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Opinions of Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Columnist: Ramat Suleman

The hardship of being a single mother

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By Ramat Suleman

When I was in primary three, my class teacher asked the pupils in my class who they wanted to be in future. If it was an election, the medical doctor would have pulled an inarguably considerable amount of votes.

When it got to my turn, I stood up, smiled and said to my teacher; ‘I want to be my mother. The entire class upon hearing this burst into laughter. I didn’t even know why I said that.

Years on, I still want to be my mother, and by the time I finish explaining why, you will totally agree with me.

Coming from a community where some parents at the time did not give priority to giving their female wards secular education, she stood against all odds to ensure that my sisters and I had quality education.

The most amazing thing about this was how a woman who had not gone beyond primary two could see the essence of education and singlehandedly collapse all rocks and mountains standing in her way to ensure a better life for her children despite being in and out of trade.

Twenty-three years after my father’s death, I know he has been smiling all these years because he left a strong woman to cater for his household. He couldn’t have gone for a better wife.

A full notebook will not be enough to describe her strength.

I know my mother is not alone in this. There are a lot more outstanding single mothers who have and are going through thick and thin to secure better lives for their children. I am talking about women who have denied themselves the pleasure of life for the sake of their children’s happiness and future.

Today, I want you to know that we are what we are because God chose you to be our guides knowing how rough the journey will be for us at some point. We couldn’t have asked for better mothers.

To the single mothers who have lost fathers of their children due to death or any other mishappening, I will tell you what my mother told me when I asked her how she sailed through. She said to me, ‘ instil the fear of God in the child, teach them to be content with what they have right from childhood, and most importantly pray, pray, and pray to the Almighty God for whose reason we all exist’.

I know the road will not be easy; but that’s the beauty of it all. Knowing that your hardwork has finally dug out that shiny rock will make you realise how it was worth it after all. The sleepless nights because you don’t know where the next meal will come from shall pass.

The heartaches of not being able to pay your wards’ school fees or hospital bills, or money for books will soon be a thing of the past. The unpleasant feeling of lying to the child or pretending to be overprotective because you don’t have that money to pay for them to join their friends on that excursion they long awaited for will just be a memory.

The ‘dagger in the chest’ feeling you get because they run home to tell how they wish they were their classmates or neighbours at home because their parents always buy them gifts; gifts that you cannot afford. It may feel like forever; but I assure you; it will be over in a blink. Just stay strong and be assertive.

I once bumped into my mother shedding tears. When I asked her what was wrong, she laughed at me and denied she was crying by giving some excuses. I let it go, but deep down I knew all was not well. However, they are all stories to be told today; she nailed it exactly on the spot. She didn’t just do it; she encouraged others to do it as well.

Now, to children whose single mothers are making such efforts, it will be nonsense for you to push boiling water down their throats. Don’t make their lives harder than they are already, because apart from God, they rely on you to carry on.

Knowing that there is someone who appreciates them is something that can fuel the efforts. If she gives you her last and you think it’s not enough, don’t make her feel worse than she already feels.

Let her know how much you appreciate her and what she has been doing even if you are not happy deep down. Do you remember how she had to go and loan money from her friend and how she was embarrassed publicly because she missed the deadline for repayment? Do you remember how she had to lose her most expensive personal belongings and family treasure because she used them as collaterals when she urgently needed to satisfy your needs?

When she needed to make sure she had to ensure a secure future for you? You may not have known all these because she didn’t want you to worry. She just needed to see the smile of appreciation and all her worries would vanish.

Allow me to tell you one relevant step you can take to get realise your dreams and that of your single mothers; you don’t compare yourself to the people around you. Don’t beat yourself up for not having what they have, after all you have something they may not have- a mother ready to push you to greater heights.

Be content with who you are and strive to be the better person you want to be. It is up to you to make your situation motivate you instead of weaken your spirit. That way, you will find yourself in places you have never imagined yourself to be.

Meanwhile, whiles you prepare for that future, make life a lot easier for your single mothers by loving and appreciating them.

To the society, the least we can do is to let these women know we recognise their bravery and strength. They made good citizens out of their children the hard way. They could have left them to become nuisance in the society by not pushing harder. Yet, they knew better and did the right thing.

The media should never get tired of giving them the platform to tell their stories so as to encourage other single mothers. Those who have the voice in our communities should celebrate these women. Let the world know about them and the odds they had to go against. Stories like theirs encourage others in ways that you can never imagine. Their efforts deserve to be highlighted. It will lighten up the spirit of others and of course be of tremendous help that not even money can afford.

Indeed it is hard to grow up without a father, but if you have a mother who plays both roles excellently, it makes it super easy. And it makes you forget the word ‘orphan’.

Until I become a mother myself, I am going to hold onto my dream of becoming MY MOTHER. To my future husband, trust me, being her is the best thing you can ever wish for in a wife. I will support you, and we will grow old together and watch our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren grow before us in our enviable home by the grace of Almighty God.

Long live our single mothers. May God bless your efforts and keep you going.