I am Perry Kanana and am a single mother to two wonderful boys.
I was young and clueless at the time I was getting my first born. Life was tough, and I wasn’t sure what to really expect. What gave me comfort at the time, was the fact that I had a ‘husband’ so I knew I had support. Sadly, my relationship did not turn out as I expected.
Solo parenting is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Because you are everything and you often feel that your everything is never enough. I have gone through a lot – my challenges if I was to write them down would fill pages and pages of books.
Challenges of Single Mummy~Hood
My kids are now 12 and 6. Though the journey has been bumpy, I value the pain and struggle that we have gone through – I value the sleepless nights and even the hunger pangs. As they all have pushed me to where I am today. I am glad I didn’t give up when things were grim and I am grateful and I thank God – He gave me the mountain and He is helping me climb it.
More often than not, the biggest challenge as a single mum is finances, being a solo parent means that you are always walking on a financial tightrope with no safety net below. Shouldering a load that is typically carried by two people which is not easy. You do it single handedly, and even when you don’t have enough, you have no one to turn to for support.
Sometimes we even lack time to focus on self-care. Trying to hold down jobs and ensure that you are fully there for your children, attending to their extra-curricular cognitively sometimes is hard when you running a one man show.
As the children grow up, there are a lot of grey areas. For married parents, there’s at least another adult to discuss with and to share the burden of making tough decisions. As a single parent, you have to bear the weight of all of those tough calls alone. The emotional burden can wear a mum down.
Misconceptions about Single Parenting
Common stereotypes about single mums are also not flattering.
We are often judged as a lot of things, including being labeled as bad or irresponsible parents. We are even called whores. I have learnt not to focus on those stereotypes. Instead, I focus on keeping my head up and learning how to survive as a single mum. After all, I am the parent who chose to stay. I am a responsible parent and I will never care what anyone else thinks.
My children count on me and only me and therefore I have no choice than to ensure that I am sufficient enough to offer them all the support that they need.
Daily duties for a single parent are not different than they are for a married one; including coping with sleeplessness, making tough decisions and paying bills. But as a single parent, you are on your own. I have totally embraced that. Somehow, there’s usually a way to work out challenges. There just have to be a way. We don’t have a choice.
The Up Side
Today, motherhood has taken new meaning for me and I am embracing it fully – I will not let being a single mum dampen my experience.
I choose to be present and intentional as I raise my boys, bracing them for a fall, and dusting them off after they do. Letting them go, letting them fail and teaching them how to get back up. Motherhood is being terrified that you can’t prevent pain, injustice and heartbreak. Over and above that, I purpose to be present for them as much as possible. Always being available for the “mum look at this!” scream or even laughing at jokes that are not funny. It is being strong for them when you are weak; it is smiling when I want to cry, and crying when I am smiling with pride.
Motherhood is the best thing I have become, the greatest love I have ever felt, and it’s best part about being me.
My hopes and dreams for my children is for them to live this life with no regrets, to feel supported and encouraged to pursue their interests and talents, to develop a degree of strength and resilience as well as problem solving skills for those times when life presents a challenge. I would love for them to be able to pursue their dreams and to be proud of their efforts and achievements. I know they will be great gentlemen who will value and respect others.
Regardless of how motherhood has turned out nothing else can produce the joy or heal a broken heart than motherhood. Life would have been so tough without feeling this spectrum of emotions.
In being a single mother, I find that mindset is everything – If your mind is filled with fear and negativity, you will not go anywhere. I don’t dwell on the negatives and or on how I have never received support from their father. I have totally rid myself of anything in my life that does not bring me joy. I changed my thinking to positive thoughts.
There is a lot more to life and I am not going to spend my entire life just raising children. Initially it was not easy to even take care of myself. I used to place the boys above everything. But it was so emotionally draining. I came to learn that one of the best things I can do for them is taking care of myself. Loving myself first.
I remember how I never used to buy myself stuff because of guilt. So I would end up spending on the boys and nothing on me. Now I have learnt to balance, without feeling guilty. I have learnt to put my needs first. This does not mean compromising my parenting. It means keeping myself as grounded and as stress free as possible so that I can give my children the wonderful childhood they deserve. My kids need a happy mother and not a perfect one.
The Future is Bright
On Mother’s Day, I often look forward to the handmade cards and little flowers that my children place under my pillow to surprise me. It’s always a reminder that the beauty of true love is always painted with tenacious tints of sacrifice.
To the entire single mums out there, Happy Mother’s Day! and kudos for your determination in raising your children on your own. Don’t let anybody make you feel otherwise. You are doing a great job! Keep your head up and take care of your mental health as it’s also very important. Please take care of yourself – You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Talk to someone when the going gets tough. Your children need a happy mother not a perfect one. You can do this. You need to do this. Really what choice do we have? It’s like being in labour? It hurts and it’s hard, but once you are in the middle of it, the only way out of the pain is to keep going.
Most of all learn to ignore stereotypes that judge single mothers.
Always remember that you are the parent that chose to stay. I am rooting for you! Let’s meet at the top.
Perry’s Burgundy Outfit: Courtesy Sarai Afrique
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