while blessing him out. While some saw her actions as child abuse, this mom obviously is a hero. She did what a mother is expected to do. If she hadn’t, you would have asked, “Where are their mothers?”

Too many of you are citing statistics and anecdotes to turn the words “single mom” into dirty words. They are not.

During both World Wars, mothers and other women did what men and young boys could not because they were off to war. In New England, mothers became skilled laborers on weapons production lines, and many were single moms. In the South, a shortage of agriculture workers led to the Women’s Land Army, in which organizers in 20 states added 15,000 workers to agribusiness rolls — and many were single moms.

World War II, which began in 1939, didn’t pull in our forces until after the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and afterward nobody had to ask, “Where are the mothers?”

U.S. military levels rose exponentially from about 334,470 in 1939 to more than 12 million at war’s end in 1945. The largest increase occurred in 1943, when practically every male-blooded American who could count his toes was in the military — fathers and sons, brothers and cousins, Northerners, Southerners, teachers and students. And women were among them in uniform, serving as volunteers, nurses and support for the Army Air Corps, Army, Coast Guard, Navy and Marines.

While the men and fathers were on the warfront, women and mothers broke labor barriers out of necessity. They became streetcar “conductorettes,” repaired airplanes, rigged parachutes, trained artillery gunners and carried out other tasks ordinarily only done by men. Of course, they continued to handle clerical chores as well.

And here on the home front, single mothers pulled double duty: They had to keep the children in line, manage the family budget, shovel the snow, mow the lawn and hold down a job.

Mothers — many of them single mothers — also were the moral barometer and disciplinarian.

“Single mother” wasn’t a dirty term then, and it shouldn’t be now.

Single mothers are widowed moms. Single mothers are divorced moms. Single mothers are adoptive moms. Single mothers are godmothers.

Yet for some reason we too easily trot out “single mom” when discussing underlying circumstances in Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc., etc., etc.

Are you going to add Kris Jenner to the “single mom” list now that she and Bruce Jenner are divorcing?

Special Mother’s Day honors

To my mom, Eula Simmons, thank you for still watching over me.

To my godmother, thank you for educating me.

To my personal and professional girlfriends who, like me, became single mothers, thank you.

To generations of mothers who do the best they can, Happy Mother’s Day!

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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