It only happened to me a couple of times since my divorce, but every once in a while I would catch myself in front of the bathroom mirror, staring at my reflection and thinking, “This was not the way my life was supposed to turn out.” Now, despite being a single parent and a corporate dropout, this is not an entirely negative thought; simply a statement of the facts.
Like my peers, I was raised to be a corporate warrior who would one day marry, have a couple of kids, and a minivan. (In other words, become the Enjoli perfume woman who could bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan.) Well, I have the kid (which made corporate America rather difficult), but my fear of suburbia and aversion to minivans also made my having a traditional marriage even more difficult (not to mention, I tend to microwave my bacon). So here I am – divorced and adrift in the world of Bad Dates, Babysitters and Boardrooms. Welcome to the world, single girl.
Not many of us ever really envisioned ourselves as permanently single. After all, most of us grew up with stay-at-home moms. But, with over 15 million single women heading up U.S. households, being single is becoming much more common. Unfortunately, we just don’t have much in common with the rest of the world. In fact, in the last election season, a poll found that single women of all ages and backgrounds (with or without kids), identified more closely with other single women than with their own ethnic group, religious affiliation, economic class or married peers. As one woman in the study put it, “Our single status marginalizes us politically as well as socially.” Welcome to the world, single girls.
So with our single status, who do we have for role models? In the 1970s, we watched Mary Richards toss her hat in the air and turn the world on with a smile. But our other single role models were superheroes like The Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman, or glamorous crime solvers like Charlie’s Angels. (I have to admit; even the remake had its appeal - fashionable women kicking butt in stilettos.) But then we entered the 1980s where single women were nice girls looking for husbands at sea on the Love Boat. (Although all that got Julie McCoy was a drug habit and an E! True Hollywood Story feature.) Or, they were waiting patiently for love in a small town like Mindy, who eventually settled down and married Mork. (Apparently marrying aliens was o.k. in America; yet two decades later we’re still struggling with gay marriage?) Even Diane Chambers was a “nice” girl despite being a barmaid on Cheers! So thank goodness for Murphy Brown in the late 1980s: A recovering alcoholic, who was also a career-minded, imperfect, single parent.