There are two sides to every story. This is mine.
It felt like a curse or some kind of disease when it happened. Everyone was pointing their finger at me and making derogatory comments. I felt so conflicted; it was the happiest and saddest time of my life. I was seventeen when it happened and alone. After meeting Paul and dating for about six months I got pregnant. I was scared, but at the same time that same year my parents got divorced, my brothers and sisters were in another part of the country and I was happy to have this child. The pregnancy went well and in September 1985 my daughter was born.
Here is an interesting look at Statistics today from Single Parent magazine.
I had no experience but I had so much love to give. I would often sneak in and grab her while she slept and sit in the rocking chair, feeling her little heart beating against me. It was hard to make ends meet. I worked hard and tried my best to manage. I definitely lacked some skills but love was always there. Statistics were of no help; they estimated that kids raised by single mothers were more likely to do drugs, commit crimes etc... These stats did not help in perpetrating a stigma and compounding the obstacles I had to face.
I struggled every step of the way, missing out on going out with friends, dating, pursuing my education. At one point I thought that my daughter would be better off with two parents. She was six years old and I was sinking financially when I got her involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and she ended up getting a nice young couple who would pick her up once a week and do things with her I couldn't afford. As I watched how happy she was, it was hard for me to selfishly want her to stay with me and miss out on so many things I couldn't afford to give her.
I said to her one day after one of these visits that if she wanted to have a mommy and daddy that was OK and that I wanted her to be happy. She turned to me and said, "Mommy, we're a team." I never questioned where she belonged after that. I wasn't alone in my struggle and I had a reason to hope for a better life. She was my reason for wanting more.
My Daughter and I spent Christmas driving around one year. I didn't have money and couldn't afford to buy her gifts so we drove around looking at all the lights on the homes. I made it fun for her as we sang songs along the way. When she lost her tooth and I didn't have money to put under her pillow, I told her the tooth fairy was in Vancouver and didn't make it back in time. The next day my father came over and put money under her pillow and on her bed posts. Being a single mother is doing a double job, it's about filling two roles, not forsaking one.
When I read statistics on single mothers, the only question I had is if we raise criminals and drug addicts is this not the father's fault, the one who choose to walk away? I agree a child needs two parents, but Single Mothers did not make children out of thin air, no matter if it was a one night stand or a long-term relationship. The mothers should be hailed as heroes for the responsibilities they willingly take and do to the best of their abilities.
Next time you meet a single mom on the bus, subway or streetcar, give her a smile or your seat or help with the stroller. It will go a long way to supporting her continuous effort. We are not perfect, but I didn't raise a criminal or drug addict and 99.9% of the people I know who are Single Moms have kids who are educated and part of the working force.
I think the statistics should choke on that.
Originally posted on my blog.
Photo Credit: miguelp001.