On Being a Single Mother

You are a couple, raising a child together, and then one day things don’t work out. He leaves. There might be some money, there might be a promise he will visit your child now and then. And maybe he does, for a little while. It gradually fades.

At first, you tell them what they’re doing. You make them feel guilty for abandoning a child who loves them, for teaching this child that they’re not deserving of their love. You talk about shared responsibilities and how unfair it is that you have to handle it all on your own. He has excuses sometimes: too much work to do, too much stress, he’s going through a rough time, the distance makes it difficult. Sometimes he doesn’t have one, so he threatens you to make you stop calling, stop texting. And you do.

You call a friend to vent. She says you should have thought about your child before texting him. You pushed him away. Thoughts start rushing through your head. It’s your fault he doesn’t have a father. What kind of mother are you?

You fall in love again. You decide you’ll be careful. You won’t expose your child to someone who might leave for good. This guy is different. He is mature, he’s responsible, he’s nice. He wouldn’t hurt your child. Your child now has a stepfather. He is a father for longer than the father before him. This is going well. Men aren’t all like that. They can be good.

You are a couple, raising a child together, and then one day things don’t work out. He leaves. There might be some money, there might be a promise he will visit your child now and then. And maybe he does, for a little while. It gradually fades.

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