Thirteen hours. All in, Senator Wendy Davis stood before the Texas Senate, upright and unsupported by a podium or a person, for thirteen hours. Senator Davis filibustered against an anti-abortion bill on the floor for thirteen hours. She spoke the truth of women’s reproductive rights and those of the men who love them. Davis argued, defended, and railed against the undercover moves of politicians done in the dark of night. Thirteen hours? You can fly to from NYC to London and back in the same number of hours.
When I learned more of the details of Davis’s life, of how she “began working after school at the age of 14 to help support her single mother and three siblings that by the age of 19 she herself was a single mother working two jobs to make ends meet, that Senator Davis was a mom who began her academic career at a community college and worked her way to Harvard Law School, graduating with honors—her latest hat trick did not come as a surprise.
As a Single Baby Mama Davis is no stranger to roadblocks and rejections. As a S.B.M. I know Senator Davis persevered because for one reason, for her there was no other way.
I get Davis’s gumption. As a S.B.M. who just completed her graduate work in May 2013, I understand. While waiting for the finalization of my adoption I began graduate work, as a distraction. Yet, the first two semesters were far different from the last two. I quickly learned researching, writing and crafting an Extended Critical Essay, getting my thesis approved, along with managing new motherhood and a full-time job was a tightrope walk best kept to oneself.
“You don’t plan to finish your MFA now that Julia’s home?” A friend asked a month into my new motherhood.
“Sure, I only have two more semesters to go.”
“I wish you’d reconsider. Kid’s need their mothers.”
No words came from my mouth but plenty blasted my brain. “ I will finish this MFA, and nothing is going to stop me,” I thought. And in that moment I decided to keep my grad school work as secret as my adoption had been to most friends.
In time those who knew of my studies, forgot. I deleted my graduate work from the info shared with new friends. I limited my MFA work woes to my grad school peers, three close friends, and my Mom.
As the single mom of two Wendy Davis has walked the floor with her colicky kids, picked up school supplies in a driving rain, frightened away monsters from under small beds in the dead of night. Of course, at one time or anther, all moms perform these duties. Yet the difference is this: when you’re single mom there’s no partner to negotiate with for more time under the covers, for more time at your computer, for a pass because you did it last time. You slip from bed and chase the monsters away and soothe your child’s fears. You lace on your red sneakers and armor up and take the Texas Senate floor and stand for what you believe in, for what the people elected you to do, for thirteen hours. Just so you can look yourself in the mirror and know you have done the absolute best you can do with your 24-hours on the planet. Then get up and do it all over again.