May 8, 2016
Mother's Day: Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, Writes Plea To 'Celebrate' Single Mothers

"On Mother's Day, we celebrate all moms. This year I am thinking especially of the many mothers across the country and the world who are raising children on their own," wrote Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on Friday.

And with Mother's Day today, a lot of people have been reflecting on her words.

According to a report from the Telegraph, Sandberg's post, coming to over 1,000 words, is aimed at highlighting not only some of the struggles that single mothers face every day, but some of the most prevalent problems that single mothers are up against in America -- notably poverty. A condition which, she says, afflicts 40 percent of single-mother-led families, compared to 22 percent of single-father families and 8 percent of married couples. Even worse, she says, is that the number goes up another 6 percent when the family is led by a black or Hispanic mother and 35 percent of single-mother-led families experience food insecurity in spite of many single mothers holding multiple jobs.

"Forty percent of families headed by a single mother in the United States live in poverty, compared to just 22 percent of families headed by a single father and 8 percent of married couple families. Single parent families headed by women of color face even more barriers: 46 percent of families headed by black and Hispanic single mothers live in poverty.

"For many single parents, there is no safety net. Thirty-five percent of single mothers experience food insecurity, and many single mothers have more than one job—and that does not count the job of taking care of their children."

Sandberg recently spoke at the MAKERS Conference for women in leadership.
Sandberg recently spoke at the MAKERS Conference for women in leadership. [Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for AOL]

Sandberg also makes a significant effort throughout her post to remind us that very few women choose to be single mothers and that many are put in that situation by tragedy. Single motherhood is still something held in contempt by a majority of people. As an article from Everyday Feminism notes, bias against single moms is still very prevalent.

Sandberg also admits that many critics of her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead were right -- to an extent.

"In Lean In, I emphasized how critical a loving and supportive partner can be for women both professionally and personally—and how important Dave was to my career and to our children's development. I still believe this. Some people felt that I did not spend enough time writing about the difficulties women face when they have an unsupportive partner or no partner at all. They were right."

Sheryl's husband, Dave Goldberg, of SurveyMonkey fame, died suddenly one year ago as of May 2. Lean In was published in March 2013.

"Before," Sandberg says, "I did not quite get it."

"I did not really get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home. I did not understand how often I would look at my son's or daughter's crying face and not know how to stop the tears."

Her eyes had been opened, she said, since Dave passed away of heart-related issues, even as she admits that, as a wealthy, successful woman, she will never truly understand the struggles that most single mothers face. Even so, she says, the world is constantly reminding her and her children of what she lost.

Sheryl and her husband David, less than a year before his death.
Sheryl and her husband, David, less than a year before his death. [Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]

Sandberg says that "our widespread cultural assumption that every child lives with a two-parent heterosexual married couple is out of date" and has been for years. Around 30 percent of families are headed by a single parent, and in 84 percent of those families, it's the mother.

"And yet our attitudes and our policies do not reflect this shift," she wrote.

The post closes with a heartfelt note that "being a mother is the most important—and most humbling—job I've ever had," and asks that readers give special thanks to single mothers, not only today, on Mother's Day, but every day.

[Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for AOL]