Yes, that’s me with my mom, my niece, and my aunt — or better: with my family :)

What Makes Me Proud to Be A Child of A Single Mother

Life lessons can be found in any situation

Divorce is illegal in the Philippines. Yes, you read that right. The only country in the world where divorce is illegal. And let’s not forget the other place where it’s considered a crime, The Vatican.

A Filipino archbishop once quoted:

“Being a country where divorce is not legal is an honor that every Filipino should be proud of.”

This quote sends an invisible force through my back and creates a large amount of energy to make my blood reach its boiling point and erupt from my head like Mt. Tambora in 1815.

But we’re not here for that.

Now we’re here to share an experience that either you can relate to or learn from.

Since you know divorce equates to a mortal sin in the Philippines, my parents chose to annul their marriage instead. In other words, they opted to declare their marriage never existed from the beginning in front of a judge.

It’s pretty ironic because I’m aware they created me on the week of Valentine’s Day, if not on the exact day. Yet by the time I was conceived, my parents were already in the process of annulment. Sweet isn’t it?

But there are no hard feelings there.

I woke up to a world where a father’s role was non-existent. My earliest thoughts knew I had a mom, and I never questioned who plays the dad’s part, yet even wondered if there was such a thing called a father.

Since no questions were asked, my mom decided to give me all the information I needed to answer possible questions from other kids at school. And I memorized the answer well enough for every inquiry that came my way asking where my father was. I had an automated response.

Looking back, I recognized there’s beauty in being raised by a single mother or a single parent.

This is not to undermine the traditional family or any existing modern family arrangement. But there’s something special about growing up in a single parent, and more so, a female-led household.

First, you’ll see the downside to it because it’s better you also know the unwanted effects. And before you go, we’ll both look at an optimistic ending. We want to learn life lessons at the end of this. Right?

Here’s the downside.

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

Low income

A single stream of income isn’t ideal when three mouths need to be fed. I’m not saying we suffered a great deal of poverty. But during my early childhood years, it was hard to get by.

Credit loans appeared from every corner, and stress started to appear in my mom’s physical appearance in the form of lines and grey hairs. The stress genes were activated because she didn’t have time to look after herself anymore. That’s how I perceived it to be.

My mother didn’t forget about love, and we were thankful when her partner came into our life during my teenage years. Their relationship lasted long, but it didn’t stand the test of time.

Substance Abuse

I included this part even though it didn’t happen to me. It happened with my brother. And when asked why he decided to take that path, he answered peer pressure.

Up until my brother was eight years old, he lived with both parents. My mom said my dad got a bit hands-on with him when it came to teaching discipline. I never witnessed it, but the word ‘angry’ slipped from his lips when my dad came up as the conversation topic.

For five years, he was under the influence of drugs. Indeed, when life is at a low point, the days seem longer than they usually are.

He deserves credit for quitting drugs without checking himself into a rehabilitation center. It turned out he was mentally strong and resilient after all. The birth of his first daughter was the push he needed to get out of that deep and dark hole.

Trust issues

My dad fathered two more children. That’s why my mom filed for a marriage annulment. What’s interesting is that he had a daughter before my older brother was born. And had another daughter between my brother and me.

You can already imagine what happened there. Marriage annulment was the best decision to make at that point.

Growing up, I was surrounded by constant infidelity and unfaithfulness. I witnessed these situations in Filipino movies and television series.

Besides, my brother switched girlfriends as quickly as changing your mobile phone theme. He was young. And society told me this was normal for a young man of his age.

Really? Then there’s no way I’m getting a boyfriend or even worse, a husband. That’s what I thought.

Let me tell you a bit more.

My mom had her fair share of secret affairs too. Do you know stories about ‘The Other Woman’? She played that role for some time. We suffered the consequences of it, and boy was I glad it ended.

You have to know it isn’t comfortable to sleep at night when you know your presence destroys another family. It wasn’t my presence, but it was my mom’s. And that doesn’t make it any better.

To complete the circle, I also had a quick share on the role of ‘The Other Girlfriend’. I played the part out of curiosity. And cut it short because conscience kept me up at night.

If karma exists, it sure gave me the payback I deserved when my boyfriend cheated on me five years ago.

With years of experience in broken trusts, I’m in a constant battle with one of the core values of human relationships. Cultivating self-confidence helped me fight this issue. I’m proud of the result because the challenge becomes easier year after year.

I’m not saying I don’t suffer the constant doubts in my head. But I’ve learned ways to help me get past them. Besides, I have to credit meditation for playing the best supporting role along this journey.

Why am I telling you this?

Because lessons are learned from past experiences and mistakes.

Let’s move on from what makes us sad, and let’s answer this question:

What makes me proud to be raised by a single mother?

Let’s go through the life lessons, shall we?

