By Sara Simon
Katie Couric, Sandra Bullock, Michelle Williams and Barbara Walters. These are all women who are raising their children as single moms and facing the difficulty of being the sole provider for a family while trying to have time for themselves. And with 29.3 percent of family households in Humboldt County being led by a single mom, the struggle is very much alive here.
Angelina Torres is a single mom in Humboldt County facing this struggle daily. Mom to three children ages 14, 12 and 5, she is constantly being pulled in multiple directions.
“There are some days I don’t brush my hair for days, and my clothes if we’re being honest here,” Torres said. “I need sleep. I wish I didn’t but I do and that takes time away from everything that needs to be done.”
Currently a full time student at College of the Redwoods, Torres has had to make the difficult decision of not working to be able to focus completely on her school work and her children’s schedules. She says that money is one of the biggest struggles she faces as the only parent in the household.
“Money is a huge struggle for me because I do not work and I am super focused on graduating, etc.,” Torres said. “I am not in the position to be able to work even part time because I literally have no free time on my hands.”
The daily struggle she faces is not enough time in a day to do everything that needs to be done. With two teenagers and a younger child, her daily life consists of her own school, her kid’s school schedules and shuttling them to all their extracurricular activities. On most nights, Torres can be found either doing her homework in her car during basketball practices or trying to squeeze in a little study time during halftimes of games. To make her schedule even tougher, the children’s school is a long commute from their house.
“My kids love their school even though it is far so it is very time consuming to drive so much everyday back and forth,” Torres said. “It is one of the many sacrifices I make. There is also only one of me so I have no choice but to do it all. I also want to make sure my kids do not go without just because I am busy so I try my hardest to make sure they get to do all their school activities that they want to.”
Torres first became a single mom 15 years ago (she counts the time being pregnant as being a mom.) For all three of her children’s lives she has been the only parent present. The children all have the same dad and he has been absent for most of the 15 years. The last time he saw the kids was over five years ago. She has family living nearby but they are also not present figures in the children’s lives.
“I have no help locally,” Torres said. “I have family here but they do not ever make an effort to see or even to call my kids so I figure we are better off. We literally live 5 minutes away from them and they do not come to see my kids so I know it would be pointless to ask for help. My family thinks I am wasting my time in school. They will go months before ever saying a word to us. It is hard because my kids miss their grandparents.”
Because of this lack of support, sick days for the kids are extremely tough on the family. When one of the children is sick and unable to attend school, it means that Torres also has to stay home and miss her classes. For a mom who’s main focus is finishing school and getting good grades, this is an extremely hard fact to accept.
“When my kids are sick I have to stay home from school with them,” Torres said. “It is rough because any days I miss it is like I miss out on so much. I need to be in class but also if my kids are sick they need their mother.”
This semester is Torres’s last one at College of the Redwoods before she transfers to Humboldt State in the fall so she is even more determined to get good grades and finish strong, thus making the lack of support even more difficult.
And the lack support doesn’t come solely from family. Rozzlyn Sovereign, a Humboldt State student, has chosen to write her thesis on single moms in school.
“I chose to do my thesis about single mother students because my sister is a single mother and I have first hand seen the detrimental impacts that our institutions and perceptions of their abilities have done to their opportunities and well being,” Sovereign said.
With the absence of support from both school and family, it is no wonder that Torres feels so overwhelmed.
Through all the tough times Torres has gone through as a single mom, she has kept the faith that her and her children will be successful in life.
“I see myself and my children very successful in our future because I will have made it and gotten my degree,” Torres said. “I know my children will be successful because from birth I have instilled in them that school is so important to break the poverty cycle.”
Torres has not ruled out marriage in the future. If she finds the right man who wants the same things in life as her, she would happily get married. But right now her future thoughts are all about her children.
“My biggest hope and dream for my kids is to give them a childhood that they do not have to recover from and the encouragement that they will need to be successful and go to college,” Torres said. “I plan on doing this by fully supporting them while they are in college and pursuing their own dreams. I just want them to be successful and to live comfortable and to be happy and healthy.”
With her youngest, Kyle Torres, saying “I love you Mommy” when asked about how he feels about his mom and the oldest stating “ My mom is annoying but I am glad I have her,” she seems to be well on her way of achieving these.