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WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT: SINGLE MOTHERHOOD

WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT: SINGLE MOTHERHOOD

The love of a mother for her children is a force so strong that when present, no task seems too big, no problem too daunting. Stories have been told time and time again of mothers of all ages, backgrounds, and even species putting their lives on the line for their children. Somehow, despite all this, single mothers are often ridiculed and villainized.


My mother often quotes an old African proverb that loosely translates to: ‘without a father you will stay in the rain, but without a mother you will go hungry and thirsty.’ The meaning of the adage is clear. Without a father, there will be some things missing, like shelter, but without a mother, you may not receive the essentials of life.


I have experienced this first-hand. Growing up, life in a single-parent household was not easy. We often lived paycheck to paycheck, and in-between we relied on the grace of God and the kindness of neighbors. My mother had to be everything. She was the main guiding hand in the lives of myself and my three siblings, as well as the main breadwinner. She was the Atlas of our lives, carrying the entire family’s well-being on her shoulders. Sometimes her knees would buckle, constantly her muscles ached, but she could not falter in her duties if she wanted her family to survive. It was through watching her that I learned two very important lessons in life: 1) that a strong will and good work ethic are essential to making it through life, and 2) that the world is not kind to single mothers.


My mother fought and continues to fight to keep my siblings and I on a path that will yield future peace and success for our lives. As she did and continues to do so, I see the world’s unkindness towards her. Cutting remarks about her having to raise her children by herself, people who believe they can give her children more than she can. Why is it that she is the bad guy when she’s the one who stayed?


According to an article by CNN, roughly one-third of American children are being raised by a single parent. A 2018 Pew Research Center study of data put out by the US Census Bureau shows that 81% of those parents are mothers.


The data shows that in cases not including the death of a partner, mothers are more likely to be the main providers in their children’s lives than fathers. Despite this, single mothers are continuously bashed by others, both online and in everyday life, simply for the fact that they have decided to stay and provide for their children. Terms such as ‘baby mama’, ‘well-fare queen’, and even the term ‘single mother’ itself are often used in a derogatory manner, as to insult and demean women who are raising children on their own.


Mothers are often looked at as the responsible party for their children, simply because they are the ones who gave birth to them. But, from watching my mother and having the privilege to be raised by her, I see that there is a difference between simply being a woman with children, and being a mother. To be a mother is to make a conscious choice to be there for your child. It is to understand and accept that you may not be thanked for what you do, but to do it anyways simply because of love. It is to overlook the vitriol and hurtful comments, to ignore the side eyes and whispers and to do what you have to do for your family to survive. In regards to being a single parent, Kate Winslet once said: “"You always have to carry on. And you can, because you have to." Being a single mother is hard, often thankless, and unforgiving, but for many women who find themselves in that position, none of that matters. Despite the antagonism of the world, they push forward. To be a single mother is to have true strength.










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