Single. Mother. Fabulous!

by Ana Santos

I love being a single mom.

Of course, at the start, I did not always feel this way. I was 27 and so while my friends were starting to enjoy perks of the corporate world or busy planning their marriages, I was leaving mine.

I felt older than my 27 years and found that no one could relate to me. In an old blog post, I wrote: “I was a prodigy of some sorts. I was neither here nor there, I was an outcast among the couples, newlyweds and newborn parents.”

I had never in my life felt such isolation.

I had no one to go to who knew how I felt, or what it took for me to leave a marriage and all the promises of a lifetime with it.   I remember that the process of healing started only when I willed it to start.  And only when I realized that I would be miserable only as long as I allowed myself to be.

Fast forward to 10 years later, other girls still ask me: how you do you do it?

What surprises me now is that guys are asking me the same thing. Not because they have become  single dads, but because their friends – some, in alarming number — have become single moms.  Some are surprised that in their mid-20s, they and their friends still don’t know better.

And what surprises me even more is that there still seems to be little in terms of support for single parents.  Sure, there are things like the Solo Parent Law, but the things that really matter to single moms on a daily basis like managing finances, finding a good yaya, legal rights and simply just maintaining your sanity are still missing.

I found myself again jealous of other countries with sophisticated and efficient welfare and health care systems that were sensitive to the needs of single parents. So, like a lot of things that I decided to do in my life out of envy and jealousy,  I decided to put together a workshop called “Single. Mother. Fabulous!”.

I, together with fellow writer Karen Kunawicz, will talk about single motherhood. You can bet that Karen and I will tell it like it is and talk about both the warm, fuzzy joys and the knee buckling travails that are overwhelming in equal amounts.

This is a free workshop for single moms to talk and learn from each other’s experiences. Our partner, The Body Shop, will conduct a demo on how to put on make-up in the least amount of time because that’s the one thing single moms never have enough of.  And if there’s one secret to surviving single motherhood, it’s that you need to look good before you feel good.

I am still thinking about making this a building block series covering other topics like legal assistance and rights, creatively managing finances, finding the right yaya and yes – even the often dreaded territory of dating again. It will really depend on the response to this first workshop.

I will end by saying that in the years that I have made a life for me and my daughter, I have come to know a certain happiness and contentment.  There were many people who openly showed pity and disdain, but there were far more people who helped us and gave us their unwavering support.  It’s time to pay it forward and reach out to other single moms who are just starting this journey.

There is clear line that separates being alone and being on your own. Knowing this difference is the key to making your own happy even after ending.

The “Single. Mother. Fabulous!” workshop will be on Sunday, November 14, 2010, 9-11am at the 2/F of Starbucks Ortigas Home Depot. This will be a FREE workshop, but slots are limited, please reserve a slot at 0927.307.9608. This is a trademark event of Sex and Sensibilities.com, because single moms are the SASsiest of them all.

Ana Santos

Ana is a journalist by education and now by profession, after taking a few detours in the corporate world of banking. She is also a sexual health rights activist as a matter of choice and passion.

As an independent journalist and foreign correspondent covering sexual health rights and women in armed conflict, Ana has received media grants from Newsbreak, Probe Media Foundation and the Philippine Press Institute to cover population and development issues. Recently, Ana also took on the post of Associate Editor for Illustrado, a Dubai-based lifestyle magazine for overseas Filipinos.

In 2009, Ana founded Sex and Sensibilities.com (SAS), a website that promotes positive sexuality in the context of informed choice among young women.

"Happy Even After", a spin-off of SAS, is a candid and sometimes humorous look at the perils and pressures of solo parenting in one of the two remaining countries in the world where divorce is not legal.

  • Ina D

    I got blown away just by reading the comments! There were so many reactions, most forgot what the whole thing is about— and this supporting the single moms out there who are struggling to make it through. I think it’s not about telling the youth that single parenthood is “cool”; it’s about people supporting each other. And for the record, nobody would choose to be a single parent. It just happens. I think the workshop would really empower and help single moms out there to feel that they are not really alone. That there are people who are willing to oversee the certain taboo that comes along with being a lone parent. Kudos to the workshop!

