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There is no shame in single motherhood: Celebrating strength and resilience

Every year on the second Sunday in the month of May, mother’s are celebrated. Happy Mother’s Day to all mums reading this!

Across the world, many mothers often wake up to breakfast in bed, gifts from a significant other and their children, warm wishes from loved one and even lavish treatment to shopping and spa days in some instances.

For other mums, the day is as simple as being urged to put their feet up from any housework, catch up on some entertainment or hang out with friends without having to worry about the family for the day.

For single mothers, the aforementioned may not be the case. Single mothers often have no time to put their feet up and sometimes, no considerate co-parent or partner to celebrate them. Instead, many single mothers across the world often face some sort of loneliness and stigmatization because she is not part of the normalized nuclear family.

And so, today, we tell all mothers who found themselves raising their children singlehandedly, you are more than your relationship status. You are resilient for being the nurturer and bread winner at the same time. You are the embodiment of strength for enduring an ignorant society that judges you for not having a man in your life to be the head of the family.

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And to the ignorant people who enjoy stigmatizing single mothers, we say the following to you:

No woman ever dreams of raising her children without their father present. Before you judged, mocked and ridiculed her, did you first wonder why she is a single mother? Maybe her partner died. Maybe her partner cheated on her and she decided she deserves better. Maybe her partner decided he did not want to be a father. Maybe, God forbid, she was assaulted and ended up pregnant.

Through all this, she is the parent that chose to stay and walk the journey – alone. As a man, if your partner bailed on you and the children, how long would you last before you brought in another woman to take care of the kids because “men are providers, not care givers?”

Secondly, to the detractors, what moral position do you stand on to judge single mothers? Are they not human deserving of love and relationships like everyone else before you begin throwing around the stereotype that “a man who dates a single mother is entering the game at one, nil”?

Why do you hold such negative views of single mothers? Did you have a bad experience with one and are out to tarnish the image of every other single mother out there? Are you that hurt that you’d rather bleed on strangers than tending your wounds? Why don’t you be human for a change and think about how you would react to such sentiments if it touched on your mothers, sisters, aunts and even daughters?

Thirdly, single mothers have gone on to raise smart, healthy and happy children with or without the co-input of a man. Celebrated people like Barack Obama, Jay-Z, Angelina Jolie, Kanye West and a handful of Kenyan celebs have been raised by single mothers.

What excuse do you hold that single mothers cannot help their children achieve great success? Will you continue holding on to that stereotype that single mothers are a danger to sons because they aren’t exposed to masculine behavior in the house? I hope these examples shift your perspective.

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Fourth, stigmatizing single mothers because of their relationship status reflects more on you as a toxic person as opposed to a single mother who is out to make ends meet and raise her children in peace. Your jibe may trend for a day, but your reputation takes a hit because your social circles will now know the kind of person you are. There are boundaries to how far you can go in interacting with people.

We must stop being a sick society that looks down on women for lack of having a man in her life and her children’s. We must become a supportive community that comes to the aid of single mothers who are struggling, single mothers who need male mentors for their sons (I’m talking to you fathers, brothers, uncles and friends) and single mothers who just need a break from all the insults and stigma. You must treat them as you’d want a female relative of yours who finds herself singlehandedly raising children to be treated.

If you are a single mother… well done. You are amazing and we celebrate you – in your strength and in your weaknesses. There is no shame in being a single mother. Circumstances happened and you are the parent who rose to the occasion. You persisted and are beating the odds.

If you find that Mother’s Day is particularly difficult for you, I encourage you to find a supportive community of friends, family or even strangers who will eventually become family; and together, it will be a bit easier to breathe. It is okay to rant, to grieve those nuclear family life plans that never manifested and it is okay to feel everything under the sun.

I leave you with Barbara Kingsolver’s quote, “Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.”

Happy Mother’s Day love!

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