Now, that may sound like a weighty question for a single mom to answer, but I welcome it. My four-year-old has been interested in my love life as of late (kindergarten matchmaker perhaps?) and she has approached me with one question after another on the matter. Fortunately, her interrogations amuse rather than unnerve me.
As a single mother, I’ve been hit by questions, sometimes well-meaning and sometimes prying, about my status. What does your husband do?” “How long have you been married?” “Oh, your daughter doesn’t resemble you so she must look like your husband, right?” Most everyone assumes that if you have a child, you must have a husband, and although that is the norm, it is not always the case. I for one am never embarrassed to say “Nope, no husband here!!!” The multiple exclamation marks indicate my enthusiasm and lack of apology about not being a Mrs.
If strangers at a social gathering pose these sorts of questions, it only follows that my daughter would also have a similar curiosity. She has always enjoyed hearing stories about the time period when her father and I were married, and I have to confess it breaks my heart a little to see that she yearns for a return to the time when both parents lived under one roof and she didn’t miss one while staying with the other. The word “dad” has always been a part of her vocabulary but “husband” is new to her world. Sammy’s father has remarried and we have explained to her that just as he was once my husband, he is now her step-mother’s husband. I don’t really know if she understands the concept; she vigorously nods, but she may just be bobbing her head to the “Yo Gaba Gaba” theme song playing in her mind.
So, back to that so-called dreaded question…”Who is your husband?” I did my best to give Sammy a simple but honest and accurate answer. “I don’t have a husband sweetie.” I paused for a moment and then continued, “Actually, some families don’t have husbands.” There, I had opened Pandora’s Box. I went there because I wanted this to be a teachable moment. I explained to my daughter that not every family unit consists of a mother, father and their children, and that a family is a group of people who share a home and love and take care of one another. Sammy nodded her head in agreement. “My family has Maninoo, and Nanna!” she said with pride, referring to her my parents. I smiled.
I’m proud to be a single mom and I’m ever so fortunate to have a loving circle of strength that holds me up. My parents, siblings, friends, and extended family comprise the village that helps me raise my daughter. And when Sammy’s father isn’t around, my father, brothers and brother-in-law step in and adopt the father figure role. Zoo trips, rough-housing, wrestling moves and full day outings that end with an exhausted four-year-old draped on your back are covered by brothers and brother-in-law, while mommy-is-mad-at-me affection falls under Sammy’s grandparents’ jurisdiction. So really, am I a single mom?
I’m certainly single as far as the romance department is concerned, but I am not single-handedly raising my daughter. I’ve been through troubled times, but who hasn’t? Yes, I would like to be happily married one day, but I don’t see myself as incomplete or an anomaly. I have my non-traditional family and this kind of unconditional support is precisely why I’m not evasive or embarrassed when asked about my single status. I am a proud single mother. Now, cue Beyonce’s “All the single ladies…all the single ladies…”
Samar Ahmed is a single South Asian mother, a teacher, and a nearly 30-year-old superstar trying to canoe her way through life.
Photo Credit: Fumigraphik