Single-parenthood: The Ups and Downs

Article by Sylvia Nkatha

I do not think anyone sets out purposing to be a single parent, should they want to be a parent at all. But more and more, being a single parent has almost become a norm in contemporary society we are not getting into people’s business asking why they are single parents, we just accept it.

As a single parent, I can honestly say that it has its good days and the days you really are walking on the edge of wanting to lose your mind and shut the world off. One of the good things is that you can control most of your child’s upbringing if you can. You are the only one who makes these decisions, you do not have to argue with anyone about it, and you tend to trust your gut. You also tend to accomplish most of the family goals you set out such as getting that house, getting that insurance cover, and making sure your child lacks nothing despite whatever. I do not know but it seems to work for the most part.

It is so much easier to control your finances, not because you have a lot of money, but priorities are clearer. Being the sole provider for your family gives you financial discipline whether you planned on it or not. I cannot tell you how many times I have looked at something nice I think I need but I remember, my son needs those diapers, those shoes, the doctor’s appointment, and I keep walking. It is not even a sacrifice, it is just a fact.

I do not know if anyone agrees with this but I think I have noticed that my child, although young, has a sense of independence and responsibility as little as he is. He is not overly emotional, he knows when mama is leaving, and he has no needy attachment. At the same time, when we do spend our weekends together, we have the most present, loving connection. We hug a lot, play a lot, and laugh even more; I cannot express how much I look forward to those weekends, he is my recharge quite honestly because being very busy and having no time for any social life is my reality.

And this is not because I do not try. I can honestly say that I am not a very social person and my circle of friends has always been very small, but it shrunk even further with parenthood. I barely ever see any of my friends. We keep in touch via phone and all that but every time we want to meet, I have something to do and it is a legitimate something, and it is almost always about my child. As a single parent, I can tell you I have never had a break since this became my reality.

I work and live far away from my child, 5 days a week. Then every weekend, literally every Saturday morning at 5/6 am, I am on my way traveling to see him for the weekend, and back again super early Monday morning. I have to do laundry and clean my house so I gotta make time for that during the week. I have to make sure that my child is well provided for while living with my parents. This means, he is not directly under my care, if there is a random request for money, you absolutely cannot say no.

Did I mention that guilt is like this invisible cloak that is always on you, especially if you are a working single parent and have to leave your child under the care of someone else? I freak out constantly at the thought that my son could be closer to my parents than to me. That if I do not get stable quickly enough he will be in their care for longer than he should and it will be too difficult to take him away.

That he will have a hard time living with me as I am not constantly present like my parents since I have to work. That this arrangement will or has somehow broken our bond. I hate that feeling because it drives me to bitter tears more times than I care to confess. Punches wall.

Oh, and that is not even the end of it, as a single parent, discipline is a nightmare. My kid has no behavioral issues but I cannot bring myself to punish him when he is being naughty or climbing places and risking his neck or wrecking things, or throwing random tantrums because I will not let him kiss the dog. But if my parents tell him to stop, tell him no, I will beat you if you do that, he instantly stops. Me, I will talk like a radio with new batteries, and threaten him, and brandish mwikos and slippers, yet he still will try my patience. Working on it, do not judge me.

Lastly, there is the part where the health of your child can destabilize you financially. Something as small as a checkup, common cold, fever, a dentist appointment, that reckless abandon kids have and they go breaking limbs, whatever the case, I do not think any single parent ever has that planned out, no matter how well you plan your finances, or how much money you pay for health insurance, it is not ever easy. It can go from you having money planned out for the next month to you needing a loan for the next day’s meal.

As much as I am still a fresh single parent, as much as I think I am doing my best, I will never not worry about how my child will turn out. I’m I doing enough, will he be a balanced individual, is he damaged, will he be able to turn out how society expects a man to be, will he despise me when he grows up, are other moms better moms than me, do I have to ensure he has a father figure in his life because God knows I do not have time for that, are kids raised by both parents going to make fun of him, will they turn out better than him, do I even qualify as a mother with everything on my shoulders and my attention being demanded on all directions?

I cannot write my list of doubts and finish today. I am just trying, every day, I wake up and try, and try a little more. I do not know if it is enough, if it is the right way, or if I even know what I am doing, but I am doing it 1,000,000%.



  1. I kept asking so many questions just like the writer?? Okay, and is their a way the “normalcy” can be addressed before things get to worse. Can we get back to the roots of this and stop running away by just accepting things.
    Well..still at it!! But we can hold on to Hope!!


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