I didn't want to be a single mother. I wanted to have a full-fledged family -- you know, a mommy and daddy together, working out their problems and having kids. That was my main plan in life. But here is the funny thing about life; it never goes according to plan.
I've heard a lot of empowering stories about how being a single mom is great. From my experience, I am telling you that it is bunch of crap.
The day I found out I was pregnant, I had been in a homeless shelter for about a week. My baby daddy had decided to abandon me in another town. During this time, he was on Facebook smiling in photos with another woman. I was in the shelter, in denial, trying to find him.
When the nurse at the homeless shelter confirmed the pregnancy, my mind went numb and my heart felt heavy. I couldn’t go back to my hometown with a baby inside of me. I was ashamed because I wanted to be free like my baby daddy was, to never feel tied down to any responsibilities.
Instead of running back into my baby daddy’s arms, the homeless shelter provided me a one-way bus ticket to a crisis pregnancy center at no cost to me. I took the opportunity. For the first time, I was thinking about somebody other than myself. I was thinking for two.
I stayed at this crisis pregnancy center, making sure that I got desperately needed prenatal care for myself and my baby. Meanwhile, the relationship between me and my baby's father fell apart, with him accusing me of cheating. He even had the audacity to claim that I wasn’t pregnant by him at all. Needless to say, his behavior and disrespect toward me made this a very stressful pregnancy.
I didn’t heed the warnings and signs before I married this man, and I ended up with an absent father who refuses to be in my daughter's life unless I give him a booty call. That seemed like it would cause a lot more misery and heartache than if I did it all on my own.
I was able to find some housing of my own and graduated from the crisis pregnancy center. When I moved in, I was planning to use the money I had saved to get a washer and dryer so I could wash my clothes. I mean, it was one of the biggest dreams that I had for myself.
Then the expenses started piling up.
I was told government assistance would pay for my daughter's child care with vouchers. But when I called the voucher office saying that I had found a child care center for my daughter, they told me that I could not get the vouchers until I met with a new case worker. I ended up paying $240 for her child care before I pulled her out of that daycare. I had to shell out more money to get the neighbors to help me take my daughter to day care so I wouldn't be late to work -- that was another $100. Add the diapers and wipes (which come to $30) and the total amount that I spent on my daughter that first week come to about $370.
There went my washer and dryer set.
With a heavy heart and a swallowing of my pride, I went down to the government assistance office. I was determined to get the childcare vouchers the same day. I was so determined to get those workers to see, to understand that I needed help to make sure that I could stay afloat.
Instead, I got scheduled for another appointment and told that it will be another week before my benefits got turned back on. This meant another week of paying everything out of pocket and getting pushed further into the hole.
Things were not looking up for me on the job front, either. My job as a tutor in a work-study program was about to end. I was afraid to actually go out there and look for work, partly because I wear a hijab (Islamic headscarf) and abaya (long Islamic dress).
My tutor job was the only job where I could be myself and do something that I actually enjoyed -- helping people do better in school. In the corporate world, I had to conform to their rules and their standards. No one was going to hire me wearing a long hijab and abaya. In order to even get a call back for an interview, I had to change my appearance.
The inner feminist in me was ready to give a middle finger to the corporation and make my own way. And that inner feminist logic was beautiful when I was single and had no children. But as a single mom with a child to feed, that feminist rebellion logic no longer worked.
Me and my daughter are in a very vulnerable position, constantly on the edge of being homeless. Even when I do get a job, I will still have to get government assistance. My baby’s daddy is not going to pay a single dime in child support unless the court gets involved and forces him to pay. I will probably never make enough to care for my daughter.
The whole thing pisses me off because this situation is not what I wanted for my child. I wanted to be married and raise my daughter. At the very least, I wanted my daughter to have a father who isn’t a deadbeat and was actively involved in her life because he sincerely wants to be there.
I feel like an idiot for choosing this man to be the father of my child and for even getting involved with him in the first place. I opened my legs to someone who wasn’t even worthy of my love, time or patience. There is nothing worse than when you become a living, breathing stereotype of a Welfare Queen/Single Mom.
I would like for my name to be withheld because i know me telling my story is going to make some people upset. I feel like my truth has to be told because I have held on to it for too long and it needs to be said. There needs to be honesty about the world of being a single mom and that it is not all butterflies, sunshine, and rainbows. There is sometimes rain, thunderstorms and the occasional tornado.