Updated: Sep 29, 2020
What Did She Do?
Bravely Faced Motherhood by Herself
Working Single Mom: I always thought that by 29 I would be married, with kids. It was the full proof plan I had designed for my life. But like they say "We make plans, God laughs”. The funny thing is, I am now laughing with him, because after sometime, all you are left to do is laugh... at the unfortunate situation, at the sad reality.
I met Joshua in my final year of university. He was a Banker. He had a good life, had his act together. A house, a car, a good job and clearly, a bright future. Joshua was madly in love with me. It was the type of crazy, unconditional love you only read in movies or see in novels. We dated for almost a year and he practically proposed to me. I was very happy.
Joshua and I continued dating till I finished my university education, all through my year of service and till when I got my first job. Then I met Samuel. Samuel was every girl’s dream. He was tall, dark and handsome. He had those deep, piercing eyes of a werewolf and the charisma of a Greek god. He was an Assistant Manager in the Bank I joined and I was just an Executive Trainee. We had seen each other around the bank a number of times but our paths finally crossed at a meeting. He took my number, and we started communicating. He wanted me – or so he said. He called, texted, sent me flowers, said everything I wanted to hear, it was magical.
I knew I was flirting with the devil but I could not stop myself. I had a fiance who was the sweetest, most perfect guy I could ever dream of, and then there was this huge distraction I could not resist.
How Did She Do it?
Learned to Accept My New Reality & Still Flourish
Working Single Mom: It all happened on a Friday night. We had our usual ‘TGIF’ party at the office. We all had a very good time. Maybe too much of a good time even. Sam and I had spent the evening together at the party. I definitely got too carried away with the wine and was too tipsy to go home myself. Of course, suave Sam offered to take me to his house to pass the night since I was to tipsy to drive home alone. I am sure you know where this is going already. Yes, that night, I cheated on Joshua, but the worst part was that I did not use protection. Everything would have been okay, if not for that one BIG, HUGE mistake.
I told Joshua what happened. He was hurt, very hurt. We broke up, but he loved me too much so he forgave me and we got back together. A few weeks later, I realized I had not seen my period. I started to panic. After three positive pregnancy tests, I had to accept that I was pregnant. When I told Joshua, he was distraught. He and I always used protection – he did not want to get me pregnant, so he knew it was not his. I knew too. We broke up completely right after that. He could not handle the idea of me having someone else’s child. It was traumatizing seeing my future with him disappear into thin air. Then I had to tell Samuel. He took it well, and said he would be there for me throughout the journey and be present as the baby’s father. I remember feeling extremely disappointed in myself in that moment. This was not the future I had planned.
Growing the baby bump at work was a lot to handle. There were so many questions from everyone… “Oh, I did not know you were married?”, “Oh my, you’re pregnant? For who?”. It is a feeling I cannot describe. The side comments, the awkward silences, the judgmental stares, I felt like an animal in a circus, and that was just at work. At home, my parents were furious! They seemed to be even more furious that I caused the breakup with Joshua who they had already welcomed as their son-in-law than the fact that I was pregnant. Many nights, I cried from the bottom of my heart looking at how my life had changed drastically because of that one mistake. A month before my due date, Samuel left the country to Canada, he got a new job and relocated to a better life. I brought my little girl into the world with my Mum by my side. That was definitely not the way I had imagined that moment.
Life moved on of course. I got back to work and continued living. My parents were most supportive, helping me with my daughter in the early stages, but eventually, I had to get a place of my own and raise my baby by myself. It has been very difficult. Doing it all on my own. Paying for school, attending to her every need, always putting her first, while still having to put in my best at work to grow in my career. Of course, my dating life has taken the back burner since she was born. How can I make time for dates when I have a toddler at home? There is this underlying guilt that follows you around when you even want to get carried away with romance. I always have to think of her best interest first before bringing any man into our lives.
There are nights I feel so stressed and lonely that I just cry in my pillow when I think of how different my life could have been; especially when I see other mothers having someone there to help them out. All I have is myself. And I have to be strong, not just for me, but for both of us. Joshua and Sam are married now with kids. Sam calls in once in a while and sends financial support occasionally, but he is preoccupied with his new family and I will not do myself and my daughter a disservice by reaching out to him to be present in our lives like he promised. I think life is really funny. Two people make one big mistake. The man gets to move on with his life and have a second chance, but the woman has to sacrifice so much to deal with the repercussions by herself. I find it all unfair but I’ve grown to accept the reality. What is important to me now is staying happy and fulfilled and still being successful by myself and with the help of all my loved ones around me, whilst giving my daughter the best life possible.
A Moment That Tried Her
Redefining What Happiness Looks Like
Working Single Mom: I don’t think there is just one moment. There are moments that have tested me. From hearing my daughter ask why her father is not living with us, to having to explain why her father has another ‘Mummy’; or having some ignorant person insinuate that she is a ‘bastard’. I will not even talk about the stigma I face as a single Mum. From women who look down on me and assume that I am a lose woman for having a child out of wedlock, or even at work where I am being denied opportunities and positions because of my status as a single mother. I try to be strong and I have definitely become a stronger woman because of this journey. Lately, however, I have found genuine happiness in my new reality. I am grateful to have a beautiful daughter and loved ones around me who would always care for me and my daughter. I am thriving at work and still living a full and complete life without subscribing to the social constructs of what happiness in family looks likes. I have fashioned a new construct for single parenthood and I’m loving it.
Her Eureka Moment?
I Have to Be Strong for My Daughter
Working Single Mom: I think seeing my daughter grow up has been the most empowering thing for me. Even if I am unhappy, and it seems like my life is just not what I imagined, I know I have more to live for now. It is not just about me anymore. It is about this little girl’s future. So, I have to keep fighting to give her a better life, to make her happy, to make sure that when she sees me, she sees a strong woman that inspires her, someone she is proud of, not someone she is disappointed in. That realization has completely changed my life, strengthened me and made me the better woman I am today.
In recent times, more than any other time in history, we are seeing many more young women become single parents due to increased changes in socio-cultural practices in the world today. According to Johns Hopkins' researchers, 57% of millennial moms are unmarried moms. Whether it is as a result of unplanned or planned pregnancies, divorce, or death of a spouse, the reality is that in society today, a good percentage of women are tackling the many challenges of single parenthood.
From discrimination at work and other functions, to stereotyping and stigma from society, economic or financial setbacks, and of course battling the adverse effects of single parenthood on the child, single mothers locally and globally truly face an uphill battle that lingers for most of their lives as parents. With limited interventions catering to this demographic and less attention paid to their general well being, many disadvantaged single mothers and their children go through extreme suffering and poverty with the children being affected the most in this situation. The need for increased visibility over the plight of single mothers and the need for increased interventions by the public and private sector to cater to the needs of this often-side-lined demographic cannot be overemphasized.
If you or anyone you know is a single mother in need of support, remember you are not alone. Find help from any of the local and global organizations catering to the plight of single motherhood in your neighborhood (find a few suggestions below):