Being a single mother can be extremely difficult and exhausting with hardly any time to you. Before you shuffle between work and other details for the baby such as the vaccination schedule, the many fevers, various infections and trips to the emergency room, little time is left for crying over spilled milk literally.
In days gone by, single mothers in Nigeria belonged to either of three categories; the first category was widows, second category was divorcees and the third category was wayward ladies. In today’s Nigeria, single mothers are not necessarily wayward, divorced or widowed; we now have elites, highly educated, young beautiful women who are proud single mothers as many of them are career women, financially independent and focus maintaining top rank positions.
In the United States, especially among the African American population, there’s a ‘baby mama’ boom. ‘Baby Mama’ is an American slang for describing single mothers, many are divorcées, others never married, and a very small population of them is widows or wives of convicts. In order to know the number of single mothers spread around the globe, you need to watch some of the award shows, whenever an artiste comes on stage to receive an award, be sure that he or she is going to give thanks to God, ‘my mama’ or ‘my grandma’, hardly do you ever hear ‘daddy’.
Majority of Nigerian and African urban societies, no matter how educated or civilised it has become, still looks down on single mothers. Nigerian single mothers who belong to the lower social economic class of the society have already accepted their fate in good faith; most of them just go about their low key life style. Most of them are petty traders who just do their business and fade into the crowd, taking care of their child or children back home.
The modern independent Nigerian single mother on the other hand still wants to be seen and heard, you could see her rocking night clubs with friends, attending social events, her kid in an expensive school, and basically she’s living life to the fullest. Like someone will say, most single mothers today want to nurse their children and wear their suits as well. One thing most single mothers crave for whether they admit it or not is the presence of a permanent male companion in their life. Independent single mothers, though outwardly present a strong character and personality but they are actually very vulnerable when it comes to matters of the heart.
Oh wait; did we all forget how most moms become single moms? Right, at one point there was a man… and then there wasn’t. But for some reason the headlines don’t typically frame the story that way.
And just because women are the ones who physically carry the child, doesn’t mean they are getting pregnant without the active participation of a male. (Yes, there are women that decide to deliberately have children on their own — but that is not what this article is talking about.)
I can’t help but think that the way we frame single motherhood and neglect to mention absent father is one of the most extreme forms of gender discrimination that exists today. And because of it, not only is the single mom typically left to pick up the pieces of the broken home and figure out how to put a life together for herself and her child(ren), the pressure of that is compounded by the extremely negative connotation associated with being a single mother. In my opinion, that negativity can be as harmful as poverty and lack of resources.
Due to the fact that the dialogue about single motherhood is framed in a negative way, single moms get hit with loads of blame. Society hands them all of the blame for the situation their families are in while they shoulder the responsibility of raising these children alone, and at the same time, they are cited as a main reason our society is going to hell in a hand basket. Very few seem to be focused on the male’s role in all of this. And that needs to change.
Perhaps, if we shift our focus and hold men more accountable for their roles in creating these single mother households, then we would be able to figure out how to prompt a positive change in the society. Until then, we are just adding one more thing for the single mother to worry about — seeing herself unfairly demonized by what people say.
A single mother was saying hotly in an interview; ‘the best way to get men to change their behavior is to shame them into oblivion. If we accept what men and fathers do as if there is nothing bad, it won’t send the right message. Never give men encouragement. Men don’t learn unless their faces are being rubbed in the mud’.
Hmmm…Where really are the absent fathers? It takes two to tango!
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Writer: Deyanju’s quest to know what makes people tick, birthed her passion and pursue in journalism. She stands out for her technical ability in writing and generating top notch articles. Deyanju as a Nigerian consistently gives an analytical mind and critical eye to activities and events around her. Out of work, she is an out-spoken and lively person who enjoys traveling, meeting people and playing scrabble. She is always looking for new challenges – most recently learning Spanish.