Updated: Jan 15, 2020
You hear it all the time, how it's always so hard to be a single mom, bearing the weight of our parental responsibilities alone, how bad we struggle, the challenges we face. Let's not just stop there; how about the postpartum depression, being financially independent, feeling unwanted? Honestly, I can go on forever with all of the negative traits embodying this "single mother persona". But truth is... it's not all bad.
"It takes a village to raise a child." So cliche, yet so true right? See, prior to having children, I hated rejection. I hated it so much that I never tried to put myself in a position where I felt as though I needed or wanted anyone's help. I carried that attitude in everything I did, I had to in order to avoid the mere possibility of rejection. It was just my luck that I got pregnant and bared children; two children to be exact. With my first child, I tried to prove to everyone around me that I could do it all by myself. I disregarded people's offers to help. My favorite line was "Okay thanks, but I should be fine" when all along, I wasn't. That was until I entered my first year of nursing school, which was about 3 months after the birth of my first child.
After a long night of nursing... then class the next morning
Nursing school was so challenging. So many deadlines, assignments and outside obligations that I had no choice but to ask for help and start accept offers. This was my first introduction to understanding the concept of a village. By the time I had my second child I became totally open to that concept and then the question posed itself to me, are we truly single mothers? When looking at the definition, yes, we may be "single" parents because we are no longer in a relationship or married, but when you take a good look around are we really alone? Is there a friend we can turn to vent? Are we able to step out of the house when we need a moment of fresh air? Is there a grandmother or elder around that can offer relief when needed? What about a sister to fulfill her auntie duties? Even further, what about our neighbors, educators, church families... our communities
Jill Scott said it best on a Steve Harvey's segment when she opened up about being a single mother. “Honestly, I am not a single mother. Everybody joins in to help me raise Jett. These are people that I love and trust. Single, to me, implies that there’s nobody else to help you. If I need a minute, if I need some advice, I can call some folks, and they’ll come in. They’ll help throw the ball, teach him how to play catch, they’ll teach him how to pee standing up, because what do I know about it?” Scott explained. Her words are my exact sentiments and feelings towards being a mom. At its core, NO, we are not singly raising our children; the only part that defines us as single is our relationship status. Beyond that, everyone else around us plays a part in our children’s upbringing.
The downside to labeling yourself as a single mother is that society then sees you as a woman who struggles, as one who requires sympathy, or better yet "the help". That is why it’s important we begin to change the narrative. Yes, I am raising my children as a "single parent" but my support system stands with me!
Howard University - 2018 Grad Photo