For the first time in history, the United States capital has a single mother as its leader. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser adopted a baby, she announced, marking a milestone for the city in the process.
"It is with great joy and excitement that I share with you that late last year, I decided to begin the adoption journey," Bowser said in her announcement. "I was not sure how long it would take, and to my delight, it advanced much sooner than I expected. So today, I am proud to announce that I am a mom!" The statement continues:
As any new mother would feel — I am thrilled, nervous and looking forward to each and every stage. I will be taking the next week or so to enjoy these precious moments with my new baby. I am so grateful to be able to start my family in this wonderful way. Please keep us in your prayers, and I thank you in advance for allowing us this private time.
Bowser also reassured her constituents that she didn't expect her office's work to be disrupted by her leave. She said that she will stay in contact with her team during this brief time away.
It's a busy year for Bowser, who is also running for reelection and will face a primary (though a fairly uncompetitive one) in June. Some prospective parents might consider such an active time to be inconvenient for starting a family, but that's not how Bowser looks at it. As she told WUSA Channel 9 on Monday, she's recently been full of the conviction "that it was a great time in my life and I had so much to share with a baby."
Still, as she said in her statement, the adoption process moved more quickly than she had anticipated. She's had to cancel a campaign rally planned for this Saturday as well as some other events.
Bowser has declined to release any details about her new child. But The Washington Post reported that city officials confirmed the baby, who was born last week, is a little girl named Miranda Elizabeth Bowser (the same initials as her mom). At 45 years old, Bowser joins approximately 8.5 million single mothers who are currently raising children in the United States, according to a 2016 report from the U.S. Census Bureau. About 23 percent of American kids live only with their mom.
Bowser hopes that being a mother will make her a more effective mayor. "It certainly gives me another point of view," she told WUSA on Monday. "We have been very focused on families in this administration, making sure that we do everything for schools and child care and great play spaces and safe neighborhoods."
Although she's now D.C.'s first single mother mayor, Bowser joins a growing list of sitting female politicians who've entered parenthood. Tammy Duckworth became the first senator to give birth in office last month.
Andrea Steele, president of Emerge America — a group that recruits and trains female Democratic candidates — spoke optimistically to The Washington Post of the example set by Bowser and other politicians who've recently become mothers. She thinks that these women could inspire others who may have been considering running for office but have considered their parental aspirations to be an obstacle.
"When you see these women in positions of power do that," she said, "it really bodes well for other women who can look and say, 'I can do that. If I have children, I can run for office. And even if I don't, I can still have kids when I reach a certain position.'"