Motherhood exposes women to many challenges whose magnitude only those with firsthand experience can comprehend. Challenges of motherhood are more ominous for single mothers, who have to sift through every issue solo. This month’s Mum’s Helpline is inspired by two experiences. Some months ago, the Real Life Experience column of Parents magazine ran the story of Marita Kwamboka who got pregnant only to be ditched by her boyfriend who claimed the baby was not his. My friend Vicky’s situation was no different, for her boyfriend left her in her hour of need.
When she eventually gave birth, Vicky could not stand the sight of her own baby, Leon. All she thought of whenever she saw him was ‘her worst mistake’. She could not even bring herself to breastfeed him. Leon became restless and cried all the time. With time however, Vicky wanted to look at Leon and hold him.
One day, after Vicky’s mother had fed and bathed Leon and he was fast asleep, Vicky held him, and the chemistry between them was instant. She just sat in the bedroom rocking him with tears rolling down her cheeks. She now confesses that the one thing she will do forever is love her baby more than anything.
No matter how much you dislike the circumstances surrounding the conception of your baby, you will not help falling in love with him the moment he is born.
Most mothers who face rejection from their partners upon falling pregnant tend to transfer the rejection to their babies. They do not want to think of how they will nurture the pregnancy or raise the baby on their own. They blame the baby for the broken relationship, making comments like, “If it were not for you, Adam and I would still be together…”
The reality is that Adam too did not want to have a baby, and unlike you, he did not have to be tied down by the accidental pregnancy. Wake up and stop blaming your baby. He is actually the only person who has made no mistake. The sooner you realise that, the faster you can move on. It is up to you to take up your role as a single mother and love your baby. Most of all, offer him protection and security. A baby who is nurtured with love from the mother grows into a healthy, happy and clever child.
Some ways of coping with single motherhood include: • Take it one day at time, as much as you may be clueless on what tomorrow will bring. Try and think of what today will be like, and take it slowly.
• Spare time for your baby and know when you need to be available for him. If he wants to see you in school or at home, be available. Set time for dinner together.
• Stay in control of the household. You need to know when to be tough, and when to praise your child. However, it is also good to know when to be soft with him.
• Build a community of family and friends around you; they don’t have to be single mothers like you. This will enable you know who you can depend on when you need help or advice on parenting.
• Do not vent your anger on the child, as he may develop a rebellious attitude towards you.
• Lastly, take good care of yourself. As much as taking care of the baby takes up most of your energy, don’t forget to look after yourself as this will boost your self-esteem, especially from the compliments that will be sure to come your way.