When I was a teenager and asked my mum for school money she would say ‘I don’t have a penny to my name’ and I thought she meant that she didn’t have any change. It was only until I became a single mother myself that I understood the term literally meant that you are broke. I then learned that no matter how the media try to depict the tales of single parenthood, the reality of it can never truly be portrayed. You have to be in it to understand the heavy burden, the fatigue and the rollercoaster of emotions that the life of a single mother brings. There are times when you become so burnt out from your many roles that it brings you to your knees. The amount of times I have wanted to give up and simply just quit is countless. When I say give up I do not mean jump off a bridge, I mean give in to the fight of my journey to success.
My time at university was a prime example of the struggle. My son did not begin sleeping through the night until he was around two (bare in mind that I began university when he was 9 months old). I would be up until all hours trying to complete essays, as it was impossible to get it done within my daily regime. My son would usually wake during my time of study, I would feed him and then spend hours getting him back to sleep. After catching a couple hours sleep myself I would get up, sort my daughter for school, drop my son to my mum’s and then head off to university. I was like a Zombie throughout my first year and this reflected in my grades during my first semester. I was receiving 3rd’s for my essay’s, which was putting extreme pressure on my emotional state. I felt like a failure and was too exasperated to fight any other belief. I confided in my sister about it: “I’m going to quit, I’m not getting the grades I want and it’s far too difficult with the kids,” I complained. My sister was sympathetic. She had completed a degree in the past and understood the implications of managing studies. Quitting was, however, not an option and she advised me to seek help from learning support..
During this period I was at the peak of disgruntled emotions with my sons father. He had seen our son a handful of times since our break up. Instead he went off to live and work in the Philippines for three months leaving me with a pack of nappies, a box of milk and mistakenly his bank receipt with almost three grand in his account. His actions left me in a desperate, anxious and fearful state for ours sons future. I was angry and bitter and would curse him out whenever he decided to call or if I was lucky enough to lay eyes on him once he returned. It was not so much the fact that he never offered any financial assistance although he clearly had money, it was his absence that got to me. We had planned to create a life together and he one day decided it actually was not what he wanted, and just like that he turned his back and walked away. Inevitably God designed for two people to conceive a child, so why would he then decide that the job of raising our child should fall upon my shoulders? What society and judgemntal people need to understand is that, a single mother has to maintain the role of two people. We have to love our child/children twice as hard, provide for them twice as hard, nurture them twice as hard. Everything has to be done double the dose. Which inevitably means we have to play the role of two people.
There are many different reasons why we become single mothers, making it unjust to tarnish everyone with the same brush. However, whatever reason brought you to the situation, we face similar battles no matter what class, race or creed you come from. When it comes to the ultimate struggle, we all know ‘IT IS REAL’. I am sure you can relate or have experienced ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’, skipping meals to ensure your child/children do not go hungry, going without gas or electricity, watching bills stack up and having no idea how they will be paid. The list could go on forever. The sacrifices we make on a daily basis can not be praised enough and no award can compensate. Any single mother reading this please take a moment to tell yourself, ‘despite my situation I am doing a great job’.
Things eventually got better with university, my grades improved drastically I went from thirds to first within a short period. Looking back now I have no idea how because things got worse between me and my sons father, he was still not playing a role in our son’s life and would go missing for months at a time – playing mind games in between. Saying he is coming only to do a no show, that type of stuff. His new blonde bombshell and Cityboy lifestyle was far more important than his flesh and blood. I was heartbroken and after a long day studying and sorting out the children, I would callasp in exhaustion and breakdown. The worst times were when my son was sick or unsettled, I would gaze around the dim lit room desperate for some rest and think, God give me strength… And he did…
Because during what I recall some of the most testing times of my life, I was excelirating. I was learning, growing and rebuilding my soul daily. Physically, mentality and spiritually I was getting stronger. No matter how hard it got, deep down in my core I had Hope. I had hope that ‘this shall pass’ and things will get better, which they did. As the child/children get older things will get easier and you will have more time for yourself. The time will come again when you begin to remember who you are… The broken smile will eventually turn into laughter. I know this because I have been through it.
Things had calmed down with my sons father, he began showing an interest in our son and we were in the process of working out contact. Unfortunately for him, his past and malicious ways caught up with him and he was given a 30 months custodial sentence. He had not laid eyes on our son in a year and would now not see him for a further year and a half. It was devastating for me as I was looking forward to having breaks and time to myself, but the idea of freedom was quickly robbed from my mind.
Once I graduated things kicked off with my writing career, I Co-wrote and Produced my first short film and had my theatre production showcased for two weeks. Then things slowed down and I began frivolously looking for work. I must have sent off over 100 applications and nothing. I was forced to go on benefits. See I have nothing against benefits as without it millions of mothers and children would be homeless because we all know that Deadbeats do not pay for their children, but I also believe the system is a deadly trap to get stunk in. In the past from when I was a single parent at 21 I have always worked or ran my own business and found it extremely difficult to survive on benefits. My mum set a good example for us, because although she raised seven of us alone she always worked. During this time I can honestly say I felt the strain financially and the struggle got even more real.
I have never been one to be down for long and no matter the obstacles that come my way, I will find a solution to get around it. I used the difficult times to reflect on my life and mine and children’s future. I decided I would follow my dreams and use my talents to set up a business A Scott Productions. I am also currently in the process of producing my feature film ABSENT, that I wrote inspired from my absent parent experiences and a short film IT STILL HURTS. Recently, I have been accepted onto a business programme where they will help fund and support my business venture. My only advice is, yes we all know about how real the single parent struggle is, but when your backs against the wall… Keep pushing.
I am putting my struggles and strife out there in hope to inspire others. I want single mothers to know how special they are. I want you to know that no matter how incompetent you may feel at times, you are doing a great job. At the end of the day it is all about what you are willing to struggle for and for me I will struggle to the bitter end for my children and to ensure that I am pursuing my dreams and living my life’s purpose. No matter how hard it gets always remember that ‘struggles are required in order to survive in life, because in order to stand up, you got to know what falling down feels like’.
Written by Aysha Scott Edited by Badria Ahmed