All the lonely mothers

2009-05-07 00:00

As Mothers’ Day approaches I write this article on behalf of all the single mothers who struggle — and somehow manage — to provide for their children. There’s so much more to raising a child than buying Pampers and Nido but some men just don’t get it. As precious as our little babies are, they are very expensive.

I have a few male friends who are new fathers and they are very excited and look forward to seeing their little princes and princesses growing up. Every time I hear from them they tell me how well their little ones are growing and how beautiful they are. I never thought a man could be so happy about being a father that he distributes pictures of his bundle of joy to friends — that’s what we women do. It is very good to see men who love their children, who care for them and who enjoy spending time with them. Something of this sort is very scarce these days.

I am not sure what it is that makes some men not want to be part of their children’s lives, let alone provide for them. Surely it was good making that baby? Some men make it through the nine months, but that doesn’t make them any better than the ones who disappear once she announces that she is expecting. Even worse are the men who force their girlfriends to abort the babies. I know men who don’t even know their children, not because they were denied that right, but because they simply could not be bothered. Why do they make these babies in the first place?

Men who fail to be fathers have no idea what they miss out on. Babies are beautiful in a way no one can ever understand, from their tiny feet and little hands to their cute mittens and colourful blankets. The first word, the first step and the way they look when they are asleep. The stories they tell and when they figure out how to open a tap. The look on their face when they get a toy and the excitement on their first day of school; its priceless. It’s sad how some men can never appreciate these little details, and they can never know how special babies are. They can never know the joy of being a parent, having a mini you who can’t wait for you to get back home after work, someone who thinks so much of you that he or she honestly believes that you wake up early and put the sun up in the sky.

There are hundreds of children who end up growing up with grandmothers in the rural areas and do not go to school but instead work in the fields or herd cattle. Their mothers leave them there to look for work or to finish their studies and their fathers are cowards who couldn’t take responsibility for their own mistakes. And then you find other women choosing to throw their children in bins and killing them, because they cannot afford to take care of them by themselves. It takes a lot for a young woman who’s just been kicked out of home because she is pregnant, with no food, no job, no money and a crushed self-esteem to raise a child on her own. It is possible, but it’s a very difficult task and having no support system doesn’t help.

So yes, I am blaming the high rate of abortions on men who refuse to grow up and take up the tasks they have brought upon themselves. I blame them for the babies who are found in toilets and in dustbins on a daily basis, for the over-crowded orphanages and for the children who end up uneducated and impoverished. If you are reading this right now and you have a baby who you do not take care of, a baby who you have not seen in years or maybe you have not even been to see at all, you are a failure and a coward, and you have a lot of growing up to do. It is only a man who admits his mistakes and takes responsibility for his actions.

So single mothers, love those babies even if their fathers are not there. Do what you have to do for them to grow up big and strong. Teach them what is right and wrong, and build them to become better men and women. Most of all, give them all the love they need and your job as a mother is done.

• Lungi Dladla is a freelance writer based in Pietermaritzburg.

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