Single Motherhood

Delores Leonard (R) helps her daughter Erin with her homework at the breakfast table before heading to work at a McDonald's Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, September 25, 2014. Leonard, a single mother raising two daughters, has been working at McDonald's for seven years and has never made more than minimum wage. Picture taken September 25, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR4AK5P

A son could look up in awe at a billion stars spread across the evening sky, but never find a love as abundant as his mother’s. A daughter could sneak into her mother’s jewelry box and play with diamond necklaces and earrings, but never find a single one as brilliant or everlasting as her mother’s love. A baby could toddle and fall as he takes his first steps, and no embrace could be as soothing or comforting than his mother’s as she picks him up.

A few months after my mother passed away, my father said to me, “I could die tomorrow, but I assure you, there is no greater pain in this world than losing a mother.  There is something pure and almost divine about a mother’s love and her bond with her child that even the best father may never truly experience or be able to compete with.”  It’s these conversations I had with my father that continue to reinforce my appreciation and reverence for single mothers in a society that seems to belittle, undermine, and question their ability to be great parents.

I am not saying there aren’t some terrible single mothers out there, nor am I proclaiming that remarkable co-parenting fathers do not exist.  I am not here to debate about the baby conceived from a one night stand, nor do I feel like drifting into a argument about reproductive responsibility, contraception and how some people should know when to stop having kids. I don’t feel like bashing on baby daddies today, nor am I here to argue about whether or not Octomom is mentally stable.  I’m here to simply say that we are a society that at times does not fairly consider or sincerely appreciate the reality of being a single mother.  We see this lack of understanding and empathy in our politics as pundits like Ann Coulter attack single mothers.  We see this in our unique and respective cultural and religious ideals across the world. We see this in entertainment on shows like Teen Mom as young expecting mothers are exploited, and their struggles paraded in front of millions.  We see this in the workplace and corporate world, a place where a woman can be passed over for promotion, be demoted, or even lose her job for going on maternity leave or taking a day off to take care of a sick child.

I’d like to believe that every child is a gift, and if my belief is correct, then surely every mother, single or taken, has indeed been blessed.  An individual and society that insists otherwise in its behavior and attitude is unsettling and void of compassion. If there is anything I’ve learned from observing my single parent friends and family, and being a new parent myself is that they should be celebrated for their emotional and mental resilience, untiring dedication, and their unwavering and unconditional love.

Sincerely, Kwapi Vengesayi

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