There are many single mothers in this world. I am one of them. Whether by choice or circumstances beyond their control, they are single mothers. They are everywhere. We encounter them every day of our lives. We see them at work, at the store, the doctor’s office and just about anywhere, we may be. The scene is always the same, a mom, kids and no one else by their side. Single mothers struggle with finances, daycare, and their dual role as a mother and father. They, also, triumph in their possession of an unimaginable inner strength, their success in household management, and their sole support and independence.
I remember struggling with finances. I had to decide what bills to pay when. I called it the domino effect. If I paid one on time, another one fell behind. Many times, I had to decide what to do without. I cut the cable, kept the phone. I cut the phone, kept the snacks, I cut the snacks, kept desserts, I cut desserts, I kept the meat. I constantly had to economically weigh the pros and cons of each decision. I remember days, when I told the kids, “Today is cereal day; you guys can have breakfast for dinner.” I announced it as a treat. They had no idea; there was nothing else to eat that day. No matter what, the decisions I made, helped us survive. I became the best money manager I could be and learned to budget and keep our household running.
In addition, I struggled with daycare cost. I had to decide on what care the kids received, not on ratings of the provider, but on cost alone. The providers that had the best ratings also had the priciest cost. I looked for alternatives that still kept the kids safe, but gave up on educational benefits. I relied on private babysitters, and teenagers. Although they did not have the best ratings, or educational benefits, at least, they had recommendations from friends, family, or church members. The kids were well cared for.
The hardest struggle I had was that of being a mother figure and a father figure, both at once. As a mother, I made decisions with my heart, as a father, I made decisions with my head. I found that I had two voices. When the kids needed nurturing and love, my mother’s voice was present. When they needed support and understanding, my mother’s voice was there. However, when discipline and order was at hand, my father’s voice took over. When reasoning and strength were needed, my father’s voice was there. The children learned to distinguish between the two. It was not an easy task, especially, when we attended school functions. Many kids had both their father and mother present, but not them. I was there alone. I could see it would bother them some times.
As a single mother, I gained an unimaginable inner strength. There were circumstances where I only could resolve problems on my own. I had no support and no one to rely on. I remember when my daughter had emergency surgery; I had no one to hold my hand, no one to tell me it would be ok. I had to stand there alone, holding my emotions in place and rely on my own inner strength to get through. She and I spent 12 days alone in the hospital. That experience allowed me to become stronger.
I had to learn household management. Raising five children is not easy; I had to pre-plan bathroom use, laundry schedules, transportation, sleeping arrangements, food shopping, fun and playtime, extra-curricular activities, and anything else that goes along those lines. The younger ones took bath at night, the older ones in the morning. We separated laundry by colors, and when a basket was full of clothes, we washed them. Schools started at different times, so arrangements had to ensure everyone was on time, and I could still be to work on schedule. All the things that had to be accomplished had a place and a time. Household management was the most important part of succeeding at single motherhood.
I had to learn to be Independent, to carry out all tasks required of me. I remember my car broke down. The alternator had to be replaced. I took it to the mechanic, and he said it cost $550.00 dollars to replace it. I could not afford it. It was way over budget for me. I went to the local auto shop, bought a mechanic’s book of instructions, bought the alternator, and any tools I needed. With the help of my best friend, we replaced it together. Had I had a husband, or partner, I, probably, would have relied on him. I believed that being a single mother, drove me to do what I may have not attempted otherwise.
Even though being a single mother had its struggles, it held triumphs of its own. I have no regrets of the decisions or choices I made. If I had to do it all over again, I would. Why? Because the person I am today, emerged from the influences of all the circumstances that I faced all those years. I am strong, independent and can manage everyday life with confidence. Additionally, and more than anything, I would do it all over again, because our struggles and triumphs together as a family, has given each of my kids, a unique inner strength of their own and has allowed them to find their own independence in this world.