By MAVIS KING
When I left my husband, I walked out of our apartment with our newborn baby in my arms. The car was already packed and as I walked to where it was parked I thought to myself, ‘I’m a single mum with a daughta’, poorly pronounced just like the ad of the early 90s. Judgement – my own – weighed heavily. Single mother was not a title I wanted to own. A year later it still isn’t.
Other single mothers feel the same. We arrive at our single parent status by different circumstances: some are widowed, some divorced, others flee violence or addiction, some realised they were in a relationship with the wrong person or it was the other person that had that awakening. Some are cheated on and a growing number choose to go it alone from the start. Given our varying circumstances, it’s an all-encompassing title. The problem with being a ‘single mum’ however is the negative connotations it can conjure.
At their worst single mums are associated with welfare, dole-bludging, unkempt and unruly kids. The single mother is just keeping it together, just scraping by. She’s not a heroine, no she’s responsible for her plight. She should have known better, should have never married him, shouldn’t have had children. And what about the kids? She’s selfish, the kids won’t do well at school, they’re worse off than their friends. The single mother has certainly had a bad run of it as far as clichés go.