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The Case for Single Parents: The Pothole-Filled Road Bullock-Cart Ride

If there's one thing I am extremely proud of, and I only have to name one thing out of the intensely long list of things that I could and should be proud of, it would be this: I've managed to juggle the life of raising my kids and making money at the same time.

I think the life of a single working mother is an extremely tough one. So tough, I don't think any kind of writing or speaking can do it justice.

Generally speaking, life as a mother or parent is a tough one.

The journey is not only harrowing, uncertain, scary (VERY scary), full of potholes, filled with closed doors and rainbows (it could both come to you all in one day or a whole year), goes unrewarded most of the time, but it is also the kind of journey that once embarked, you can never disembark.

Sort of like getting on a plane. Once you're in, you're going to be there for the entire journey, like it or not.

Image Crdit: Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

"You can survive this, or you can lie down and die," -
Surviving (and Thriving) as a Single Mom

And yet, not only are single mothers and fathers overlooked and have to endure skewed views and judgment, people have strange misconceptions of single parents.

I Am Here For You

Being a parent who is there for your kids and being able to juggle through the mud hole of maintaining a career is one of the toughest tasks in the world. Many people have had to choose one of the other and I know quite a number of people who just have no other option than to choose one over the other.

So, despite everything, I sometimes feel blessed.

I've had the privilege of being there for my kids' every new tooth, scrapes, falls, joys, new thing learned, phases of their lives, emotional upheavals, exuberant joys, wins, losses, and touchdowns.

I will forever be grateful for this opportunity and thankful to the people who believed in me. You're all irreplaceable and have a special place in my heart.

Knowing that I have a family to protect, you included me into your work family too and stood with me when most people shunned me.

As with everything else in life, things change.

Image Credit: Linus Nylund on Unsplash

Journey-ing Ahead

We are embarking on a brand new journey, I realize because my kids are now old enough to not need me for everything. I overslept this morning and instead of waking me up to send him to college, my son upped and went to college himself. I went on a weekend outing with my immediate family while they had a day-out and BBQ dinner with their friends.

Their journey is now different from what it was 20 years ago when they needed me for everything from wiping their butts to scratching their backs to sleep.

I am standing in front of a forked road I knew was there. I am finally here; although I am ready for it, my heart is filled with anxiety and worry.

Say what you will, this is not an easy phase to face. I've, after all, left my own personal needs behind a long time ago.

It's like looking out into a world filled with possibilities yet your life is suddenly also filled with a void. I find myself asking myself time and time again...what now?

If you ask yourself this question, the blinding answer will come speeding towards you like a bullet train...YOU DON'T KNOW.

Having worked from home and being there for my kids for the past 2 decades made me into an extremely resilient person who is always ready for both the best news on earth and the worst nightmare. It's like standing with both feet on top of a needle. You can't afford to lose your balance and falling is a long way down. A very LONG way down.

But if you looked up, there's the vast Universe that has everything to offer you and it's exciting!

Image Credit: pixabay on Pexels

A Mountain Climbed

I am so proud of the fact that I've managed this feat, something that countless people struggle to achieve but the next phase is also, as I've mentioned, both inevitable and frightening.

Back in 2000, it was weird, totally whack, for someone to work from home. My late grandmother would ask me to get a real job every time she met me. I don't think my parents consider my occupation a job. People ask me for small favors all the time because they think 'working from home' meant I have all the time in the world.

The reality is that I have less time than many other people.

To survive being both a parent and a working person at the same time, every single minute is precious to me. I don't get to 'go home' at the end of the day and I have to compensate for my office non-presence during face-to-face online conference calls.

I've had to stay up in the middle of the night either completing projects or have conference calls and yet wake up on time in the morning to get my kids out the door. I've had to meet deadlines and help my kids navigate the scary turn of transitioning into the next phase of their lives. I had to worry about the growth of the company and my kids' exams at the same time too.

Hence, I had to have a system and understanding in place. This means I have the least time in the world to go to the grocery store to get that packet of salt for people who think I have all the time in the world.

Back in the corporate world, I revelled in the fact that work was work, family was family. There was a clear line drawn between both realms.

