Appreciating Single Mums

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Ab Syahid examines the plight that single mothers face in today’s society.

(Image for illustration purposes only)

They are strong willed. Even on the darkest of days, they exude a certain brand of optimism and silent radiance that seems to shine from a beautiful place within their hearts.

But single mothers are sometimes looked down upon by various segments of society. It is common for onlookers, or should I say naysayers, to blindly pass judgement at the sight of a single mother. With preconceived notions fixed in their minds, critics pigeonhole single mums into distasteful categories. (Strangely enough, this practice rarely seems to occur with single fathers.) Although many of them live with this stigma, single mothers continue to trudge on bravely with their lives.

It is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions when a woman is no longer in love with the man she calls her husband. A house is not a home if love is not present, and healthy communication between the heads of a household needs to be present for love to be nurtured within the family.

Marriages falter and children often fall victim to the collateral damage of their parents’ failed relationship. Some would even argue that prolonged turmoil between a married couple affects their children more deeply than divorce does, causing them to carry troubling issues past their youth and into adulthood.

Parenting is a tough enough task for couples. But if you’re in it alone, it is a daunting challenge.

Sharifah Hamsani, a 29-year-old single mother, reflects on her divorce. ‘I knew I did the right thing. I couldn’t see myself faking my feelings for the rest of my life. He told me to think about our daughter, but I thought it through and asked him, “Do you really want our daughter to grow up in a home where love is not present?” We talked it over and decided to go through with it. Three years after, I have no regrets. My daughter and her future is all I think about constantly.’

Sharifah was a victim of a loveless marriage that lasted three years. She discloses the custody arrangement, stating that her ex-husband could see their daughter as and when he chooses. Despite this, Sharifah raises her almost independently. Her ex-husband has since remarried.

Call it a mother’s instinct or whatever, but my children are truly my inspirations

Other women simply don’t have the same luxury of youth or time to bounce back as swiftly from their failed marriages. Some of them were married for a long time and had multiple children before their marriages crumbled. Their husbands often find new love quickly, while they are left stranded without a plan.

Rose is a woman who experienced such turmoil. She managed to sweep it aside as if it had no effect on her, and raised five boys, then aged one to 16, on her own 10 years ago. She navigated the ever-changing landscape of her life with such grace a ballerina could only dream of. She admits that her eldest son, Ilham, helped her to ease the tension of raising five children on her own. After the divorce, her husband completely distanced himself from all of his fatherly responsibilities. Ilham had to grow up fast, and according to Rose, he quickly became the man of the house.

‘The first three years were pure hell for me, but every time I looked at their faces, something in me switched into turbo mode. Call it a mother’s instinct or whatever, but my children are truly my inspirations,’ says Rose, her voice starting to crack with emotion. ‘They get me going every single day. I had to pay bills, school fees, birthday celebrations but it was my pleasure. Checks bounced but we bounced back. Things happen for a reason. God is great. If things weren’t hard I don’t think we’d be who we are today. My kids are all grown up now and I’m not ashamed to say that they are the emblem of my existence. I let them define me.’

Rose’s divorce ten years ago was a revelation to her, but it turned out that new truths were being revealed along the way. On New Year’s Day in 2011, she got remarried to a man she had been dating for four years. He seamlessly took on the role of the father figure, loving the kids as though they were his own.

Rose could not be happier now, and she accepts that it was God’s will that got her to where she is today.

A single mother grabs arbitrary events in her life and makes sense of them all; I love and respect her for that. A single mother powers through obstacles to come out on top using nothing but the pure love and dedication she has for her children to keep her going; I love and respect her for that.

It is generally accepted that a mother should always be there for her children. Perhaps this is why single mums are often taken for granted and aren’t recognised for the struggles they endure. The truth is that they deserve accolades for surviving all the turbulence in their lives. To all the single mothers around the world, God bless your heart and may every last one of you find what you are looking for in life.

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