Life is supposed to follow a set path – first we are born, then we go to school, we graduate and find a job. Then comes marriage, then a house and then a baby makes the picture complete. Right?
If only life were that simple for everyone. Sometimes, things simply don’t go as planned. For whatever reason, you may find yourself missing one of those components, and this could change your entire life and perspective.
For example being a single parent due to fate or circumstance, whether it’s the passing of a partner, or a runaway following a happy accident, or even a partner who lives far away from you.
There will be judgment
Although KL boasts a façade of modernity, our society is generally quite traditional in their thinking. When you reveal that you’re a parent, everyone is delighted. But when you mention your single status, they will be taken aback. It doesn’t matter how it happened, a divorce, a death or a simple case of ghosting.
Questions will abound, sometimes quite personal, even from perfect strangers. You will find yourself trying to justify something that feels quite natural to you, without realising that you really don’t have to do that.
There will be support
On the flipside, there will be lots of people who support or even applaud your decision to go down the road of single parenthood. Most people who are parents themselves understand the immense love we must have for our children, and they will appreciate the strength it takes to take on the responsibility alone.
You may think that institutions would make life difficult for single parents, and you would be wrong. The Malaysian government makes no issue about registering a child of a single parent as a citizen, and neither do the doctors. You may even discover who your true friends really are, as they are the ones who will stick around in your hour of greatest need.
It is lonely
Without a doubt, it is lonely not to have someone by your side sharing the trials and tribulations of parenthood. But it is also a lonely experience in a larger sense.
Malaysia is a country defined by community and family. It can occasionally be isolating to be a single parent in a country filled with large and happy families.
You may feel guilty that you’re unable to provide a large network of support for your little one. You may feel unwelcome at events where most of the guests are families. You may feel unwilling to attend said events because they make you feel sad; because they remind you of what could have been.
All this is very natural, but it can also help you focus on what is truly important: raising your precious little one surrounded by people who love you and have never left you.
It is liberating
While it can be lonely (and scary!) making all the decisions yourself, in time you will learn to trust yourself and this leads to a feeling of great empowerment and liberation.
There is no one there to take the night shift for you, so no matter how many times baby wakes up, you have to do it. And that makes you realise how great your capacity for love is. That makes you realise how strong you really are.
And some decisions are no brainers. No fretting over things like co-sleeping, because there won’t be a partner there to dissuade or question. No juggling the opinions of extended family, who may not know your baby as well as you do.
Single parent or not, at the end of the day we are simply parents. And that means doing everything we can to provide the best for our children.