'She Was Always Enough': Emmy Rossum On Being Raised By A Single Mom

by Megan Zander
Image via Getty Images/Jason Kempin

Emmy Rossum gets honest about what it’s like to be raised by a single mom

Emmy Rossum has a message for all the single moms out there: you are enough. The Shameless actress recently penned a brutally honest Facebook post about what it’s like being raised by a single mom, and why all single parents should never doubt themselves.

“I had a single mom. I have a single mom. This isn’t a secret,” she writes. “Growing up in a school — and a world — filled with mostly two parent units was difficult for me. Father’s Day still is difficult for me. I’m not really sure how to celebrate. In the weeks leading up to it, I sense it coming like a wave approaching. Sometimes I try to ignore it — but the ads in the paper or online banner ads for ‘Macy’s Fathers Day Cologne Sale!’ and restaurants selling “Father’s Day Brunch Mimosas!” can make that pretty tricky.”

Families come in all shapes and forms. Some families have two moms, two dads, or parents that don’t define themselves by the gender binary. Sometimes there’s only one parent, as the result of a death or other circumstances. One in four children in the United States is raised by a single parent. Yet as a culture there’s still a hyper focus on celebrations that exclude those who don’t have a male/female two parent family. Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Daddy Daughter dances or Muffins with Mommy school events aren’t inclusive of everyone.

As Rossum points out, being left out can hurt. “Some of these traditions are really hard for those of us who don’t have,” she says. “Even today, the idea of no father/daughter dance at my wedding. No father to walk me down the aisle. All of these “traditions” are painful reminders that inadvertently re-injure us, causing a feeling of loss, jealously (of others who have what I didn’t), anger and confusion. Usually leading to us feel somehow inadequate.”

There’s an unofficial club for kids raised by single parents, and Rossum says having the support of others who can relate to her situation meant everything growing up. “But if there’s any upside to this widespread loss — it is knowing that there are more kids that are LIKE YOU. And LIKE ME,” she reflects. “See, when I was growing up, having 1 parent often felt very unique. There were only one or two other kids in my entire school who had a similar situation. Who knew what that was like. And mostly it was kids who had lost a parent to death, not just a parent who didn’t want to stick around. But still it tied us together, a friendship built on a strong, invisible bond that no one else could really understand.”

In spite of feeling left out by mainstream celebrations, Rossum stresses what single parents need to know most of all – that you’ve got this, and you alone are enough for your kids. In fact, Rossum says she sometimes takes her mother out on Father’s day to acknowledge the dual roles she filled during her childhood. “She really was both a mother and a father for me. I don’t like her to know that it still causes me pain — 30 years later — lest she feel somehow that she wasn’t enough. She was always enough. She is enough. She wasn’t perfect, no one is, but for me she was the best mom ever.”