Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Shout-Out for Single Moms


This week I've had a taste of playing at single motherhood for two days, and I can tell you it is not a job I'd want. All I've done is chase the clock.

I've been keeping my six-year-old niece overnight and seeing her to school in the mornings. Her dad picks her up from school, then I get her again after work. First day I had her, school was delayed 2 hours for black ice. I had to take her to work with me for half an hour until her mom got off the night shift. I'm glad I have a flexible job where it worked out okay, but many mothers would not have that. I'm also very lucky because my mother lives with me and helped with breakfasts and hair styling.

I just can't figure out how full-time working mothers get much of anything done between driving to and from school, homework (six-year-olds shouldn't have to have homework!), meals, essential daily home chores (like thaw out chickens' water), bath time, and more.

I've tried to encourage my niece to do some things for herself. Last night during bath I told her a seven-year-old should be able to wash herself. She replied, "I can't because I'm only six!" LOL at my oops.

The all important question for this romance editor is when would a single mom have time to even think about romance? Romance takes work, lots of work--especially when she is deciding whether or not to allow a new man into her children's home life. How do they do it all?

It is no wonder there are many stories of widows years ago who had to break up their homes and give children away to family and friends in order to survive. Our lifestyles are easy compared to even 50 years ago.

I'm sure I won't look at a working-single-mom fiction heroine the same way again. I can see where researching this type of individual would be very important for the author to make the character and her romance issues believable.

What research adventures have you had in trying to get your characterization right?

6 comments:

Cathy S. said...

Becky,

First, how DO you thaw the water for the chickens? We have outdoor animals and frozen water is a real problem this time of year. Any secrets?

For your observations on research, I definitely agree that it is important not to make assumptions. I don't want to give away what I'm working on, but let me say I chose to have a character run the type of business that I spent many many hours working in as my first job. I figured I could pretty much nail that occupation. And I thought I knew some crisis situations that could happen but wanted to double-check. I want to include conflict.

When I asked my former employer, who I still know, he came up with three crisis situations I had no inkling of and it's really helping my story.

I like to ask people what would be a really bad day at their office or job.


On the other hand, I'm a former insurance and investment person and I've read fiction where the characters in that work are portrayed as having very little stress. In fact, it's highly stressful. So that isn't realistic and is a dead giveaway someone doesn't know about that profession/industry.

Cathy

Patricia W. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patricia W. said...

"I just can't figure out how full-time working mothers get much of anything done between driving to and from school, homework (six-year-olds shouldn't have to have homework!), meals, essential daily home chores (like thaw out chickens' water), bath time, and more."

Neither can I, I'm a working mother in a dual-parent family. Single parents get my respect for hanging in and doing a job that can be tough under the best of circumstances.

Mary Connealy said...

Characterization...well, I've been trying to get my hands on some old doctor instruments. What did a doctor have in his bag in 1880. I found a museum that let me pick up the tools, but the date is a little vague and I'm not sure if these instruments are era appropriate, but oh my gosh!!! the stuff in that bag...the tools to deliver babies and BLEED people. Horrifying. Touching them, looking at them, very disturbing.
And then I go to write my book and, seriously, they BELIEVED in those bleeding tools back then. So would my doctor be 'enlightened' by today's standards and refuse to bleed a patient?
Or would my doctor embrace the latest methods and bleed people dry.

LOL

It's so hard not to write a book for back then without using today's sensibilities.

The Write Life said...

I love the new layout!

Paige

Becky said...

Cathy, it is hard to thaw the water. Sometimes I have to take the container in the house and soak it in a sink of hot water. Sometimes you can just pour hot water over the icy crust to thaw it. This morning I found the dog had unplugged his heated waterer. I broke the ice and plugged it back in.

Thanks for liking the new site look, Paige. We are still tweaking a bit.