I love my daughter to death. Missy. She turned two years weeks back. Every day I realise she is all I have. Right now at least. It is me and her. Her and I. We. Together. And it is fine. Actually it is great until it is not so great. When I’m overwhelmed and wondering if I will make it to the end. That said, I love being a mom, Missy’s mom. It has completely changed me. I am wiser, I am more mature. I am kinder. I am more empathetic. I’m less selfish. In general. Where before I always put me first, motherhood has taught me (still learning) to practice putting someone else’s needs before my own.
I won’t lie though. I won’t sugar coat it. Especially because people keep making comments that now tire me like: “Lilo, you’re a strong mom, you’re doing a fantastic job. I’m not sure I could do what you do.”
Others, after hearing how I’ve come to be where I am solo parenting say: “Everything happens for a reason. God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle.”
OK let’s just hold up for a second. God DOES in fact give you what you CAN’T handle. Sorry but this is by far my biggest pet peeve. Especially, when these words come from people who don’t really share nor can relate to your story and experiences. Warranted, they may mean well, heaping ‘praise’ on you. Perhaps to encourage or because they have nothing or no idea how to contribute to the conversation or your situation, so they say what they think will ureg you on. To me though, this kind of encouragement only perches me atop some imaginary pedestal that makes me out to be a SHE-RA. A human superhero of sorts; one who bears super powers real or imagined that have somehow enabled me crush all stereotypes and make single parenting look like a walk in the park. Like we woke up one morning as kids and decided: ‘HET! When I grow up I’m gonna be a single parent.
First of all (let me just put this out there), NO ONE save for those who willingly go out and choose to bring home a baby by way of adoption or deliberately have sex with the intention of having one out of the confines of a marriage or a comitted relationship decides to just up and become a single mom or dad. NO ONE. A majority of us fall into parenting solo ‘accidentally’, poor decisions or through life’s design after the death of a spouse. It follows that no one is ever ready to handle becoming a single parent let alone a parent.
For decades, we have witnessed the challenges of raising a child alone from parents before us. Yes, a gazillion people around the world have raised some stunning, brilliant and successful men and women from the ground up-on their own. The Obamas of this world. But there is always a recurring theme in these solo parenting stories: their single parents worked their arses off to ensure they and their offspring made it out alive. So it is not that they succeeded because they had superior mommy and daddy abilities or nurturing capabilities over their non-single parent counterparts. It is just that they had NO CHOICE, but to rise up and DECIDE to be there for their offspring no matter what.
I thus find it odd that people would tell you, “you can handle it”, presuming that they can’t. It’s like saying you can handle death and thats why God or the universe allows death to occur. It’s preposterous to even think that, because no one can handle death. Death is the natural order of things. Single parenting is not the natural order of things. If it were then there would be no need for sex between a man and woman nor the collision of egg and sperm. We would just all lay eggs like chicken and sit on them until they hatched.
I will clarify though, I’m not saying that single parenthood is akin to death. It is not. My point is: I of the single mommy fraternity did not find myself along this journey because I can ‘handle it’, or because I am stronger then the next. If that was the case then this God we peddle around as being fair and just, is definitely not a fair God.
So yeah, in my pursuit to raise my daughter like everyone else there are good days and bad days. There are days I’m high as a kite on positivity and there are days despite putting up a show for the world to see, I want to scream and jump off a cliff. Ok maybe not literally.
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. For me raising a child on my own is possibly and even harder job. I know there are folks, who argue that in two parent homes you can still be in a solo parenting scenario. I don’t dispute this and I empathize with folks who are living with irresponsible or absentee partners. However, I can tell you, I sometimes still envy them, as perhaps do they, I. Yes, I love my single mommy life most of the time and the freedom ‘perks’ that come with it; freedom that allows me to for example make all the decisions as concerns Missy without the hassle of having to fight over how to raise her, but I also want to roll up into a ball and ugly cry because the world that believes ‘I can handle it,’ can’t see that I actually aren’t handling it.
You see. I’m always tired. I’m always fatigued. I always feel like I’m not doing enough despite knowing I do what needs to be done; more often than not. It’s hard. I suppose when I finally see Missy off to Uni in 16 years time, or when she grows up into that fine young woman ready to Michelle Obamafy the world, then I’ll not feel like the ‘hard’ was as hard.
Until then, I will continue to fight the sudden tears, fears and fatigue that overwhelm me constantly. I will continue to walk down a road paved with financial and emotional worry. An unending journey that often leaves you feeling very lonely. Hopeless and alone. Alone in the decision making and future planning. Alone even when you’re not really alone.
This post is not for single parents, who can handle it. It is for single parents that can’t, but every single day choose to wake up and have another go, regardless.
And so I pray for all the moms and dads out there pulling off homework, hectic mealtimes, sickly night shifts, mental unending and weighty financial obligations; journeying alone with no sholder to lean on. Who like me, have no freaking idea what the future holds; are completely clueless, relying solely on hope. Hope that their dreams for their offspring will materialize sooner rather than later and that one day it will all stop being so damn hard!
I also pray for you men and women, who quietly yearn for life partners to journey with; who will accept you and your offspring, boldly stepping up to the plate if called upon. Partners with no hang ups; willing to selflessly love you and yours naturally and completely and with no inhibitions. Partners that will be a constant reminder that though you walk alone you are not alone.
In the meantime, we will continue to slay.