CITY GIRL: Single mothers, too, deserve love and respect
It came from one of my closest friends. She had just rushed her four-year-old son to hospital. He had a serious fever and she was worried sick about him.
I called her immediately. The groggy voice on the other end of the line was that of a frustrated and scared single mother who was alone at the hospital with a sick child.
They left the hospital at 5 am. She slept for two hours and woke up to feed the child. She didn’t come to work that day; she had to watch over her boy. The rest of the week, my friend — normally a noisy and jovial girl — had a cloud of worry on her face.
And today, I would like to celebrate single mothers. I may not have been raised by one, but the burden of single motherhood is not lost on me.
One of my best friends is a single mother, she has three children. From what I see her go through, my admiration and respect for her goes higher each day.
The single mother is the parent who stayed. When things went awry and the man walked away, the single mother stood by her children, and took the world head on.
To me, a single mother is the definition of a wonder woman. Her salary is not her own. It belongs to her children. She is the man and the woman of the house.
She pays the bills single-handedly, draws up the family budget and she must ensure the salary lasts until the next pay.
A single mother must always have cash stashed somewhere in her house in case of midnight emergencies, when the toddler falls sick.
She does not have the luxury of extra money like her married friends or the single girls she hangs out with. Every cent that lands into her purse is carefully accounted for and really stretched because she has no back-up plan in the form of a husband or a boyfriend.
You cannot compare a single mother to her married counterparts whose husbands accompany them to the paediatric wing and take turns to watch over the sick child. The single mother is on her own. She has to watch over her son all by herself and still make it to work the next day.
She has nobody to take turns with as she catches up on sleep. She is a powerhouse.
And when the children begin to ask questions like “Where is daddy?” the single mom has to come up with solid answers. For the sake of peace and to protect her children, many of them will lie for the dead-beat dad.
Yet, society ostracizes the single mother and ‘slut-shames’ her. Why is she a single mother? They ask. Can’t she keep a man? And how dare she have children out of wedlock? Didn’t she know what she was getting herself into? How can a woman have children by two different men?
We don’t realise that she left an abusive marriage to protect her children from a violent childhood. We don’t realise that she was the parent who stayed when the man walked out on her and even refused to acknowledge the children.
We don’t even realise that she is the widow who was left behind when her husband fell victim to an armed robbery.
We don’t celebrate these single mothers enough because their strength and tenacity intimidates us and we are left wondering; how can a woman possess so much strength?
And when she decides to get herself out there and meet a new man, we tell her she is too old to find love. We say she is damaged goods. That she has too much baggage and she should be happy being alone.
Some even say she does not deserve dowry!
We give her the side-eye, as if single mothers do not deserve love. We call her a loose woman for having children by one man and going out with another. Yet we celebrate men with children by more than one woman.
I take my hat off to the man who will defy societal rules and marry a single mother of two. But for those men who have sworn off single mothers by virtue of their status, there is a special place in hell for you.
We are surrounded by single mothers. As I pen off, I just remembered another one whose son is my friend.
We call her ‘madam chief’. I am not sure if she is retired or what she has been up to lately, but I have never forgotten how I admire her strength and resolve.
She is the definition of a brave woman who was not afraid to face the world by herself as she raised two boys by herself. She is one of the toughest women I have met.
I grew up admiring her from a distance, not because she was a chief, but because she epitomized what it takes to be a wonder woman.
Cheers to single mothers!