There are many challenges when it comes to parenting because there is no one right way to parent a child or children. What works for one parent may not for another; it all depends on the parent and the child as what works for one child may not necessarily work for another, even when it’s the same parent involved!
Single parenting is hard but single mothering I think is even more difficult. I hear men say that they have things hard but to me when I look at single moms I see stark differences. For one thing a lot of single mothers have no external support systems whilst single fathers may have the support of some female in their immediate or extended family to rely on for some aspects of child care for e.g. grooming of their daughter’s hair.
In my experience I have found the following to be the greatest challenges:
Maintaining financial stability
Having little to no support from the father’s of my children I endured three repossessions as I was severely indebted. “Where did my money go?” was the question I continually asked myself. Looking back I know that I rarely spent a bad cent and oftentimes I had to force myself to treat myself and my children because my cry was always “I don’t have enough money to buy that”. I was always saddened by the fact that although I was gainfully employed I could not adequately support my children, at least not the way I desired to. I remember my first loan was taken to pay my attorney to fight for custody of my child. Sometimes in retrospect I think I should have simply let my ex husband have his way in that regard; nevertheless she turned out great! Though we have never vacationed like others that we consider to be normal we have survived everything that life has thrown at us.
Home/work life balance
Single mothers have it really difficult where this is concerned because employers tend to be more concerned with their bottom line than with the employee’s life outside of the office. Single mothers have to find that balance on their own and in the majority of cases they rarely ever find that balance. They almost always give half of what they have to their jobs and the other half to their children which begs the question “What do they give to themselves?” The answer usually is little to nothing because they are usually trapped in the cycle of guilt as if doing something for themselves is such a cruel and evil thing! I had one job which paid a fairly substantial salary which did not allow me a lot of time to spend with my children but I know of many mothers who hold down two and three jobs just to maintain the roofs over their heads! After fifteen years of my job I grew tired of the guilt so I quit and decided to pursue other flexible avenues which would allow me to spend more time with my children and make enough money to care for them. I don’t think that every single mother is as fortunate.
Babysitting / Childcare
The majority of single mothers are working mothers and so childcare is quite a necessity. It becomes challenging to find a good caregiver when you have to penny pinch. Daycare and babysitters can be quite expensive and take up a significant portion of one’s salary. Apart from the regular costs associated with rearing a child alone this cost can literally break you as a working mother because one always has to be cognizant of the fact that most daycares carry an overtime charge and if one works at a job (like many single mothers do) that requires extended hours to be worked, that overtime literally pays the overtime of the daycare provider and one never really gets to enjoy the benefit of one’s overtime and neither does one’s child/children. What do we do then? We have to work and that we shall!
I am the product of a single mother and when I got married I never thought that I would repeat that cycle but I did and am. Without my father I was lost, angry, confused and seriously felt cheated out of the good things in life. I have little to no childhood memories of him and though my children know their fathers respectively, they still have to deal with the fact that they play no significant role in their lives. I also have to deal with that fact as it bothers me as well because I hurt for them believing that they could and should do better.
The absence of a father in a home of course leaves indelible marks on the family and for the mother it leaves all the burden on her. She must become the avid protector of her home and children; she must attend every extra curricular activity; she must be responsible for the childrens’ emotional and spiritual needs ensuring that they are well taken care of; she must become the sole provider to her home and provide everything that the mind can conceive for each of her children and this is simply scratching the surface. The fact is she would do all that is required as a woman but the absence of the father only magnifies what and how much she does for her children.
I have outlined only a few things that have possessed my mind over the last eighteen years and I have full and complete respect for every single single parent but more so every single mother. I salute them and I wish that I could do more for them and I soon shall. I have come to the conclusion that being a single mother is not a curse nor am I burdened in any way with my children but I have become a better person because the gains far outweigh the losses. I am a better person and though I make and have made mistakes along the way I have learned and I have become so fearless and I try to promote that with my girls every day. I have discovered things in myself that I never knew I possessed like the spirit of resilience and I have totally struck the phrase “I can’t” from my vocabulary. I have a drive and determination to succeed that only my children could have given to me. I’ve learned to stand on my own two feet and I have learned to bounce back.
As a single mother I may never be enough to my employer nor may I ever be the coolest amongst my friends but to my children I am enough and more! As a single mother you are too. You deserve every accolade there is to have! I salute you and I hope that you can find the same things in yourself to go on and fight another day.
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