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Resilience Is A Treasure

If you don’t belong to the upper-class society in a third world country, chances are you’re going to go through a lot of tough times in life.

This is a common scenario in the Philippines. In the country, the percentage of illegitimate children accounts for more than half of the total population.

When you’re in a family raised by a single parent, you learn to bounce back like a ball every time you hit the ground.

Do you remember the negative points when I spoke about low income and substance abuse? Those scenarios occurred in my mom’s life while raising my brother and myself.

She may have occasionally forgotten to look after herself, but today she’s like a diamond.

I witnessed how my mom jumped over every hurdle that came in her way and climbed every mountain that blocked her path. I know all parents do this to their children.

But single parents who go through challenges alone deserve the title of real-life superheroes for mustering an enormous amount of strength that usually requires two people.

After celebrating three decades of existence with massive amounts of inspiration grabbed from my mom, I can attest that resilience is a vital life skill.

Independence Is Freedom

Independence is the perfect description of a trait that all single parents have. Often placed as a skill that appears under job requirements, self-reliance helps you live a fulfilling life.

My mom was already independent in my eyes since the moment I gained consciousness.

I met my dad when I was about ten years old, although my memories were blurred. If I didn’t become a flight attendant, I wouldn’t have met him and got to know him as an adult.

Raising two children without a partner isn’t an easy feat. My mom worked long hours and still managed to spend quality time with her children. She never complained nor wished she had a husband who could balance the scales with her.

And yes, I’ve seen her in some of her lowest points. But after wiping her tears, she’s up and back to business.

Growing up, to be independent was a constant reminder from my mom. She always told me to make sure I can support myself, especially with finances. I remain faithful to this reminder today, and I’ll continue to do so for as long as I can.

To see my mom’s ability to hold herself down while bringing a family up is an inspiration. She inspired me the moment I left the country ten years ago. From my mom, I learned that independence and frugality are practical partners to have in life.

You know humans are inherently social. However, constant dependence on another person means you’ll never be able to hold your own ground. So be self-reliant. Consider independence, and soon you’ll reap the benefits.

Toxic Relationships Don’t Make You A Martyr

But healthy relationships are what we live for.

Martyrs belong to the Catholic church since they chose to live a life of suffering. And died from refusing to renounce their faith.

You know yourself enough to judge what makes you happy and what’s toxic. Leave the relationship if you stay with a person out of fear. You’re human, not a martyr.

Love is supposed to make you brave and not the other way around. It’s meant to make you feel alive, not make you fear for your life.

The annulment of my parent’s marriage was the best decision my mom made. If there was any physical abuse, I wasn’t there to witness and attest to it.

But my mom was smart, and she knew what was right. Digging through the buried past won’t help in moving towards the future.

My mom chose to enter a relationship again when I reached my teenage years. Of course, she needs romantic inspiration in her life too. She deserves it.

Single parents always say their children are the light of their lives. But sometimes, they forget romantic partners can also add sparkle to their eyes.

Children love the sparks they see in their parents’ eyes. That’s why we appreciate those people who create them.

We appreciate those who come into our lives and whose hearts are big enough to accommodate a person who comes with mini versions of themselves.

As long as the relationship isn’t hurting anyone, then we’re all in.

Tough Times Won’t Last, But Tough People Will

It’s common knowledge today that change is the only constant thing.

My mom moved on from her failed marriage, and my brother left a life of drug abuse. They went through those tough times, and in the end, they came out with stronger versions of themselves.

You may wonder if I had challenging experiences too, then yes, I started facing them alone the moment I left the country ten years ago.

As a petite Asian who experienced a #MeToo moment at some point, life wasn’t a walk in the park either. But I came out stronger than I used to be.

You have your hardships in life too, and I know you have days when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If in any way you can’t see the light at all, then please remember you have your own light inside you. It’s there, and sometimes it takes time to find it.

Don’t panic if you can’t find the light. That’s why you have your family and friends. Those who love you will never hesitate to share their light with you.

Don’t be afraid to use it because you’ll need that to find the light that’s missing from you.

And once you find it, you can build your own light at the end of that tunnel.

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

Growing up in a single-parent household gives you great life lessons if you look back. While you go through it, it’s normal to be blinded by the hardships.

If you feel different because you’re a child of a single parent, don’t be. One day you’ll look back and you’ll be proud of your journey.

Besides, nowadays single parents are common not only in the Philippines but around the world.

Why am I proud to be a child of a single mother?

Through my mom, I learned to be resilient, independent, and strong. And I wouldn’t change a thing if I had to start my life all over again.

Along with the ‘Modern Family’ structure, we know by now that a family doesn’t have to fit the traditional description.

When you have love around you, you have a family. You don’t need to have the proper labels, we’re already in the 21st century.

🇵🇭 | Ex-Cabin Crew/Current Jobseeker | Loves to write + Learns from experience = Learns & writes from experience |