Many people realize that being a single parent is tough. Without that extra help of a father I found myself getting very stressed and not having many ways to relieve myself. I would cry at night, alone in my room, so that the children wouldn’t hear me.
Having my son at 17 was very trying as a single mother. I had to graduate school and support a child at a time when graduating was the normal top priority. I had to rely on my mother, my sister, my aunt, and my cousin for babysitting while I attended school, taking me to work, babysitting when I was at work, and even diapers.
After graduation I immediately started hunting for a full time job. Working at McDonald’s wasn’t going to pay the bills anymore. I knew I couldn’t rely on my family forever. They were all eager to help, but their priority was to get me through high school with a diploma.
Before my son was six months old I found myself working days at a factory and nights as a bartender. I rarely even saw my son as I worked six days a week and five nights a week. On the days when I would work both jobs I would sleep for two to four hours between getting home from the bar and leaving for the factory.
I had one babysitter for the day shift, and one for the night shift. I didn’t have any help from his father.
I made it through a better person, but it was hard. It wasn’t until I would have a second child that I would find out just how hard it could be.
After separating from my daughter’s father I had a good run of bad luck. I fell ill and missed a lot of work. I had to have surgeries, leading to more missed work, and no incoming paycheck. I eventually would lose my car and my house.
When my health was better I was able to land a great paying full time job. It was still sometimes hard to find a babysitter for the hours of overtime that were mandatory. I would again miss work, but the income even then was very livable.
Then came another good run of bad luck. On a snowy December day I went to drop my kids off at my friend’s house. She was going to watch them for me to work because I was about to embark on a 14-hour day. As I got closer to the block where she lived I saw smoke pouring out of the back of a house.
It was my friend’s house. I parked my truck and ran toward the house, not thinking at the time of the danger. I found my friend was shaken up, but not hurt. Everyone else in the house was out and safe, except a cat and a dog. The dog would appear out of nowhere in a short time, but the cat didn’t make it. Everything she and her family had ever owned was gone, including the house.
I called off work that day, for obvious reasons. Given the circumstances I was able to get my sister to pick up my children so that I could be there for my friend. That entire evening I tried to find someone to take over babysitting for me full time. I didn’t have much luck.
I was able to find someone that could take the kids on certain days, but I ended up missing work often and not being able to rely on anyone. I eventually lost my job, again, for missing time.
The woes of a single mother, or any single parent, are many. I am now married but have not forgotten what it was like in those uncertain times. The anxiety is immense as every little mishap could send your entire structured schedule out of control.
In many of my hardest times as a single mother I didn’t have anyone to turn to for help with the problems I was facing. No one was going to be able to make me heal faster so that I could lift my daughter. After my hysterectomy I had to rely on my son, who was only about seven years old, to change his baby sister’s diapers.
When the children got sick I couldn’t take them to a babysitter. They friends who often watched my children so I could work had children of their own. They couldn’t afford for their children to get sick either, and many day cares will not allow a sick child in the facility.
Having a second adult in the house is a great weight lifted off of my shoulders. We are better able to handle situations of illness and money as a team and as a family that I would have never been able to manage as a single mother.