We all instinctively know that single parenting is hard, but unless you’ve done it yourself, you don’t really understand, writes guest editor Kwanele Mbobo.

Single parenting has been a journey for me, a rollercoaster of emotions and many firsts for both baby and myself.

Until I became a mother myself, I never really knew what being a single mother actually meant. Yes, I knew a few of them, I’ve known children raised by them, and admired them, but in reality, what we imagine doesn’t even begin to explain raising a child as a single parent and what it’s actually like.

When we think about the challenges faced by single mothers, we think finances and the fact that one is actually raising a child alone in its entirety (which is a real challenge). However, what I’ve faced as a 25-year-old single mother raising a child, isn’t quite what I expected.

THE CHALLENGES

It’s Lonely

My daughter’s temperature was 38°C, so I called our doctor and he told us to rush to the ER. I quickly packed essentials and headed for the hospital. While she was being attended to, I was dealing with paperwork. Once that was done and it was back to the ER, I found myself sitting down, looking at my daughter and I was overcome with a sudden heavy feeling of loneliness. The room felt so big and my daughter and I, so small.

I realised that maybe, just maybe, sharing this moment with someone else would’ve made this situation a tiny bit more bearable. The loneliness doesn’t come from not having support, because I have an amazing family that’s always there for me. It comes from those little moments where I look around and it’s just my child and me, which was never the future I imagined.

It’s scary

Do I hire a nanny or take her to a daycare? What if she misbehaves? What if she has an illness and I cannot handle it? What if I’m a bad mother? How will I afford it? These are all questions I ask myself and need to come up with an answer to. You have a whole human to grow, teach and mentor – nothing could be scarier. More so if no one is there to make mistakes and learn with you.

As a single mother you feel so much pressure to be better at parenting because you feel guilty for not being able to provide a home for your child that has both parents, even though you know in your heart that it’s for the best. The fear of failing is inevitable.

Dating

As much as I wouldn’t trade my little girl for anything, just between you and me, a small voice in my head sometimes wonders how a potential partner will take the news that I’m a mom. Many women go through this challenge and thought process but don’t share it due to the fear that they will be perceived as ashamed of being mothers, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

When a woman shares this challenge with me I always say to them, “If his/her perception of you changes after finding out you have a child, he/she wasn’t the one to begin with.”

THE WINS

Everything has its upsides, especially being a parent. Even though it has its challenges, it’s the most rewarding job anyone could ever have.

Strong Bond

The fact that it’s just the two of us means we have time to develop a strong bond that isn’t shared with anyone else. My daughter’s love is only for me and mine only for her. I love having ‘mommy moments’, waking up to my child’s smiles and being the main person she relies on.

I make the decisions

Sometimes parents have different parenting styles, which causes a lot of conflict and requires compromise to solve. This problem is eliminated when you’re the only one deciding on how you want your child to be raised. I get to decide what languages I want my child to speak, how she is spoken to, what method of discipline I use, etc. This is thrilling.

Role model

By being the only parent there, you are able to model good behaviour, and teach your child that you can overcome any challenges. From a young age, this will teach them responsibility and that it is possible to live and thrive on one’s own. Without another parent in the picture, I get to be the only role model in the early years of my child’s life, thus having the unique opportunity to role model strong, ethical behaviour.

Despite the challenges, single motherhood has undoubtedly been the best part of my life.

 

About the author: Guest editor Kwanele Mbobo blogs at Xhosa Mom Unplugged (xhosamomunplugged.wordpress.com) about being a single mom, pregnancy, children, culture, wellness for moms (both mental and physical) and all things parenting related.

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