Single Motherhood: The Truth No One Talks About
Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the incredible responsibility that is being a sole parent. I look at Bo and I think, how can I possibly do this, all of this, alone? This isn’t what I wanted. I wanted to be with her father. I wanted the happy family. I wanted to be together. To share the load. To share the joy. I wanted to be able to sit on the couch with my husband at the end of the day and laugh about the beautiful things she did, and cry over the frustrations and have him there to hold my hand and help out and love her like I do. Because as hard as it is to not be able to share the challenges… it’s just as hard not having someone right there to share the joy. The little things, like a kid finally doing a poo after being bunged up for a few days, or eating their whole lunch, or having a proper nap… we want to share these things with someone and let’s be honest, no one else cares about those things as much (or if at all) as the parents.
The other night Bo woke at 10pm and wouldn’t go back to sleep so I got her up and snuggled with her on the couch in front of a movie. She was so beautiful. She sat eating peanut butter on toast. Licking her fingers and talking to me very seriously in her own language, every now pausing and raising her eyebrows at me… as if to say, do you understand mama, are you hearing me? And I would say, yes of course. She would then start giggling and shouting at the people on the TV. And it was such a perfect moment. I looked at her and I could see a glimpse of the little girl she is going to be and I wish her dad had been here to see her. To share in the absolute joy that she is. I wish I had someone to truly share those moments with. The moments of pride.
When I think of the incredibly unreasonable expectations we have on mothers in general, I am shocked. Our society pushes for (unreasonable) perfection. Our society expects that mothers should raise these perfect children whilst being essentially isolated from the world. Instead of offering support, we offer judgmental advice, books with parenting “rules” and guidelines that have the potential of stripping mothers of their instinct. And then we add on top of that a mother without the support of a partner, without the small moments of respite that the partnered mother is given. Without the time to find herself.
And we turn around and we judge these mothers. Single mothers. We judge them. I know a young single mother who was called the most disgusting names by her own brother, because she is without a man. Because she chose to continue her pregnancy and raise her beautiful child alone. Because she didn’t have the choice to just “walk away.” Because she chose life. We judge women we see alone, wrangling children. The plight of the single parent has become fodder for television shows and sitcoms and jokes… what we don’t do is offer real, supportive, full assistance. I’m not talking about pensions or money or aid. I’m ashamed (albeit extraordinarily grateful) to have to ask for a handout from the government to survive… and I’m sure most people are. I’d prefer to have the facility to raise my child the way (I believe) she deserves to be raised and work enough to make good money to support us without help. But as one person, that is not possible right now; our society doesn’t support working options for mothers who want to keep their children with them.
I’m talking about swapping judgment for humanity. Hate for love. Do-it-my-way-advice for hands-on help.
Why is it so hard for us as a society to be supportive of our people? Why are we always so quick to judge and so slow to react? When did we become so distant from each other? When did society stop being about community? When did parenthood become more about rules and less about raising good, strong, caring people -- together.