I am my daughter’s primary caregiver. Well, to be real, I am her only caregiver. She and I are up here in Minnesota while her father is living his life in Tennessee and Georgia. His financial support keeps her in clothing and diapers, etc. But the kindness of others keeps a roof over our heads since I don’t make enough money for rent.
There’s a good chance that when you hear “single mama”, you think of a woman who works while her child is in daycare or school, or perhaps while her child is sleeping. You know her life is hard by default. There are simply certain expectations for single mamas in our society.
Above (most) all, single mamas are expected to work their tails off to provide for their offspring. They are seen as breadwinner and nurturer, Amazonian super women who do it all in the absence of a man or partner. And it seems to me that something in our society says it should be that way, particularly if we have had children out of wedlock. Then on the other hand society says women can do or be anything and everything.
I am going to be very honest with you. I am not every woman. I cannot do everything. Nor do I want to. Really, what I want is to be a good mama. The mama I was created to be. The kind of mama who doesn’t settle or back down without a fight.
You see, I never knew whether or not I was a maternal “type”. I wasn’t sure that I could love a baby more than the man who had left me pregnant and alone. But this life happened and I made it through the first year without her father. I swiftly learned what was important to me as a mother and I vowed that money wasn’t going to get in the way.
To all the well-meaning folks who encourage me to face reality and accept my lack of choice as a single mom who isn’t independently wealthy, I must be a fool. But I am not afraid to say this is who I am. I am not everything. I do not multitask SO well that I can do it all.
I need to be PRESENT for my daughter. That is my choice right now. Even though I’m not yet back on my feet and earning a livable wage. Even though I don’t have a home for us.
We have moved many times since pregnancy. Crashing on couches and air mattresses, ocassionally having our own room. For the past 6 months we have been living in the home of a couple who generously had space to share. It has been wonderful and peaceful in many ways. And we now need a new home again as this couple is selling their home.
So I get to ask myself once again if I am doing the right thing. If I am lazy. If I am mom enough.
And then I see my daughter’s smile. I see her eyes light up and her tears subside when I return from even a short trip away from her. And I realize that I am working for the very best thing in the world–she, and the mama I am compelled to be with her.
That is what makes me believe we will be okay, even if getting back on my feet progresses on a less than timely schedule which I would like and still others disapprove.
Being the best mom YOU are compelled to be, is mom enough. I may not be able to “do it all”, yet my baby girl needs ME, and that makes all of this time of need worth it.