I am a single working traveling mother and my son is thriving thanks to…
The boy started a new school today. I called Accra from Freetown so I could be part of his first day at a new school. ”What question do you want to ask me?” is what he said when he got on the Whatsapp video call.
”I'll ask you after school Olu, I just wanted to say have a good day at school.”
He smiled. He had on a green tie, pressed shirt, and shorts. I felt no guilt or regret for not being there, my son has a village of love and support.
I am eternally grateful for his village which in Ghana includes my mom, nanny, sister, and PA. They researched the school options, they found the right one. They registered him, I supplied the funds, they got him ready, and boom he is off to school today, like a big boy in a school bus that the school provides for a fee (so worth it!).
I travel a lot for work but I wouldn't be able to do so with peace of mind if I didn't have a village to help me. I can't even imagine motherhood without help. I could not be me, do what I do, if others did not give time and care to my son. I know many raise children on their own but let's be honest, NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO. We need others to help in the care, to help with their time, and to help with their guidance.
Yes ever so often I get overwhelmed and cry and wonder how my absence might be affecting my son but everytime I go back home, I meet Olushola better than I left. My working mom guilt is less and less. My mom moving in with us was the best thing that ever happened for both my son and I.
However, I am acutely aware that having my mom is a privilege. First off SierraLeone’s life expectancy is 53, my mom is 63. My mom is also literate. This means she can read bedtime stories when I'm not there. My mom is retired and on a pension so it means she doesn't need to work and can care for my son.
I am truly blessed. While being a single parent is not ideal for my son, he is thriving. In the absence of his father, I reached out to my older brother Carl, and asked him if he could be a father figure in my son’s life.
It was an emotional call for us both but as a parent you have to think of your child’s present and future wellbeing. At 3.5 years old, Olu doesn't yet know or understand the absence of his father but he will grow up one and he will know. He needs a father figure, in fact multiple. And as he grows I will look from the army of men I love and admire to be male role models to him.
My brother has raised two beautiful sons who are in their late teens. He is the kind of man I would want my son to be; kind-hearted and generous. He will be that male presence Olu needs today and later. The night before I called my brother I cried. I thought about how happy and balanced my son was but then I was quickly saddened by the fact that he will grow and realize his father was not in his life. How will not having a male figure in his life effect is inner joy? How will that offset the balance he has now? What can I do mitigate for this?
I cant change what is. However, but I can take actions for what is to be. I can find father figures for my son. No one can replace anyone’s father but any one can be father-like and provide that bond. My grandmother was more my mother than my own mother. My brother can and will love my son like a father without being his father. They can get to know each other as nephew and uncle and he will be there for Olu as he grows and has questions that I can not answer.
My job is not to be everything to my son. I see my role as one to connect him to the people, experiences, values, and ideas that will increase his well being. This means a village of people who love and support him and will be there for him even when I can not be.
My son is thriving and it is because I have a village.