The things we give up as single mothers

July 25, 2019

By Rachel O. S. Edmund

Parents give up and sacrifice a lot for their children because most want their children to be happy and comfortable. As single mothers without support we give up so much more because there is very little support.

Over the years I have considered many things in terms of where and who I wanted to be in my life but there were many obstacles that stood in the way of that. In retrospect, I am not sure that I would make the same decisions relative to the things that I gave up if given a choice because I am so much wiser.

The following is a list that I have compiled to shed some light into some of the things that we give up so that our children can have the most comfortable lives that we could afford.

  1. Financial freedom and independence.

When there is little family support many of us resort to financial institutions (once we can qualify) to help keep our heads above water. This keeps us in a cycle of debt from which many of us never recover as savings is not really much of an option.

Our dependence on whatever social services apply to us is real as we do our best not to become street bums.

2. Pride

There is little to no pride when it comes to providing for our children. We have little shame in asking for help (though sometimes it is very difficult to ask people for help because of their judgmental attitudes towards us).

3. Social life and convenience

When we have young children especially toddlers, there are very few people we will trust with our children and their safety. If we have girls, we are especially protective of them so that dating is rarely something that is considered or may be shortlived.

4. Job opportunities

Many times because of the lack of education or the low level of education we are unable to climb the corporate ladder as we would want to. Sometimes due to the fact that we have had to take so much time off from work our employee’s records work against us when it comes to promotion. Many times opportunities may arise and we would have to let them pass us by because actually working in whatever position would require too much time away from the children (who basically only have one parent) or it would mean the cost of childcare would go up exponentially. In some cases, we leave jobs altogether because of the imbalance between the work life and the home life.

5. Higher education

Depending on where one is on the educational spectrum, higher education is somewhat unattainable because of the fact that it costs to educate oneself so it is either never undertaken or it is done later on in life, possibly when the children finish their schooling.

6. Simple pleasures

Vacations, dates, relaxation time, cable, internet, hairdos, makeovers, birthdays, Christmases, new clothes, special occasions…. Whatever it may be, you name it, we’ve given it up simply because we had a more pressing thing to do in terms of bills to pay.

7. Necessities

In order to remain afloat many times many single mothers give up basic necessities to ensure that their children have a meal and a home. We take no pleasure in them but we know that it is the only way to survive and make it through the year. Simple things like snacks, meat, special treats become a thing of the past in order to make it to Christmas.

8. Special interests /hobbies

Many times our hobbies and interests which take time, effort and money to pursue become more burdensome to us and are superseded by those of our children. We ensure that the child’s piano lessons are paid for, his/her extra math lessons are paid, his or her membership dues are paid so that they could compete in the next tournament. Our focus on the bills that are relative to them don’t become overdue or unpaid because there is nothing more disappointing than a committed team member being unable to play in the regional finals because of the inability of the mother to pay for the things that their child would need to be there. Our special interests and hobbies become relegated to finding ways to raise funds for such activities.

9. Health

Many single mothers run themselves ragged because they simply cannot afford to take care of themselves. They would go to work ill, see about their children whilst having the worst bout of the flu and still find themselves shuttling their children between their various activities. Sometimes they don’t have the medical insurance to pay for medical treatment and public health facilities may cause her to lose an entire day’s pay because of how much time she spends there waiting to receive treatment.  

10. Sanity

Caring for a child or children alone is mentally exhausting and many a single mother have become overwhelmed by the task itself. That coupled with mounting debt and the lack of family support are enough to send her over the edge. The last thing on a single mother’s mind is herself. She does not engage in enough self-care and so runs the great risk of breaking down mentally. It is important that she make use of any EAP programs that her company offers if they do and or utilize the public health facilities or a local pastor so that at least a small bit of her frustrations can be ventilated and articulated and solutions to the causes can be found.

Though this is not an exhaustive list, it is enough I hope to make you think. Whenever you see a single mother that may be struggling or may seem to have it altogether I would like for you to say a special prayer for her because she could definitely use at least one person on her side. Send her a post card or simply ask her how she is doing. It will go a long way and will be appreciated by her.

If you are the child of a single mother, appreciate your mother all the more because you don’t know just how much she has given up to see you succeed.

Published by Global Network for the Advancement of Single Mothers

formerly Trinidad and Tobago Single Mothers For Restoration and Transformation

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