Dear Rick Santorum,

I’ve seen the headlines you have been making lately, especially the ones about single parents, and I would like to invite you over for dinner.

I think you need to see what a real single parent looks like.

Your comments about women in general have concerned me, but it is your remarks specifically about solo mothers and their children that I find most disturbing.

Single mothers, you said, are ruining the fabric of our country by “breeding more criminals.”

Come to dinner, won’t you Mr. Santorum? Come meet my little “criminal.”

Her name is Angie, by the way, and you’re welcome to sit with us at the kitchen table while I help her with her homework. She’s a pretty good reader — you know, for a delinquent.

While she’s practicing math, I could show you the certificate she got when she read 100 books in the library’s summer-reading program. Only 4 years old at the time, she was the top reader in her age group.

Or, I could show you the certificate she got when she was student of the month this year in kindergarten. The honor came with a coupon for free dinner at a local restaurant, where Angie ordered chicken nuggets with a smile on her face because she knew she had earned them herself.

I could even show you the balance on her college fund. Yes, I want her to get into a good university one day. Yes, I know that you think college is for snobs.

I realize you’re a busy man these days, Mr. Santorum. Heck, I’m busy too. I’ve been volunteering in Angie’s classroom and studying for my master’s degree — you know, all those things that society-sucking single moms like me tend to do.

I’ve also been writing about single-parenting issues for more than two years now, and in that time, I’ve met dozens of upstanding solo mothers and fathers with wonderful children.

Perhaps I should introduce you to a few. There’s Jayne, who is raising a teenage daughter and a son with Down syndrome. There’s Frank, who never misses one of his son’s hockey games. And there’s Lisa, who is the best mother I know, single or married.

You think you know what life is like for us. I think you watch too much Maury Povich.

Here’s the truth:

Eighty percent of single mothers and 90 percent of single fathers have jobs. While many of them are living off low incomes, most receive no public assistance. More than half are raising only one child.

Those are facts. Go ahead and Google them, Mr. Santorum.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand it’s election season and you need to find a scapegoat for society’s ills. Single parents make easy targets, after all. We’re too busy to fight back. We don’t have a political action committee or a team of lobbyists. Instead, we have jobs and night classes, parent-teacher conferences and soccer practices.

About a year ago, it was conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly who was calling us bad role models — “destructive to society,” he said. Then it was Jim DeMint, a Republican senator from South Carolina, who tried to prevent unwed mothers (and homosexuals) from becoming teachers. Now we have Glenn Grothman, a senator from Wisconsin who wants to legally define single parenthood as a risk factor for child abuse.

Perhaps, Mr. Santorum, on your way over to our house for dinner you could swing by and pick up your buddies. Maybe they need to meet a real single mom, too.

If the fabric of our country is falling apart, as you say, it isn’t because of single mothers or fathers. It’s because of people who spread hate and intolerance, who make sanctimonious judgments and false assertions like the ones you seem to make every day.

It’s not people like me ruining society, Mr. Santorum. It’s people like you.

You know, Angie and I make fresh pesto every Monday after school. It’s one of our favorite things to do. Next week, we’ll make an extra batch, just in case you fellas decide to stop by.

I promise it’ll taste better than that foot you always seem to be putting in your mouth.

Wendy Fontaine’s “Party of Two” column appears every other week. Her e-mail address is: [email protected] or follow Party of Two on Facebook.

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