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Our Heroes: A Celebration of Single Moms in Frederick County

While many of us look up to athletes, movie stars and singers, we should also be placing single moms as heroes alongside those individuals. They carry the entire mental and physical load of parenting, which can be daunting and difficult but also rewarding.

Frederick’s Child reached out to two community leaders who are also single mothers in Frederick County — County Executive Jessica Fitzwater and Dianna Goglio, OneAmerica’s senior retirement plan manager in New Market — to discuss their journeys with motherhood, including their joys and their struggles.

County Executive Jessica Fitzwater 

 What do you love about being a parent?

 Being a parent is my number one priority. It is the hardest job in the world—but also the most rewarding. I love watching my children, Jonah (7) and Jane (4), use their creativity and curiosity, explore and experience new things, cultivate relationships and develop their own interests and personalities. I’m no different than any other mom. My wish for my children is for them to be healthy and happy, to feel free to be their full selves. Seeing my children joyful is the best gift I could receive on Mother’s Day.

What has been challenging about being a single mom? 

Jessica Fitzwater official portrait | Photo courtesy of Jessica Fitzwater

Every mother has challenges, regardless of their family dynamics. Being a single mom has its difficult moments. We lost my husband, Gerald, suddenly four years ago, and we miss him every day. Each year, we add more traditions to remind us that love is forever.

Single moms can be stretched thin caring for our children, fulfilling work commitments and attending to other family members. It’s a lot for one person, so having a support system is incredibly important. I am so lucky to have a giant support system, and my kids know they have many, many people in their lives who love them.

I am always continuing to learn that it’s OK to ask for help. Look to family members and friends to support you, even if it’s just for an hour or two to recharge. Moms need to take care of themselves, too. Single moms worry if their children’s needs are being met—if they’re enough. Trust me, we are. We’re here for our children every day and in every way, and we ARE enough.

What’s been surprising or rewarding about the journey? 

 Honestly, my own resilience and that of my children continues to amaze me. I know that we are where we are, thriving today, because of so many factors. The love and stability my late husband and I built, the support we get every day from family and friends, our care for one another, our perseverance. This is our life, and we are determined to make the best of it. My kids give me hope every single day. Being their mom is the joy of my life, and even though sometimes I feel like we are just getting by on trial and error, I wouldn’t trade all of those steps (and missteps!) for anything.

What kind of traditions do you have with your kids, and are you doing anything special together for Mother’s Day?

We always make time to read books together before bedtime, and I have a special song I sing to each of them before they go to sleep. On Saturday mornings, we cuddle in bed and watch cartoons together. (Let’s be honest—sometimes I fall back asleep!) We love being with family on special holidays, and we make time to FaceTime with our relatives that we don’t see as often.

Given how tumultuous the last several years have been—the loss of my husband, COVID-19, campaigning for County Executive—our Mother’s Day traditions are still a work in progress.

What do you think people should know about being a single mom? (For example, misconceptions or things not talked about that moms wish people knew)   

Jessica Fitzwater and children | Provided Photo


Let’s be real—every family is different. Mainstream media is getting better at portraying many different kinds of families, but there is still an ideal among some that there is only one way for a family to be. I think there is a tendency for people to feel pity for single parents. It’s easy to judge a book by its cover, but we have no idea of someone’s story unless we take the time to ask.

I also think many single moms may not know how to ask for help. You often feel like you have to do it all, and you are somehow a failure if you can’t. If you are friends with a single mom, offer to help her out if you can. Take turns watching each other’s children while giving each other a break. Make playdates or go for a walk at one of the county’s wonderful parks. Go for story time at your local library. Lend an ear and listen. Sometimes, just the offer of help can make her day. Let her know that she’s not alone.

Senior retirement plan manager Dianna Goglio 

 What do you love about being a parent? 

My real answer is: I love nothing about being a parent. It is hard. There is no manual. There is absolutely nothing that tells you anything about this wonderful opportunity of raising a human that can help prepare you. I’ve mostly had just to live it and learn as I go. Along the way though, there is nothing as satisfying as seeing the little human that came out of you grow into a person. It makes every good and bad time worth it, every time!

What has been challenging about being a single mom? 

Dianna Goglio with her daughter | Provided Photo

 I’m in what I consider a unique situation where not only am I a single mom but I’m also an only parent. My partner and child’s father has been deceased since 2016. With that said, having to be both parents has been challenging for me. It’s tough to have to be bad cop and then turn around and try to play good cop without confusing my daughter! It’s also been hard to figure out how to talk through her dad’s death, and at what age certain things are appropriate to discuss.

Also, dating, is a challenge with a capital C! I don’t like it. It’s hard. I’ve recently decided it’s just not for me right now. Trying to find time, someone to watch my child and…money to do it all has not been worth it. My time is valuable, and I’ve realized putting my efforts into experiencing things with my daughter is better time spent.

What’s been surprising or rewarding about the journey? 

My daughter was a surprise so, there’s that! She’s 11. It’s very rewarding to see her grow up and become a little lady. My “mini me,” as some people would say. She’s my greatest accomplishment.

What kind of traditions do you have with your kids, and are you doing anything special together for Mother’s Day?

Traditions: We collect Christmas tree ornaments and have a tree just for those ornaments. We usually get them on vacation or if we go somewhere cool like a museum or art show. We always go to the beach on Black Friday and spend the weekend there. We have a secret handshake. We always go to our favorite snowball stand on its opening day, April 1. It’s back in Baltimore where we are from and still go now, two years after moving. It’s an hour away!

For Mother’s Day, we don’t have anything planned as of now. I’m hoping she’ll at least just walk the dogs that day!


Christmastime for the Goglio family | Provided Photo


What do you think people should know about being a single mom? (For example, misconceptions or things not talked about that moms wish people knew)

Saying to a single a parent, “I just don’t know how you do it all,” is the most annoying thing I’ve ever heard. What does that even mean, how do I do it? I get up every freaking day and do what I have to do to survive and keep my little human alive! I just do it! I do it as everyone else does! I having a feeling that most people might think it’s a compliment in some way, but I don’t appreciate it at all!