  • Felicity

    so much nitpicking! single dads, single moms, same thing — nobody wants to raise a child alone so let us support those who have to. Single moms and single dads deserve our support; it does take a baranngay to raise a child.
    UP– single dads arise from, for example, the death of the mother or desertion of the mother. i’m sure there are other reasons as well.
    we should sympathize with children. to become a better single mom (or dad) in effect makes for better support for children of single parent homes.
    so let us not judge what “brought them there” in the first place; this is the situation they are facing, whatever the reasons is not our place to judge, let us help them help themselves and their kids.
    More power to Ana and all the others who wish to help!

  • UP nn grad

    Sympathize with the children because a few single-moms are quite “space-cadet” in the first months or years after partnership-breakdown. The stress, tension, confusion is quite a contagion.

    Some single-moms, unthinking in what they tell the children, unload guilt and way-too-much-responsibility onto the children. The words of Mommy-martyrdom — “Without you”, mom tells child, “I will die!!!” — is a horrific burden to unload on a 6-year old.

    Making the child the messenger is to stress out the child, too. “Ask your daddy he has to pay for the school tuition and also for school supplies and you need new shoes, okay?” “Now tell your mommy that this check is for your food and school and not on her make-up or shoes, okay????”

    And SPY is the role the child hates — “So who else is in the house, huh? Huh? Huh?”

    Sympathize with the children for a huge burden they didn’t volunteer for.

  • Bert

    Why this one-sided talk of child-support money to the mother, is there no such thing as child-support money for the father if the child is staying with the father?

  • To say that there are no challenges facing fathers is to assume that they do not love their kids. It’s a terrible feeling living alone not seeing your kids when you come home. One’s identity is also wrapped up in being a husband and a father. Men who face separation often go through depression as well. There is an enormous amount of stress in adjusting to new living conditions. On top of that is the financial stress of supporting your kids while paying for additional rent, etc.

    These stresses both financial and emotional compound on both men and women and probably are responsible for the long-term effects different studies have found on children. As a matter of public policy, the state ought to support families who are at the brink of falling apart. Barring that, it should also support families transitioning into new living arrangements. This can be done through the health insurance system for example, for couples to seek therapy both prior to and after separation.

  • UP nn grad

    Jesus was not raised by a single mom.

    Single parent — a person bringing up a child or children without a partner. Joseph, Mary’s partner, helped bring up the child Jesus.

    A single mom does not become a single mom anymore when she remarries or finds another partner who help bring up a child or children. If the new partner is only for holding-hands-while-watching-TV and partner helps very little with bringing up child/children, status of “single parenthood” remains.

    Change “mom/she” to “dad/he” and the sentences in the paragraph above remain valid.

  • beth

    I’ve been a single mom for the past 20 years & yes, it isn’t easy. With 3 kids to raise and with no other person to help me, I had to do everything on my own. Indeed, in this country, single moms cannot expect anything from government so in my case, I had to work as hard as I could & still not forget about myself. My kids turned out to be ok with my eldest now a surgeon and the two boys both in the university. While single momhood isn’t easy, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My decision to be one is perhaps the best one I’ve made in my life. We shouldn’t forget that in this situation, we don’t only speak about the kids but the mother as well. Everyone should have a life that one wants. Those of you who are in happy marriages are lucky. Failed marriages should not be equated with failure in life. Those of us who chose to be single parents are capable of having a full life with our kids.

  • GabbyD

    ah, marami bang single dads? under what circumstances do men become single dads?

  • UP nn grad

    to the cusp: that is even if the child is not your own… several USA courts have decided that if a dad had been providing for a child for 2 or more years and it turns out (after paternity investigation when divorce proceedings are in full blast) that the child is not his, the dad is still ordered to pay child support (until the child reaches 18 yrs age).

    What the mother chooses to do with the child-support money is her decision. She can use most of the child-support money for the Body Shop or Yoga classes (or evening classes so she gets into a much higher income stream).

  • UP nn grad

    To cusp: when the mom takes off and for whatever reason the mom refuses visitation rights to the dad — the dad should still continue to pay up. Multiply your paycheck by 10% (that’s a nice round number) and send the amount for caretaking of the children.

