Yesterday was the Cape Town Carnival.
We are lucky in that we live on the main road and can simply pop downstairs and plonk ourselves on the grass to watch. After a hellish week of double shifts I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to climb into bed and zone out. Unfortunately my youngest was sparking with delight at the thought of the carnival so we decided to hit the local shop for snacks.
On the way there I noticed another mom, about my age, sitting alone on the side of the road with her young son. They had found themselves a quiet spot in the chaos and had taken a few bricks and made little seats to watch the show. In the middle of the laughter and partying here was a little family sitting all alone, content, but all alone.
As we walked towards them the mom looked at me and then at my daughter and smiled, and I smiled back. She looked as exhausted as I felt, and they looked as alone as we were. In a world of busy, I had stumbled across myself.
I had been recently told that my daughter and I spend all our time together and that it’s unhealthy. I was told to get a life, make new friends, get out more etc, etc. but looking at this mommy, I knew if we spoke, such things wouldn’t even come up.
In an ideal life, there’s a mom and a dad, siblings, pets and a house with a white picket fence. For single mothers, life is a bit different. We work till we drop, trying to keep our kids fed and cared for. We lose touch with friends because we have no particular time or energy or even interest in such pursuits. Everything we do, we do alone. It’s very seldom by choice, we simply do the best we can with what we have.
It is perhaps not the healthiest situation, but it’s certainly better than the adultery, abuse or neglect that forced us into these solitary lives in the first place.
Being a single parent is the hardest thing in the world.
For those of you that are tempted to criticize – DON’T!
Until you have walked in our shoes you have no idea of the sacrifice, the strength and the passion that it takes to ensure that your children are cared for.
If you feel overwhelmed by the need to express your views to a single mom, make sure you include an offer to babysit or an invitation to a nice barbecue. After all if you consider that you know better, you should also be prepared to do better.
And to all the single moms out there – keep doing the best you can for your babies. Don’t be bowed down by the cruelty of the ignorant. Continue being brave and true, your children will benefit in the end and that’s all that matters.
and to my own personal detractors……………..