If you have any snobby or condescending notions about single parents, J.K. Rowling respectfully requests you give your head a shake.
The world-famous Harry Potter author has not forgotten her years of struggling as a single parent. She has likewise not forgotten the stigma attached to being known as a 'single mother'.
Now she's one of the UK's most influential women, she's a billionaire from her Harry Potter series and she's the person who single-handedly prompted an entire generation of kids to love reading, but Rowling says that her years as a single mum are the part of her life of which she's most proud.
The best-selling author has three children: Jessica, 20, David, 10 and Mackenzie, eight. Rowling (who puts her money where her mouth is, and is president of the single-parent charity, Gingerbread) wrote on the organization's website recently about her days raising her oldest alone after her marriage to Jessica's father ended.
Educated and hitherto fully employed, the future author was now a full-time solo parent who worked a few hours when she could at an Edinburgh church.
According to the Daily Mail, Rowling said, "It was slowly dawning on me that I was now defined, in the eyes of many, by something I had never chosen. I was a Single Parent, and a Single Parent On Benefits to boot. Patronage was almost as hard to bear as stigmatization."
Rowling goes on to write about being keenly aware that as a single mother she was regarded as a second-class citizen. Assumptions were made, "About your morals, your motives for bringing your child into the world or your fitness to raise that child, that cut to the core of who you are."
Ironically, Rowling says that at the time it was a "much bigger delusion" as a single mom to think she'd get back into paid work again than it was to think the kids' book she was working on might one day get published. It's interesting she had the courage and the energy to continue writing in the face of that sort of discouragement.
Rowling says the vaguely condescending 'single mother' description followed her even as she became successful. She writes, "It followed me to financial stability and fame just as it had clung to me in poverty and obscurity. I became Single Parent Writes Award-Winning Children's Book/Earns Record American Advance/Gets Film Deal."
In fact, reports the author, one of the first reporters who interviewed her asked, "Whether I hadn't felt I ought to be out looking for a job rather than 'sitting at home writing a novel.' By some miracle I resisted the almost overwhelming temptation to punch him."
Rowling says she decided to channel her frustration into the Gingerbread organization.
Over and above all her later success, Rowling reports that her oldest daughter now says her childhood memories are happy. Jessica has told her mother of her childhood, "I never knew we were poor. I just remember being happy."