Being a single mom wasn’t what Sola bargained for when she fell in love and got pregnant for her secondary school sweetheart, Bode. They had been together forever and everyone thought they were going to end up married to each other. They also thought so.
However, things changed along the line and each party had to go their separate ways. A few years out of secondary and admission into a university still elusive for the two of them, I guess they had too much time on their hands to indulge in sexual activities, as a protruding stomach was the next thing we saw. Sola had gotten pregnant! Sola’s parents weren’t happy and they sent her packing to her boyfriend’s parents’ house, where we met, as her new “in-laws” and I were neighbours.
She had a fairly easy pregnancy, but the labour and childbirth were another matter altogether. She spent three days in labour before the families finally agreed to a C-section; both sets of parents were freaking out over the fact that it was the first time someone close to them was having a c-section.
Finally, she had the baby and stayed in the hospital for five more days, which did not sit well with them, as it meant a higher bill for them and the baby daddy was still struggling.
That baby is close to three years old now, but she and Bode did not last another three years.
There was a time Bode got accommodation and they lived as a family. She got a job and it was obvious they were trying to make lemonade out of the lemons life had thrown at them, but early this year, Sola officially became a single parent. Her mother especially and many other people took pleasure in reminding her that she was yet to be a wife in the family.
How much premium they placed on her manifested during the wedding ceremony of Bode’s older brother, who had gotten a lady pregnant and had gone ahead to pay her dowry and marry her. It was exactly the same thing that had happened between her and Bode, but with a different outcome.
Sola did not attend the wedding of her babydaddy’s older brother, and I knew the battle line had been drawn. If her man and his family were not going to marry her, then she was done being with them. Sola and I saw briefly after the wedding and it was pretty clear she was still angry about the hand she had been dealt. And by the time she touched on her experience in living with her in-laws, it was clear where we were wasn’t the right place for that discussion; how was I going to deal with a sobbing young woman?
Anyways, her experience prompted this article. It’s not easy being a single parent, either by choice or accident, because this parenting business isn’t easy in the first place and then a single parent has to be both set of parents in one person. Honestly, the Lord is our strength. Some of the things you don’t say to a single mom are below. If you can’t but say these things, it might be a good idea to just keep quiet and keep smiling.
- “You should have thought of that before you had kid(s):
I’m almost pretty sure Sola heard this comment a lot, especially from her mother and older sister (whom I believe took pleasure in seeing her suffer). If she ever dared to complain about something, they were quick to tell, her, “O bat i ro ye n tele, ko to, gbe’ra le fun Bode,” meaning, “You should have thought about that before you had sex with Bode.” It was a crude reminder of her choices years ago, that had resulted in a grandchild and nephew that they loved.
Now, this is personal for me. I just feel like she might as well have no family, given the support that these people gave her.
The honest truth is, whatever it is a single parent is struggling with (dating, divorce proceedings, getting enough sleep), she is probably looking for you to say something supportive, not self-righteous or condemning. It might seem commonsensical to some people and, worse, funny, but it’s probably best to take your comedy in a different direction. Thank you.
- My husband is the worst!
Really? Does he sleep at home? Do your children get to play with him anytime they want? Does he pay bills for those children? Does he emotionally abuse you and is unfaithful to you? Does he even, at any time, give you some respect?
If your answers are more of No than Yes, then you can claim to know a bit about what a single mom is going through.
If it’s the other way round, kindly look for someone else to offload on about your uncooperative partner.
- “Maybe your life will be [easier/better/more fulfilling] if you got married/married again.”
Since when did marriage become a solution to everything that ails the single mom? She is single for a reason; it did not work out with the father of her child(ren), at least, that is the gist in most cases.
Even if marriage is the solution, there is still the pesky business of finding a man who wouldn’t mind dating and marrying a single mom, and you can’t order that off these online market stores, like Emma Nyra recently threatened to do.
- You need to prioritise more
This is simply a case of pot calling kettle black. No matter how much of the legendary floodlights the mind of a woman is on, we all still struggle to do everything expected of us, which is where our support systems come in.
A single mom’s support system is already decimated and you telling her to prioritise is simply not been helpful. Be warned because you will get either of these reactions; tears of her own or your own tears, given the kind of massacre she will give you with her eyes or with her words.
For your information, which she is not expected to give you, she caters for herself, her kids, gets involved in what they are involved in, keeps the boss happy, stops the landlord from knocking on her door for his rent, all of which are very important jobs and no one else to pick up the slack should she fail. That’s her reality, so you see why there are so many things juggling for number one spot in her life.
Don’t say you weren’t warned. If you cannot help, keep walking like Johnnie Walker, don’t judge.
Now, don’t get the impression that all single moms are harried wrecks whose reactions are unpredictable, because they aren’t. Like all mothers, they also like to hear words like, “You’re a great mom!” “By the way, you look amazing today.” (even though in your mind, you knew the bags are under your eyes from having to wake up at 4am every day to get a start on the day… but who doesn’t like compliment?)
Even a simple, “How are you doing today?” is fine. Again, if you can’t be bothered to be nice, don’t bother.
Single moms, I hail you, and Godspeed on this parenting journey.
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