Fiction tells the truth about single mothers

03/19/2014 4:35 PM

03/19/2014 4:37 PM

When I was 18, pregnant and unmarried, I was quickly told by relatives I wasn’t going to be anything more than a welfare recipient. I was kicked out of the house, then later whisked away from high school to attend a special school for pregnant teens. I became invisible, and no one wanted to talk about it because the subject was considered taboo.

Now thanks to Tyler Perry’s new movie, “The Single Moms Club,” it isn’t.

The film, which opened March 14, is based on the complex lives of five single mothers. They come together after their children, who attend the same school, get in trouble together. The women form an unlikely friendship and quickly bond over the daily challenges they face as single mothers. The movie also acknowledges the different types of single mothers – divorced, unwed and mother by choice (sperm donor). Race and class separate the mothers in the movie, but they experience similar issues.

Although Perry’s movie is fiction, it offers an accurate portrayal of some single mothers. On March 15, I had an opportunity to talk to four single mothers during “The Real Truth About Single Motherhood” conversation series. I created the series because I know what it’s like to feel alone and overwhelmed by mommy duty. I wanted to bring single mothers together to provide emotional support and solutions to help them cope when they are feeling frustrated.

I’m a divorced mother of three. When my children were younger, I’d put on my best face, trying to pretend like I had it all together.

Aren’t mothers supposed to be pillars of strength and wisdom at all times?

The reality was I was stressed because my son was having problems in school. I often needed to be in two places at the same time. I worried about what to juggle so I could pay for a $250 field trip for one daughter. There was no child support. I felt alone. And I was too ashamed to ask for help. I often wish I had a support system to guide me through those uneasy times. I wish I had a single mom’s club.

The women I talked with last week were ages 24 to 46. They faced similar situations such as managing guilt, dealing with their child’s father, and balancing family and personal time. At one point, one of the mothers cried because she was uncertain about the choices she was making for her five children. I know how that feels. When guilt nearly overwhelmed me I had to remind myself that I was doing the best that I could. So, on Saturday when the mother of five cried, we cried too, and we hugged her and gave her the emotional support she needed. She told us it felt good to know other single moms understood what she was going through.

“The Single Mom’s Club” may be fictional, but watching it made me feel as if parts of my own life were being portrayed on the big screen. Single mothers have been made to feel ashamed about their situations for so long. This movie lifts that shame and gives insight into what many single mothers go through and how there is a need for support not judgment.

While the movie isn’t perfect, it starts an important conversation about what it means to be a good mother.

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