“No one can be a single parent, and likewise, no one can alone bring a child into this world.”…Shoshana Alexander
A young twenty four year old girl who just finished college should have nothing but her whole life to look forward to. A girl who just got a job as an aide in an elementary school, has many friends and a family who loves her. She is a girl who loves to hang out and be as normal and free as a twenty-four-year-old should be. But she has come to the conclusion that life has been so stressful that she can’t even stop to smell the roses and see the scenery.
One day she looked at the calendar in her New Haven apartment and said, “Wow, I have not had my period for a few months now.” She decided to go visit her mom and get some advice about what she should do. So the next day they made a doctor’s appointment, only to find out that she was indeed pregnant. The doctor couldn’t tell her how long, since she didn’t specialize in that field, and told her to go over to have an ultrasound. On the ride over, they sat side by side in silence. She couldn’t believe how she had missed this. A million questions went through her mind. She came to the conclusion that she wasn’t going to freak out until she had the ultrasound and knew all the facts. While she was lying on her back, talking to the doctor, all she could think about was how nervous she was and how she had this knot in her stomach. She started to freak out, toned the doctor’s voice out, and felt a cold sensation on her stomach. The doctor told her she was five months along. Next, the doctor asked her if she wanted to know the sex of the baby. She just looked at her Mom’s face while her eyes lit up and said, “yes sure.” When they heard that she was having a girl, joy came over her face. Then the doctor told her, “Your daughter is playing peek a boo on the monitor.” She became very excited and knew right then and there that she Carey-2
was going to keep the baby.
Being so ecstatic, she had completely forgotten about the fact that it didn’t take just her to make this baby. She called the father and every ring tone she heard she got a gut-wrenching pain in her stomach. Finally, a “Hello” came from the other end of the phone. Her mouth moved but no sound came out. After a few minutes of silence, she just came out and said, “I‘m pregnant.” It took the father a day or so to process this. His advice was, “Well, it’s all up to you. It’s your body and therefore your decision.” She responded, “I’m keeping the baby.” He said , “ There wasn’t anything that was going to change your mind,” she never heard from him again.
For this paper two single mothers were interviewed. During these talks, they were both very scared and reserved. Their thoughts of earlier struggles were frightening. Their bodies tensed up and even trembled a bit. The mothers looked down to the ground. The months of their pregnancies were very emotional for them. As the interviews went on, joy and smiles appeared on their faces. The love that they were feeling as they talked about their children now was evident. As the interviews progressed, their bodies relaxed as they told stories. Both single mothers have struggled and sacrificed, but they believe strongly that these difficulties were worth while, both for them and their children’s.
Becoming a single parent is a life altering choice. A parent doesn’t choose to do it alone, it is how life plays itself out. This is how the cards are dealt. Raising a child alone is a sacrifice a parent has to make. Usually one of the parents, often the father, chooses not to be part of the child’s life, and leaves the other one to raise the child alone. Before she is pregnant no mother can imagine herself as a single parent; she usually imagines being married, in a house, with a successful job.
“ The feeling of being blessed to witness the beauty of a blossoming child yet mourn the absence of a partner to share it with”…Shoshanna Alexander “Parenting alone is our mountain to climb.”…The twenty-four-year-old girl
After the baby is born reality sets in. One of the first things that single mother realizes is that her dreams are shattered. She asks herself, “How am I going to survive this situation?” A single mother asks herself, “How can I do the best job…give my child what it needs…love it enough for two… and how do I explain about the other parent… how do I manage the double roles?…and how will my child turn out…and will we make it together?” These are a real parent’s concerns.
A women thinks that one of the hardest aspects of being a single parent is the decision to become one in the first place. In most situations, it’s not her active choice and it impacts her much more than the father. Both women who were interviewed agreed. This decision is a very painful and emotional one. The decision is an agonizing battle with herself over what’s best for her and the child. It is a life-changing decision. A woman has to be one hundred percent committed to the child for the rest of her life. This is a conscious choice she as a woman has to make often alone.
