Single- parent: When a mother becomes both Mom and Dad
As the product of a single parent family, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the life of a single parent is not easy. In hindsight, I will say that the most challenging task of a single mother, is having to present her child or children with the idea that everything is under control, despite her personal tribulations and discomfort that she may face on a daily basis.
I consider that despite her hardships, my mother has done an excellent job; and I make this statement not by whim, but by the very fact that I often find myself celebrating the successes of my mother, rather than wishing that I had a father present during my childhood years.
For me, mother’s day was a day of only partial celebration, as my mother assumed the role as both mother and father in my life. As a kid, I found myself giving my mother gifts even on father’s day. I can vividly remember the smirk on her face as she enjoyed my simplistic understanding of her role back then.
I accept that we all have a story of our past, that every story is uniquely different, and that is quite okay to have been a product of a single parent home.
When a mother becomes both Mom and Dad
From the second her newborn inhales its first breath air, a mother’s journey begins. To the best of her ability, she has prepared herself over the course of nine months for this very moment. She looks into the eyes of her precious little one; and overwhelmed by emotion as she looks upon this beautiful, innocent extension of herself, an immediate connection is formed.
Most mothers have been fortunate enough to have shared this tender moment with their husbands or boyfriends. However, approximately fifteen percent of the world’s mothers experience this moment alone, and begin a journey as both mother and father to their infants from as early as one day old.
Few of these single mothers bear the burden of having lost their husbands before the birth of their babies. The majority of these mothers however, bear a similar, yet emotionally different burden- the burden of neglect. Most accept that their relationship with the baby’s father is over, but find it extremely difficult to accept that the father has refused to be a part of their child’s life.
Subsequent to childbirth, many mothers are almost as needy as their infants. They deal with postpartum depression, sleepless nights, vaginal discharges, aching breasts; and in some cases even constipation and hemorrhoids. Even with the help from a husband, or a family member, the postpartum experience can be very trying. So, just imagine having to endure this all alone……………..
Now that I have given you the extreme case, I will bring home the reality that mothers can become single parents at just about any age during the development of her child or children. Irrespective of the stage in the child’s life, raising a child alone is not easy. Even in countries where child support and custodial sharing is awarded by the courts, many women still find themselves having to provide their child or children with the needed financial support, emotional support and guidance, all on their own.
Many single mothers work, pay the bills, make the dinner, do the laundry, attend the school plays, take the kids to dance lessons, arrange for birthday parties, oversee the homework, clean the house, arrange the rooms, do the groceries, cook the food, fold the clothes, pack the clothes, listen to problems and so much more during just one week of the year. Sure, help will be nice, but if they do not have it, and they want the best for their kids, what should they do?
Many single mothers cry internally, many become irresponsible, some commit suicide; and yet so many mothers find it in themselves to unfailingly give their children the nurturing side of them when the kids need comfort and assurance; and the stern, unsparing side of them when their children require guidance or even reprimanding. In fact, in many ways, single mothers become both mother and father to their children.
As much as a single mother tries however, there are many things that she will never be able to give her kids. As a singular entity she will not be able to set an example for her kids of what spousal relationships entail. She will not be able to give her little girl that unique confidence that a father gives his daughter via his attention and praises, neither will she be able to give her little boy that father-son relationship that boys cherish during their impressionable years and beyond.
As kids become teenagers, and they being to create their own visions of their future, the task of a single mother becomes even more challenging. She questions the merit of her effort, becomes very daunted at times and yet, continues to hope for the best possible outcome in her often painful situation.
The truth is that no household is perfect, and the world as it exists today is home to billions of diverse situations and relationships. There is no “one size fits all” formula for success. There is no book that says that children require both parents to succeed in life. However, behind every success story is usually a vision for success.
A single mother, just like any other mother, should create a foundation for each one of her kids, that is based on strong values and principles. She should expose her children to the different types of relationships that exist in the world, and be emphatic about the fact that her kids are no less deserving of life’s rewards than any other kid on the planet. Her responsibility is to provide her kids with the lenses for their future, and to ensure that she does her best to provide them with the 20/20 vision that will provide them with the best view through those lenses.
Single mothers of the world have created role models like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Cosby, Michael Phelps, Demi Moore, Alicia Keys, Ed Bradley and many more.
I applaud the single mothers of the world that continue to strive to create a path of excellence for their kids. I applaud their strength, courage and tenacity. But most of all, I praise their effort to assume the role and responsibility of both mother and father during these challenging child- raising years of their lives.