The trials of Cayman’s single mothers

 Imagine yourself as a single parent who takes care of everything in the home.
   The struggles and hardships that one faces between home and work make keeping your sanity intact a balancing act.
   Absentee fathers, broken promises, shattered dreams, finances and social and emotional isolation all take its toll on a single mom.
   One single mom, Catherine Tyson, penned a series of conversations in the book “Somebody’s Mama,” about her experiences.  She is a single mom who knows that to be a single Mum means glaring your demons in the face and making sacrifices that ultimately benefit your children.
   Not all single mothers are so fortunate or so strong, when the pressures of motherhood rear their ugly head; the joy of being a mother is somehow dampened by the thought of your predicament; by the concern of finances, help with the children, missing fathers.
   I was a single mother and a have lots of friends that are single moms.
   It is a challenge. Now looking back on the years as my daughters grow older, I still wonder how I managed to juggle a career and deal with the stressful situations that came with single motherhood.
   Returning home from work to clean the house, prepare supper, do homework and make ready for bed, felt like a commitment to a merry-go-round. A never ending pace of go, go, go.

Traditional family values that I was brought up with seemed to get lost in the struggle for survival, and being unable to give my children these values caused feelings of sadness and depression.
   Churches are there, which sometimes is a wonderful thing, but it is hard to hear the message when your mind is on so many other things.
    Sermons of faith in God to pay bills don’t seem applicable to reality and the pressure sometimes forces us to believe we are not good mothers.
   Single mom, Lyn says she felt it hard that her children did not have a father figure in their lives.
   “First you have to be a mother and a father to your children.
   “The everyday struggles of getting them ready for school, attending extra circular activities, helping with homework, finding a sitter, and having to be everywhere at once is emotional and physically tiring,” she said.
   “The churches do not help! Yes we send our children to learn the word of God, but when it comes to assisting with raising them, making them do their homework and disciplinary actions we are the ones responsible.
   “To me, I think the best organisation that is of some help to single mothers, is the Big Brothers Big Sisters organisation. They help to do what missing fathers should be doing; that is making sure their sons or daughters have that second role model figure in their lives, whether it is to go fishing, talk about life experiences, or just kicking a ball around.
   “It does not just take money to raise a child, but fostering on how to be a loving and productive citizen in society with good upstanding character morals,” she adds.
   When we think of single parents the first one that comes to mind is a woman, but some single dads face some of the same predicaments of being a single parent.
   “It was hard being a single father because I had not even been through a divorce. The mother just took off,” said Atillo.  It was challenging for me especially growing two baby girls with no mother figure around.
   “I had to do everything; bathe them, take them to the hospital, comb their hair, make sure homework was done, cook food and take them to school. I had to explain to them about maturity, counsel them about friends, be open about issues and teach them not to hide anything from me; it was not easy for me and harder for them not seen their mother around.”
   But throughout all the hardship and challenges Atillo said he did not feel disappointed with his children. “I felt angry with the mother for leaving when they were just babies but I thank God I was a good mother and a father to them.
   Today they grown and on their own, they are good girls, have an education and have made me proud.”
   He adds “They were the ones that came first in my life no matter what happened.”
   To other single dads Atillo says, “Just support your children and education them about the society, steer them away from crime and bad influences; do not give up on them  one day they will make you proud.”
   Atillo also thanks his parents and brother and sisters for the support when times were tough.
We are three of many single parents, who found themselves in the plight of having to accept the responsibility of raising our children alone.
   We found ourselves crying out a lot of times, feeling trapped by regret and a sense of not doing enough for our children.
   Stress and the pressures of life seemed so overwhelming there were periods of being angry, moody, short-tempered and frustrated. Attention span was at its limit. The chore of going to work and helping with homework seemed so large. But each day we pushed a little harder.
   Many days I got on my hands and knees and asked God to help me to be a better mom and to give me the knowledge and understanding to be a good mother.
   I have never regretted having two children even though at times I felt I needed a long holiday. I love my children and although it was rough, they are mine. I did it and am still doing it and I know all you other single parents out there will make it too. Just hang tough and before long you will wonder where the years went.