Being a strong parent and doing her best is one of the most important things for her and the child. Being there for her child is also very rewarding. Just seeing her daughter crawl for the first time or hearing her speak her first word…“mama” is enough to make her cry. How does she do her best job? By waking up every day and showing her child that it is possible and that life moves forward. She needs to keep a consistent schedule with her child because that’s how she feels safe. If there is chaos and no routine, then the Carey-4
child feels out of place or out of sorts. It is all about balancing work, school, childcare, meals etc. How does she manage or balance, well, that’s the difficult part. Some parent’s find this very hard to deal with and will turn to support groups and or families for help.
In the long run, the best way to see if she is doing her best is by knowing that her positive attitude is rubbing off on her child and that she sees improvements and growth instead of negative behavior. Being a good single parent her attention is all on her child and therefore she has to have no distractions. As one single mother said, “ I have not been on a date for over a year.” She gives her child all the love she needs and all the tools in life to mature and grow. Some parents think that being a good parent means giving their child what they want but that’s not true. The parent needs to understand that she wants to be a good parent but if she gives her child everything she asks for she’s not teaching her morals and values. All she’s doing is teaching her how to be spoiled. As a single parent, others usually think that all she has to the child, so why not give in and make her happy by buying whatever she requests. Being a good parent means raising the child the correct way. By this single mother means teaching the child right from wrong, manners, and values. That’s what makes a good parent. All children need love and affection, basic necessities, but not luxuries.
As a parent, a woman has to make the right choices no matter what, because the child looks up to her. She must picture her daughter copying her while she’s putting on make up or her son trying to help her fix a car. The child learns and copies what it sees.
The sacrifices that a single parent makes are unbelievable. A young parent sacrifices her youth and has to grow up fast. She can’t go out and party or have dates. By Carey-5
the time her kids are older, she will be a smarter and more mature person and will have no need to party. Later gets a bit easier, cause the child doesn’t need the mother as much and understands that she needs one-on-one adult conversations.
Another sacrifice is a career. A single mother usually has to work more than one job to make ends meet and at the same time has to make quality time for her child. It’s a balance and choice she has to negotiate. Some parents have lost their jobs because of their kids’ needs. For example, if the child is sick, then the parent has to take time off from work and their boss can frown upon this. Every day is a financial struggle. The parent is sacrificing what could have been. She can’t say “Oh, I need that pair of shoes for work,” because she needs to have money for formula and diapers.
A single parent feels the burden of having to fill a void in her child’s life. She has the burden of being both parents. It is optional to have a good relationship with both mother and father. A child really misses having two parents under one roof, but gets everything else, going places and doing things just like any “normal” family.
Often, the children of a single parent will turn out great. “The 19.7 million children in this country with delinquent or absent fathers are not all headed for lives of crime, drugs poverty and prison,” said Michele Weldon. “Just look at Michael Phelps, Bill Cosby, President Obama and even Bill Clinton: all very successful leaders and great role models. People in the “norm” consider single parents as failures, judged them harshly and usually believe they are on welfare.” On the contrary, the two interviewees are more motivated and stronger, because they only have themselves to blame for their mistakes if their children don’t turn out right.
These two mothers are a lot happier being single because they don’t have to ask and check with anyone for things or for approval. A single parent often has more drive, because she feels as she has bigger shoes to fill. The question is, will she make it and the answer is yes, because of that drive she has inside her. A child can be a great motivator and a parent wants her child to look up to her, therefore she does well.
Raising children alone is one of the most difficult tasks any human being might take on. It is a difficult decision but one a parent will often not regret. It is very over whelming and very stressful but the outcome of another life is one of the greatest joys and pleasures a parent could have. These two single mothers agree. They believe that all children should have two parents in their lives, whether they are together or apart. Single mothers are some of the bravest women alive. They are extraordinary people. They all have choices and have to live with the consequences. This is how they learn and grow as individual.
Now, the twenty-four-year-old girl is twenty-six. She is still struggling and has many difficulties but she wouldn’t change a thing. Everything she sacrificed was all worth while. Her and her daughter take things day by day and slowly. “ Life and or future has been planned for us and bumps and curves appear to test us in our lives in many circumstances.” …Shoshana Alexander