My Perspective on Single, Southern Mamas
As I have begun my journey as a mother, I have found the manner in which single, pregnant women are perceived by many to be incredibly disturbing. Though the social stigma is waning throughout much of the US, I have been subjected first hand to derogatory comments from many here in the South. I will never quite understand why women are looked down upon for their sexual relationships, but men are praised for their equivalent actions. I have witnessed this from a young age, too - I am the product of a single mother and am in the process of becoming one myself.
I would like, just for a moment, to invite you to fit your own feet into my shoes: during a recent shopping trip, I ran into an old acquaintance who was accompanied by his mother. As we were gabbing, they noticed that I was pregnant, and, like anyone, began asking questions about the baby. When they asked about the baby’s father, I informed them that the dad was, unfortunately no longer in the picture, and that this was not by my choice, but by his own. Rather than sympathizing, or simply steering the conversation in another direction, they both agreed that my statement was highly doubtful, and that I was simply being selfish - it is his daughter, too, right? Together, they concluded that I am a floozy and should not deny my daughter a relationship with her father. Neither of these folks have their PhD in counseling, but yet they felt comfortable diagnosing the ins and outs of my relationship with my child’s father and, in addition, what was best for my developing family. However, neither stopped to consider the fact that my daughter’s father was an abusive alcoholic, and though he made a personal decision to continue his life without acknowledging his child, I was the one whose character was questioned in that store. Not the man’s character, but the woman’s.
I can’t begin to describe the rage and confusion I felt - I am simply unable to comprehend how any person could ever consider attacking somebody’s character without first considering the dynamics of the situation. I, like many single mothers, am better off without my child’s father, and it was not my choice for him to leave in the first place. I have begun to think about other women, and how they have been chalked up in the eyes of others. I can recall multiple female friends who have gone through the same situation as I have, and the way they have been treated is simply unfair. One such friend of mine became a single mother at the age of eighteen and was ridiculed by her fellow peers. She battled with her daughter’s father when it came to custody agreements, and whether or not it would be beneficial (for the child) for them to stay together. I watched her struggle working sometimes up to three jobs, all so she could provide for her daughter without asking for handouts. I also watched my own mother break her back making ends meet because my dad was not around. Women are the ones who carry children in the womb, take care of them, and stay up endless nights, forfeiting their own sleep for their child’s. Women should not constantly be looked down upon if they are not married when they have children, while men are high fived for it. It is high time for a change in the way women, especially single mothers, are perceived in society.
What I hope other women learn from this is to throw their shame to the wind. Growing up, I felt more love from my mama than most children felt from both parents combined. If you are a single mother reading this, I want you to know you are an amazing woman, and you are doing the best you can; I am proud of you for that. Your children are proud of you and are thankful for everything you do. One day, all of the hard work you have done, and everything you have gone through will not be taken for granted. Some say it takes a village to raise a child, and you are not alone in this; I promise. Contrary to the remarks of society, thank you for everything that you do. You are a gem!