I found it difficult to be a single mother. Even more so in a church community. A church is supposed to be perfect. And yet, no one sees a single mother as perfect even if being one was not by choice. As a single mother, I was looked at as someone evil or someone who will break the homes and families of others. If people understood the pain that I have gone through, they will realise that I would never even think of putting another family through the same pain. I tried hard to make the best of my situation without caring about what others may think. All I needed was some support. Not financial support of any sort, just support from people who were willing to be genuine friends.
As I faced each day, one at a time, it was hard to find people who could understand my predicament.
In this journey, the most interesting experience for me, as a single mother, was when Zechary was 10, not too long after his older brother had passed away. Zechary was a little nervous during his water baptism. When his name was called out to give a testimony, he thanked God for being able to obey His commands to be water baptized so that he may see his brother again in heaven. As a mother who had just lost one of her sons, that was very comforting for me. Before then, I did not realise how much God had touched him through his 10 years of living.
Raising Zechary by myself was not very enjoyable. Both him and his brother were very close. Since then, Zechary was alone for most of his life. While he was still manageable in his pre-teen years, he started longing to be more independent and to think for himself as he grew older, and that was difficult for me. I did not, however, spare the rod on him. For an only child like him with an absent father figure, I would always think that he was trying to get on top of my head. I had to show him that that was not going to be easy, that I am both a mother and a father. Once I remembered laughing at an essay he wrote about me: “My mommy is a very firm and strong woman yet gentle and loving but don’t make her angry because you won’t like it.”
Though it made me laugh, it also made me realise that my footing with Zechary has always been firm. A lot of people say that I spoil him but you would hear otherwise if you asked Zechary about it. I did cane him when he misbehaved but he outgrew the cane when he started to grow taller than me. There were times where I wanted to give up. The hard work of being a mother and to provide meals on the table were not the things that were taking a toll on me. It was the challenge and the disappointment I faced from bringing Zechary up. I remember telling Zechary that he should pray that I never give up on him because that would be the end.
Humorously, Zechary said “Mommy, I think you cannot give up on me because this is your ministry. God gave you this ministry and you cannot leave it unfinished or unattended.”
In my room, I argued with God. Training my child to grow up as one who fears God was my biggest struggle. Many friends and people from church saw Zechary as an angel but to me, he was far from that! I attended counselling and sought help, yet time after time, I was always told that I should give him time to grow up and everything will be alright. As a single mother, I wanted to give up; I did not have the time nor patience. Why was it so painful to raise a child? My life was consumed by frustrations, nervousness and anxiety.
As a single mother, I did not have enough time or patience and I wanted to give up. I thought children who went to church would grow up to be more resilient.
As I faced each day, one at a time, it was hard to find people who could understand my predicament. One day when I was listening to the song “Jesus at the Center”, I realized my mistake—placing Zechary first in every aspect of my life instead of Jesus. When I repented, things became less burdensome because I learned to let go and gave myself time to focus on my career and relationship with God. Now, I am less concerned and anxious about Zechary, giving room for him to take up responsibilities and mature as an adult. For the first time, he surprised me on my birthday last year by taking me out for a meal. This year too, even when it was raining cats and dogs!
Through my years of being a single mother, I have learnt that ‘single mother’ is just a title and nothing more.
The fondest memory I had being a single mother was to let go of my decade-old job. It was not an easy decision as I was at the prime of being a day care operator. Throughout those 10 years, Zechary was understanding and never complained about the noise or the children. Right after his last SPM paper, he came home and sat me down for a serious talk about college. We knew it would require a significant figure to support his studies, and my current earnings weren’t enough. I hid in my closet and started asking God questions. Where will I find the money? The idea of returning to the corporate scene which I left 10 years ago was daunting, but Zechary was confident that it’ll be alright. Even though God assured me that He will provide, I thought He was being humorous. By faith, I decided to shutdown the business. It really broke my heart to see the children crying but I had to put Zechary first.
Through my years of being a single mother, I have learnt that ‘single mother’ is just a title and nothing more. The only difference is the responsibilities I have to hold because I am both a mother and a father. On one hand, I want to be a mother full of gentleness so Zechary has someone to fall back on. On the other hand, I have to be a father and give Zechary the firmness and assurance he needs. I realized it didn’t matter whether or not you are a single mother, as long as you aspire to do your best as a parent. I did not choose to go into depression and hold myself a pity party so that others can carry me. There is a time, a season for everything, but I will always have to rise up and be prudent. God has continuously been faithful in my life, keeping me strong and healthy throughout the years.
I do not believe that there should be a negative stigma to being a single mother. I stand tall as one.
Sometimes I think my experience is a blessing because I can now lend a shoulder to a lot of ladies who are hurting in that situation especially those who are in the marketplace. I did not have someone to hear me out when I was in that situation and I want to be different. When the children are having their afternoon naps in the daycare, I will open a small table where I serve a cup of tea or coffee to give a few ladies an avenue for them to open up. I am thankful that God saw me as someone strong and faithful enough to be thrown into such waters. I intend to use this blessing to encourage other mothers. I do not believe that there should be a negative stigma to being a single mother. I stand tall as one.
If he shines, it is not because of me. It is because of God.
As his mother, every time I look at Zechary, I pray that he will continuously love God and be readily available to carry out His commands. One thing I will always remember is that Zechary does not belong to me. Once I have surrendered my son unto God, everything began to change. If he shines, it is not because of me. It is because of God.