I would like to address a serious issue that I have never seen talked about here, and that is the dilemma facing single mothers in this country.
The things that affect many of us are that we do not work for a lot of money but have to pay rent and run a household; we get little or no child support; we must be both mother and father to our children; and because of everything that we have to do, many of us find it difficult to develop meaningful relationships.
I based these facts on my life and that of most of my friends and their friends – all of whom are single mothers.
Let me give you an insight into what the life of a single mother is like by using my situation, and I am not the worst by far.
My take home pay is $1 987.63 per month. From that, each month I have to pay rent of $900, and that includes the water. The light bill is around $120; the cellphone is $60, as I don’t have a phone in the house, and between food and bus fare for me and my two children I budget $500.
Out of the remaining $400, I save $100 with the credit union come hell or high water, and the rest of the money is to buy shoes, clothes, pay for any little thing that the children or myself need, or for going to fairs or the cinema.
Because I have no money to spare, I only get my hair done by a hairdresser three times a year at the most – Christmas, Easter and for my birthday. Other than that I just wash it and plait it, so I tend to look simple, like a plain Jane – and that doesn’t usually attract men.
Whatever money I get from the children’s father I put on their accounts. I don’t touch it; I leave it for a rainy day – and thank God so far that day has not arrived in the last six years I have been on my own.
But as I said, I’m doing much better than a lot of other women. I know two women who both have two children each and only take home about $1 200 every month. Now, how can anybody live off of that sort of money if they have to pay rent, pay for light and water, and feed themselves and their children? It’s really hard.
And that brings me to men and relationships. Too many men in this country just do not live up to their responsibility as fathers. They like to brag about how many children they have and from how many women. But ask one of them how much they give to support that child and they would choke on their words.
Even more than that, few of them would be unable to say how much time they spend talking or playing with their child. I would put my head on the block and bet you that most of them don’t spend two hours in any week with their child or children.
Because of this, single mothers have to play the role of both parents. They have to come in from working a long, hard day to whip up something fast to eat, help the children with their homework, and begin preparing clothes and food for the next day. By the time the children go to bed you are so tired that all you feel like doing is sleeping.
For the men who are interested in you, they would expect to come around 10 p.m. when the children are sleeping and you have bathed and freshened up, to just run some talk and have sex. And when you fall asleep, they’re vex. But how can you keep your eyes open after such a grind during the day? So the relationship often breaks up.
It is because of this unreasonableness that many single women often seem to have a lot of male friends in a short period of time, and get a reputation even though in some cases they were not intimate with the man. I went through that.
Of course there are those single women who live with a lot of different men to make ends meet. I know of that too as some of my friends did that to survive, and the men they did it with were married men – as they always seem willing for something on the side.
This apart, the harsh reality is that single women in this country have real problems just living on a day-to-day basis, and I feel more needs to be done to help us and our children have a better quality life. And the first thing needed to be done is to ensure fathers live up to their responsibility.