The Challenges of a Single Mother

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A single mother has to deal with the challenges of excelling at work to bring home enough for the child and for herself, while also playing the role of the primary nurturer, opines Rina, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

The two genders in the human race are for a reason – men and women play distinct roles in one another’s lives and in the lives of those around them. Everyone evolves to take on responsibilities and fulfill them to the fullest of their dreams and capabilities.

Women often face challenges in balancing internal aspirations with social responsibilities – leave other factors – but from just being a mother, a wife, a daughter, and trying their best to be excellent professionals and successful at that. 

Charlize Theron said it beautifully when she said, “You know, I don’t think any mother aims to be a single mother.” It is not that women think men are dispensable and not needed for life’s journeys but women make decisions, often from the turmoil of lives and their spouses that often leaves them as single mothers.

A single mother has the enviable responsibility of showcasing the X and Y genetic traits to ensure her child does not grow up feeling the void of the Superman role model – a father. In the midst of doing this, a single mother has to deal with the challenges of excelling at work to bring home enough for the child and for herself, while also playing the role of the primary nurturer.

Consider that mothers are often ones that spend the longest time with children out of biological compulsion as well as the inherent ability to raise a young one with love and patience. In raising a child, an enormous amount of effort has to be expended mentally, physically, and critically, emotionally. If this translates to being the only parent – a single mom at that. The expectations raise manifold.

A single mother doesn’t have the liberty of stopping at being a nurturer. She is often (no disrespect) a nurse that cares for her child, a maid that cleans up the child, a provider that has to get the food home, the planner that plans for the child’s future in terms of lifetime earnings, monetary spends, and the education and upbringing. If one becomes a single mother due to unfortunate reasons in life, it raises the challenge immeasurably.

She needs to ensure that her child does not grow up resentful at not having a father. Often this means the child is ridiculed at school or even by immature adults that cast aspersions on how a woman came to be a single mom without so much as asking her about it. It could mean having to console the child that the father was lost in life early (he may well have chosen to move on or mutually split from the woman) without making the child feel abandoned and lacking a father when most other children have theirs around.

If the child is a male child, the woman has to be careful not to over-compensate for the absence of the father that may risk the young boy with emotional scarring causing the boy to have mental issues such as bullying, cross-dressing, or even aspiring to be a woman out of the hatred of the male species for instance! Society has several other reasons to respect those that have these thoughts but that is outside the boundaries of this perspective for now.

If the single mother is emotionally sensitive, the risk is the child could mould oneself into not showing emotion at the risk of appearing weak; or trying to be an absolute bully to hide natural emotions and weaker moments.

The single mother may choose to stay single for her own reasons and in that case, she has to ward off natural advances from men; some that may not take kindly to her. It might well be a male colleague in a senior position at work that seeks vengeance for refusal by blocking the single mom’s growth in a professional sense.

In practical terms, it’s not so much the designation as the fact that this impacts the single mother’s ability to earn and provide for herself and her child.

Regardless of the circumstances, the single mother also has to let the child develop innate respect for both women and men and not see either gender as being weak and develop ridicule internally. Girl children have to be moulded to still respect men and understand the difference is intrinsic. They have to be raised with care to still be strong without appearing to be arrogantly feministic. The same as it is for a male child that has to be raised to not disrespect women or men. In fact, not to disrespect women especially if the mother reveals – at some stage – that it was her decision to stay a single mother or become one!

All through the journey, the single mother sometimes has to hide her innermost thoughts and apprehensions to stay focused on life’s realities and practical truths. When she’s menstruating, she can’t look for help; when she has menopause, she can’t aspire to a career break just to care for herself. 

A single mother may lack the Y chromosome but that won’t stop her from being a supermom!

That’s what I want you to walk away with.

Not pity.

But rather a camaraderie.

After all, we all want to raise our children to be amazing!

©Rina

Photos from the Internet, sourced from the author

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Rina is an accomplished graphic designer with a strong knowledge of Adobe software, visual communication, multimedia scripting, human-computer interface, and also the knowledge of 3D animation and production techniques. Creative, resourceful and flexible, able to adapt to changing priorities and maintain a positive attitude and strong work ethic. Passionate about art, not only practicing it but also spreading, appreciating, and learning it. She is currently situated in Singapore.