Single parenthood is not easy. It is a lonely, burdensome and daunting life that nobody ever wishes for himself/herself. The status could sometimes call to question the ability to maintain relationship as it superficially gives a wrong impression about the character hue of those concerned. As there are single parents by fate or circumstance (not due to their own faults), there are those in the situation as consequences of their character flaws. Those in the latter category (especially women) do enjoy their freedom and convenience to do whatever they like. They dislike any form of control by men in the name of marriage. They believe there are more out there to explore and gain than what marriage (which they tag: ‘confinement’) can offer them.
Single parents are in three categories: first, those whose condition was caused by fate or natural tragedy like death (widowhood) and those deserted by their partners for just no cause or not due to their faults. Second, those who are not married but have children out of wedlock; and third, those who went through divorce or separation due to differences, incompatibility, hate or trust issues. Whichever category one might be, there’s hope for a better life in the New Year if determination guided by wise counsel is heeded.
A single mom who had earlier suspended her Hook Up subscription for “personal reasons” in 2018 called last weekend for “immediate activation” of her subscription. I had earlier advised her to the contrary but she was fixated on her own style of parenting. Likewise, a 48-year-old single dad who had connected with me since April, 2019 also saw the need for him to “move on” now. I wish to connect these two similar characters with each other but their preferences differ. We spoke at length and I think the reasons for their delay in looking for companions are very common with many single parents. Hence I chose to share the kernel of the encounters.
In his 12 minutes conversation, he said: “I think it’s time for me to move on. I have sacrificed enough for my children. My last born is in the final year in the university while his elder sister is now observing her NYSC. This is the eighth year of my single parenting and I now saw in practical terms your counsel way back in April last year when we first spoke. You won’t believe that I was alone at home throughout Christmas and the New Year celebrations. They said they were going for holiday elsewhere. I can’t stop them because they have come of age. It now dawned on me that I truly need a wife, and urgently, too.”
On her part, the mother of three admitted to being obsessed with her children and business to the detriment of her relationship. Read her: “I have seen a lot in life. Men are not that reliable when it comes to burden bearing especially on financial matters. I have learnt to trust in myself through hard work than to live beggarly with any man. However, I admit that I should have given a window of opportunity to dating as you have counselled at the initial stage. My reason then, as I told you, was that it would be a distraction. Some men would occupy your space in the name of love without adding any value to you, and I wasn’t prepared for that.
“Also, my children needed proper upbringing, especially my two girls who are now in their 20s. When I was in a relationship before I cut off from every man, I didn’t allow men to visit me at home. I could go to wherever to keep a date and do whatever and return home to meet my children. I was so careful to the extent that I don’t keep chats with men on my phone. I made sure I delete everything immediately the conversation was over. I didn’t encourage them to flirt with men or associate with neighbouring girls anyhow.
“This Yuletide taught me a great lesson and it reminded me all you had earlier told me. A close friend, also a single mom, came to visit me at Christmas. In a relaxed mood, she started discussing her worries about her guy as she asked for my opinion on what she should do. After she left, my girls tabled her issue for discussion and I was aghast at the level of their reasoning and exposure to life issues. At some point, my daughter indirectly hit me in her words of advice when she said ‘some moms think they are smart. We surely know that it is not easy for single parents to cope. We feel for you, mom, in trying to present yourself as a no-nonsense and disciplined woman with ‘no interest’ in men for our sake. I think that is a grave mistake you’re making, mom. In a few years’ time, we will all be gone. Then, you will clearly see the need for a companion or a husband. That time, you might not be in a vantage position to choose the kind of a man you desire because of age. If care is not taken, the money you’re busy making now would be spent to get yourself a man. It is now that you can still make a choice and be happy. Our elder brother is already in a serious relationship while my younger sister, too, has given herself till next year when she would go for the youth service. So, whose interest are you still protecting? I decided to say all this because it’s not helpful if we pretend not to know what is going on. You keep your man outside so we could see you as disciplined or strict, not so? We don’t need that anymore. We are now adults. We should even analyse whoever you are dating and make our opinions about him known to you only if we know him. I sincerely appreciate your sacrifice and all you have been doing for me and my siblings in the last 12 years. You are indeed a loving and caring mom but it is about time for you to move on without pretence. Tell your friend to take it easy with her man friend. There’s bad economy in Nigeria now. Whatever the man can afford to give she should manage it. Tell yourselves (moms) some home truth that ‘enu gbe’ (there’s hunger and no money).
“Sir, that was what my eldest daughter told me on Christmas evening. I have been pondering on it ever since. I then realized that all the while, these digital-age children actually know far more than what their parents think they know. That’s why I decided to make the hay while the sun still shine.”
“In a few years’ time, we will all be gone. Then, you will clearly see the need for a companion or a husband. That time, you might not be in a vantage position to choose the kind of a man you want because of age. If care is not taken, the money you’re busy making now would be spent to get yourself a man.”