Soldiering on as a single parent

A mother supervising her child while he does his schoolwork.
A mother supervising her child while he does his schoolwork.PHOTO: ST FILE

The special tribute paid to single mothers not only does the overdue job of addressing some of the social stigma that has long plagued single mothers, but also truly inspires (Strong, single mums, May 12).

Single parenthood was not in our plans, but when life threw us a curve ball, we learnt to roll with the punches.

We assemble big toys and furniture on our own as our little ones excitedly fetch us the tools we need and imitate our efforts to put the screws in.

Our children gaze at classmates flanked by a full pair of parents at school events, only to look up and smile as they feel our knowing squeeze of their little hand.

Well-meaning relatives pepper us with intrusive questions but we keep smiling at those who understand, and those who never will.

When we travel, we can manoeuvre a stroller, a suitcase, a car seat, a diaper bag and a child who at times refuses to stay in the stroller.

When we fall ill, it is not even noticeable because everything has to go on as usual.

Parenting is no breeze, even more so if one has to do it all alone. Nonetheless, for all the single mothers who feel like the next breath is eluding you, know that no one can rob you of the joy, labour and fruits of motherhood; like for all mothers, they are ours to savour too.

We fear getting a call from the school at work as that could mean our child has fallen ill.

We dread asking for last-minute leave so that we can stay home to care for our young while soothing them back to sleep amid 2am coughing fits.

When seeking jobs, we know too well the questions employers dance around to get a sense of whether we have kids, and if so how young, as well as who else is helping us with them - if at all.

We single-handedly plan and host birthday parties with clockwork efficiency to ensure the special occasions go as lovely as the memories we aspire to leave behind for our child.

We do twice the work on half the sleep, yet pull through day after day, night after night, donning and switching hats at a moment's notice.

We are the breadwinner, the protector and the nurturer all rolled into one.

Parenting is no breeze, even more so if one has to do it all alone.

Nonetheless, for all the single mothers who feel like the next breath is eluding you, know that no one can rob you of the joy, labour and fruits of motherhood; like for all mothers, they are ours to savour too.

Lily Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2019, with the headline 'Soldiering on as a single parent'. Print Edition | Subscribe