And yet, I am proud of the fact that I've managed to come this be here for my kids while they needed me to be here and yet come up with a feasible system that allowed me to meet my client's deadlines and demands.

Image Credit: Ben White on Unsplash

Sidelined and Scorned

Single parents, however, receive the least help and understanding from governments, societies, communities, and companies. I hope this will change in the future. Being a single parent is one of the most arduous jobs in the world and we deserve more help.

If you looked at the world today, there's help for almost everyone, including abandoned pets. We do not even come close to receiving the same kind of understanding and aid from the people around us that abandoned pets get.

Instead, we're viewed as expired or rejected goods. We brought it onto ourselves, we made the choice, and we have to learn how to 'get our shit together'.

Data tells us that nearly 41% of single mothers are currently divorced or separated, nearly 43% of them have never been married, 15.7% are married (this includes those who have remarried), and 1.2% were widowed. There are all kinds of single parents out there and you can read the data on them here yourself.

This type of discrimination is blatant and now that half of me is out the door, I will pay more attention to raising awareness about the fight of single parents who have to manage everything from putting food on the table to making sure we've not run out of toothpaste because we don't have a backup and we can't use being a single parent as an excuse to not deliver on a deadline.

 “I want you to think about the people who are experiencing it, the treatment, who don't know to question "Is that treatment of me really OK?'...and it's really hard because you go to bed feeling a little bit crap about yourself and questioning all of the choices that you've made" - Juanita McLaren, Parent Advocate.

In Australia, there's something called the Single Parent Payment which bolsters a single parent's (be it a mom or dad) income when raising a child alone. The aid has a cut-off point that gets lower and lower as the child gets older which does not make sense because the cost of raising the child only gets higher and higher as they age.

Any parent can tell you that.

Drastic Data

The world has a high poverty rate for single-parent households and not many people care enough about them/us. Many times we live below the poverty line. We've have had to do everything within our power to keep the family from sinking and yet, pets have it better than many of these human children.

Image Credit: Frank Busch on Unsplash

About 1/3 of U.S. children are living with an unmarried parent. While most of these children are living with solo mothers, it's surprising to see that there's an uptrend of fathers being single parents, going from 1% in 1968 to 4% in recent years.

In fact, I know of women who 'resort to' remarrying just to keep their children alive. I use the word 'choose to remarry' loosely and I am not trying to undermine their relationship or marriage. I am basing this on personal conversations I've had with my acquaintances but I am sure they're not alone in this.

There's nothing wrong with remarrying, it's the reason for remarrying that they are questioning too.
Should that even be the 'only option' left for single parents? Should that, in fact, be an option at all?  

A Resilient Survivor

Given all of that information, I am thankful and will forever be grateful that I was here for my kids and feel a little huffy when people refer to my kids as 'Mama's boys'.

Yes, they kind of are but that's because it has been just me and them for such a long time. I've watched them hobble through the first years of their lives and they've watched me hobble through financial and emotional crises.

We've only got each other which makes the transition into the next phase of our lives a lot more difficult. For me, at least.

But I am extremely proud of the fact that we've made this far...and we WILL hold our heads up high and make it even further. I am proud of my kids for being whoever they are today and thank my lucky stars every single day.

We've been thrown off the cart before and we know for a fact that we can get back up.

I hope people become more aware of the difficulties of raising kids on their own. Have a look around you, in your neighborhood, office, within your family or circle of friends and be understanding about it for a start.

We could do with fewer judgement.

Confidence isn't thinking you are better than everyone else, it's realizing that you have no reason to compare yourself to anyone else - Maryam Hasnaa

If you have the time, have a read about how serious the business of happiness really is here. (The article looks long but it makes perfect sense. I also totally enjoyed the illustrations!)

Happy Saturday, everyone!

As usual, if you find grammatical errors, wrong info, offensive content, incorrect references, or other things that you think I might want to change, get in touch with me at marshamaung at gmail.

Note: This sure took me a long time to write and publish, as with any of the articles I've always written about this topic. It always hit a few raw nerves and I keep holding back. Instead of being viewed as a victim of sorts, I wanted to convey a positive message instead. 


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