Being a single mother
One of the problems that you will probably face, will be to face the prejudices of society.
Although it seems that we are all very liberal, in the bottom of people’s hearts, they follow the idea of ‘poor child who is being raised without a father’. When surely that child is much more loved and desired than many others who may have that father figure in their life.
In my case, I was never really alone. Although who should have accompanied me in the adventure of being a mother was not there, their absence was filled from the first day with the love and unconditional support of my family, who have been by my side for everything, from the material to the emotional, and for that, I am deeply grateful. There has never been a lack of someone to accompany me to the pediatrician, or to help me put together a carseat (something that at times seems like quantum physics! Lol) or someone to run to the pharmacy at midnight if my child has a fever.
I also believed that my son receives teachings from his grandparents and aunts and uncles all the time, something that not all children are lucky enough to experience. Thus, in these almost six years we have been forming a new family; possibly not the one I imagined having in my teenage dreams, but one where there is support and love.
You will understand why it bothers me so much that lately there are characters who suggest that the “real” family is only the one with “mom, dad and children.” Because I know from experience that the traditional structure is not a guarantee of love, empathy or even responsibility.
The family exists because of the affection of those who make it up, regardless of who they are.
Obviously, I’m not going to tell you that this journey has been easy. It has been the biggest challenge of my life, to say the least. I think that being a single mom is like being a “band man” because with or without help, one is filling the space of two people in the lives of the children. I have read several books and blogs on this subject, and I have noticed that there is a feeling that all of us share: that we have to love for two, work for two, care for two, care for two, and in fact, be two: dad and mom at the same time. And deep in our hearts, we fear that despite these efforts we will not be enough, no matter how hard we try.
One of the biggest challenges for me has been balancing the emotional with the demands of daily life.
There have been times when sadness has won me over, and I have wanted to cry for days, but knowing that there is a little person who needs me to there one hundred percent, has given me strength to overcome and continue. I don’t have time to cry. This experience has made me aware that single moms face feelings of fear, stress, guilt, anxiety, frustration and abandonment that other moms may not experience on a daily basis, and it is sometimes necessary to rely on psychotherapist or family counselor to better process certain issues painful or unfair, or simply to talk with someone who can give us an objective view of what we live. I believe that taking care of our mental health is responsible for our good and that of our children, and in my case the support of psychologist and educators was essential to handle certain issues, especially those of sharing parenthood with someone who does not live at home.
Despite this, I believe that after five years many of the fears I had regarding my son and my role as a mom have dissipated. There was a time when I associated everything that happened to my son (from illness to bad mood) with the fact that he does not live with his father. But thanks other women, I have realized that my concerns are not very different from other married moms. In general, these are typical age issues that almost all children go through.
It is not possible to speak of shared responsibilities as long as there are parents who “exercise” once every fifteen days (which is equivalent to 24 days in the year), while the other 341 days we are the ones who are “at the bottom of the canyon”: worrying because they sleep, because they eat, because they take extracurricular classes, to choose the right school, to play even though we’re tired, getting up at midnight to take care of our sick children while we are sick too, staying up, working one, two and three jobs at the same time, anyway.
I think this is because there is still the wrong idea that women are mothers “by default”, while being a father is a matter of good will. Somehow, it is still believed that children “are the problem” of mothers, and that is why no one is very horrified when he hears of cases of abandonment by fathers. Because we still believe that this is “normal.”
We single mothers know that the reality is different. We know that the amount of time we spend with our children is the same that parents who do not live with them invest in professional promotion and rebuilding their social and emotional life, luxuries that many of us do not have the time to give ourselves. Our effort, our dedication, our sacrifice is not susceptible to monetary valuation; there is no alimony that can match what we do every day. As I recently read on a blog on this topic, anyone can write a check at the end of the month. What makes us true fathers or mothers is the ability to overcome the panic that we all experience when knowing that there is a human being who depends entirely on us; and only when we assume our role as parents with courage, with love, and above all, with detachment. There is no party, work, or social life that can be more important than that little piece of life that we have in our hands. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to understand this.
Despite the daily challenges, I know that I was very lucky to have parents, siblings, family and friends who supported me unconditionally and did not abandon me. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of other single mothers like me, who have their families turned their backs on, who don’t have a good financial situation, or who are simply too young to even assimilate what they are facing. I do not know how they achieve it, and my respect goes to all of them, or them all my respect goes, my solidarity to my admiration. I believe that it is time that as a society we assume our responsibility for these mothers and their children, offering them jobs that are commensurate with their condition, shared care systems and free childcare, and strengthening a legal apparatus that guarantees a true shared responsibility regarding upbringing, and don’t just ensure the delivery of a check at the end of the month. Because being a father or mother is not a matter of biology, but of decency.
Personally, I believe that the best way to bring back to life the blessing of being an “accompanied” single mother will be to raise a man free from sexist stereotypes, who assumes his responsibilities on equal terms when he becomes a father.