The friendship between Hope and I was a peculiar one. It dated back to when I was in my penultimate class in high school. Although we were in different schools and I was a year younger (but a class ahead), the chord struck the day we first spoke at a debate competition.
We made sure to keep in touch regularly thanks to Facebook but at some point, I became engrossed with school work while in the university and I hardly had time for social media inter alia.
It was a rude shock when one day I was browsing through my news feed and I saw Hope cuddling an infant. One million thoughts started racing through my mind. I was mad at the fact that she had a kid and was probably married without my knowledge, I was amused that she was now a mother, I was confused as to who her spouse was and I admit, I was more confused/amused than mad.
Being the loud mouth that I am, I commented under the picture thus 'madam, weldone; you are now married without my knowledge. So much for friendship' and immediately, I got a message alert from her. On opening it, my greatest fear was confirmed. My dear Hope was the latest addition to the statistics of romance gone awry with a kid as the fallout of the unfortunate relationship.
By the time she started to narrate how she didn't know how she found herself in such because you see, my babe is very street wise than I am, I became sorry for her; sorry for the kid who might never know what it feels like to grow up in a family where the father and mother adores him, where each milestone growing up is captured alongside family moments, etc.
Much as we like to condemn single mothers (and fathers), I like to remind people who are quick to judge that it could have been any of us (so Hope darling and other sweethearts of mine known and unknown who were brought up in this environment or who are single parents, this article wasn't written to spite you).
My very effervescent friend is now a shadow of herself, she is frustrated. I know this because she takes it out on me.
I don't know how it feels like to be single and still act like a parent but I try to empathize always.
Here are some tips to cope as a single parent.
1. Build a strong family routine and stick to it. Allocate time for chores and time to spend as a family.
2. Establish ground rules since raising kids by yourself means you don't have anyone there to back you up if they won't play nicely.
3. Find opportunities everyday to praise good behaviours.
4. Set boundaries and limits. Children need to understand
5. Don't feel guilty. Don't blame yourself or spoil your child to try to make up for being a single parent.
6. Take care of yourself. Arrange time to do activities you enjoy alone or with close friends. Eat a healthy diet.
7. Lean on others. Join a support group for single parents, call on trusted loved ones, friends, etc for help.
8. Stay positive. Try to keep your sense of humour when dealing with everyday challenges.
9. Don't waste time being angry. Fine, the relationship didn't work out that's why you are left to care for the infant alone. Being bitter is just a waste of time as this is unproductive.
10. Be financially stable. You need to save money for unexpected costs and eventualities.
In other news, my darling is back!!!!!!!!!!!! You have no idea how sad I've been this past days that one member of our family was down but thanks be to God, she is fit as fiddle now.