|Esperanza and son, Julián, pictured in the middle,|
with Young Women United's birth collective.
When I hear others discussing the challenges of single motherhood, the conversation is usually centered on financial issues or time and energy. However, as a single mother myself; it’s really the emotional hardship that has had the greatest impact on me. While I am so grateful for the amazing support of family, it’s not the same type of relationship one would have with a partner raising a child together. These experiences have inspired me in the work I do now with Young Women United’s birth collective.
Starting in pregnancy, I knew I was going to be raising my child without a partner and I continue to be a single mom of a five-year-old today. I’ve definitely had my moments of crying, feeling different than others and wanting my son to have two parents who love him, like other kids have. The hardest part is my son seeing other families with dads and expressing how much he wishes he had a dad too. I remind him—and myself—of the people we are surrounded by that love us unconditionally. But those sad feelings still seem to creep up on us despite all the love in our lives.
Sharing and reliving my experiences of having the blues during pregnancy and postpartum hasn’t been easy to do or even admit to, but I know that it’s healing for me and it helps other single moms know that they are not alone. When someone comes and asks me in confidence for emotional support to talk through challenges of being a single mom, I’m grateful that they have someone to confide in. I know how much I could have used someone like me to talk to when going through those hard times, or even the happy times.
If anything, I am reminded of how important it is that we, as birth workers, are intentional about including different types of families and structures into the work that we do. I remember attending childbirth classes while pregnant that centered on techniques for couples and walking out crying and frustrated. As a birth companion now, I never want someone to feel left out because they don’t have a partner or are LGBTQ. That’s why I’m so excited that as a birth companion within YWU’s birth collective, we pour our love, time, and energy into supporting families that are often marginalized in society. It also serves as a personal reminder that I am free to be myself and that my own family is important too.
Esperanza is the mother of 5-year-old, Julián, a Mamas Justice Organizer at Young Women United, and a birth companion and breastfeeding counselor in YWU's birth collective.
This blog post is part of the Strong Families Mama’s Day Our Way celebration. You can read more posts in the series on the Strong Families blog. Strong Families is a national initiative led by Forward Together. Our goal is to change the way people think, act and talk about families.