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This Mother's Day, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is asking for more support for all single mothers.
Sandberg became a single mother herself just before Mother's Day last year, when her husband, Dave Goldberg, died of a sudden traumatic brain injury at the age of 47. And in a Facebook post Friday, Sandberg opened up about what it's meant to take on the role of both mother and father to her two children, and the perspective she's gained on single moms around the world.
"Being a mother is the most important — and most humbling — job I’ve ever had," Sandberg wrote. "As we rightly celebrate motherhood, we should give special thanks to the women who are raising children on their own. And let’s vow to do more to support them, every day."
Sandberg said that it's a perspective she didn't fully understand before losing her husband.
"Dave’s absence is part of our daily lives and, for me, has redefined what it is to be a mother," she continued. "Before Dave died, I had a partner who shared both the joys and responsibilities of parenting. Then, without any warning, I was on my own."
While she feels fortunate to not have the financial burdens that so many single mothers do, she's aware that they exist.
"I will never experience and understand all of the challenges most single moms face, but I understand a lot more than I did a year ago," Sandberg wrote.
She also shared some striking statistics about single mothers in the U.S., highlighting that about one in five widows in the country live in poverty by the time they're 65 years old. "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," she wrote. "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."
She added that 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. A missed paycheck or an illness can present impossible choices."
She even admitted that she didn't dedicate enough time in her book "Lean In" to highlight the difficulties women face when they either don't have a partner or have one that is not supportive.
"We need to understand that it takes a community to raise children and that so many of our single mothers need and deserve a much more supportive community than we give them," she said. "We owe it to them and to their children to do better. We must do more as leaders, as coworkers, as neighbors, and as friends."