  • Bert

    Sorry, rephrase: Pilipinas youth, specially Ana’s daughter, must not read this article else they get the message that “Single.Mother.Fabulous!”, hihihi.

  • Bert

    Agree with Maps, agree, too, with UP n, ehe este, OFW-in-Maryland, :).

    Disagree with Ana. Pilipinas youth,specially Ana’s daughter,must not read this article then get the message that “Single.Mother.Fabulous!”, hehehe.

  • NazgulQueen

    Single motherhood is not cool or uncool, I would think. It’s not like being a part of a subculture or owning a bag or a certain pair of shoes.

    It’s just the way it is for some parents / moms. And it’s their call what they make of it. I think Jesus was born to single mom in that Joseph wasn’t his biological dad (hmm did Mary and Joseph get married?) I don’t think he did too bad, he preached a gospel of love and people still adhere to his teachings 2000 years later. Wasn’t Barack Obama raised by his mom too? Nobel prize winner.

  • KG

    @Gabby

    I guess the Cusp means single dads.

  • GabbyD

    ” it also avoids a discussion of the problems facing the dads in the situation. There are I believe equally challenging, albeit different prospects for men and there is also a similar lack of awareness and facilities available to them to gain the support they need.”

    what are the problems facing dad’s in the situation of single moms?

  • Corrections:
    One cannot infer that the causal linkage found between single parenting and teenage pregnancies found in advanced economies will eventuate in a different setting such as the Philippines…

    The rise of single moms is a sing post of the rising affluence and independence of WOMEN in our society.

    The only thing I could fault the article for, if you can call it that…

  • One cannot infer from cross country studies such as the ones quoted above by OFW-in-Maryland, that the driver (single parenting) will result in the outcome (teen pregnancy) as the commenter herself pointed out. It is perhaps more of a cautionary tale not to glamorize single parenting too much.

    The rise of single moms is a signpost of the rising affluence and independence in our society. I believe what the article points out though is that there still remains certain social and cultural stigma assigned to it, which I believe are worth dispelling for the simple reason that they are vestiges of the old patriarchal chauvinistic world we used to inhabit.

    My only fault, if you can call it that, is that while the article exposes some of the residual biases against single moms, it also avoids a discussion of the problems facing the dads in the situation. There are I believe equally challenging, albeit different prospects for men and there is also a similar lack of awareness and facilities available to them to gain the support they need.

  • Maps

    What about the likes of Lea Salonga and Charice? They were both raised single-handedly by their mothers and both definitely do not fall under the “Twice as Likely Theory.”

    It ain’t peachy cool to stay with your other half while your children witness you fighting endlessly. These kids will definitely see violence as an ordinary thing and will affect their adult life.

    It ain’t peachy cool, too, to be a single parent. Nobody here is encouraging other people particularly the youth, to become a single parent. And nobody is presenting a peachy-cool single parenthood as an easy way out for a troubled marriage. Instead, having a support group and knowing your rights are encouraged when single-parenthood (which can rise from a death of a partner) arises.

  • OFW-in-Maryland

    Some of the statistics are worrisome.

    SINGLE PARENT FAMILY – EFFECTS AND ECONOMICS

    Twice as likely

    Children growing up in a single-parent family are twice as likely to have a child before the age of 20 than those raised in a two-parent family. 45.

    One and a half times as likely

    Children growing up in a single-parent family are one and a half times as likely to be out of school and out of work in their late teens and early 20s as those who grow up in a two-parent family. 46.

    ” . . . Divorced in East and Southeastern Asia women with dependent children face serious constraints as single parents and as breadwinners particularly when they lack marketable skills that could secure them a job . . . . “

    When single moms work evenings, only slightly more than 35 percent eat with their children at least five days a week.

    Children who live with only one parent or with a parent and stepparent, experience more disadvantages in terms of psychological functioning, behavioral problems, education, and health.

    In the U.K., “researchers argued that the main ‘barrier’ to employment for mothers continues to be the lack of affordable, good quality childcare in the UK, and that this had a significant impact on their choices.

    ————
    Of course, above-statistics are for USA and Europe, not for Pilipinas.

    ————-

    Nonetheless, please tiptoe gently — Pilipinas youth must not get the message that single parenthood is peachy-cool.