In 1980, my mother tells me, she made the decision to divorce my father. She believed her decision was the right one for her and her girls.
Her mother, Mamoo, was supportive. She offered to clear her tenant out of her duplex in Columbus, Ga., so we could move in, but my mother declined.
We would be fine, she said, and we were. My mom, sister and I moved from outside Washington, D.C., to Carrollton, Ga. Mom got a job at a small business; my sister and I went on to graduate from high school and then college. I continued my education in graduate school; my sister became an entrepreneur -- her form of graduate education.
Last year in the United States, single mothers led 9.9 million families with children under the age of 18. As was the case with my mother, some of those women are educated and can count on supportive family and friends and an involved father of their children.
But those without resources, family or education might find themselves in dire situations. When this happens, their choices -- as Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, rabbi emeritus at The Temple (Reform) in Atlanta, puts it -- might consist of a car or a kudzu cave.
Fifteen years ago, Sugarman helped found an interfaith project called Genesis -- A New Life. Since then, the nonprofit homeless shelter for newborn babies and their families has transformed the lives of over 2,900 people.
My husband and I had our second child on July 29, 2001. His birth, which started out normally, ended with an emergency C-section due to a prolapsed cord. Chances are if I had not been in the hospital, our son likely would have died. Almost losing a child reinforces one's appreciation for the miracle of birth and life.
Our first child had been a great sleeper as an infant, but not this one. He barely slept for the first five months.
I remember rocking him in the middle of the night for hours at a time. Both of us were exhausted -- he would cry, I would cry. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, I could hear planes from Dobbins Air Reserve Base near our home in Atlanta over our heads while I rocked and worried. What would become of this world, his world? Eventually, he would go back to sleep, and I would pray for his safety.