Lifestyle / Family

Zeenah Rahim
5 minute read
13 Jan 2020
9:45 am

Raising two boys as a single mom

Zeenah Rahim

Being a single mother is never easy and this mom talks about raising her boys on her own for eight tough years.

My ex-husband and I finalised our divorce in 2007 when my two sons were very young.

Aashiq was in grade 1 and Riyaald was three years old. We had tried to work on our marriage for more than two years (for the children’s sake) until I eventually built up the courage and independence.

I had secured stable government employment in 2005 and I had worked hard to gain financial stability for my sons and myself to finally walk away. My boys and I moved in with my parents immediately, as I knew that I was going to need endless support during this time and a strong support system.

This was a difficult time. I was depressed. My kids missed their dad. We had to start from scratch.

My colleagues were very supportive during this difficult time. I would be at work and immediately they would have someone take me home. I will never forget how empathetic they were towards me when I felt most alone. They had assisted me and encouraged me to take advantage of the Employee Wellness Program, which offered free counselling for my kids and me.

I received help from a psychologist and my kids were seeing someone too. Day-to-day duties as a single parent are no different than they are for a married one: coping with sleeplessness, finding child care and paying bills – except that you are alone.

The day I decided to walk away was the day I decided to take on the role of two parents, and it was absolutely exhausting. My focus now was myself and my children.

To prevent me from slipping further into depression and self-pity, I decided to revert my focus to something else. I enrolled at a university and started studying further. I completed my National Diploma in Office Management and Technology.

I was so proud of how far I have come. I had turned a negative life experience into positive and successful achievements. In earlier years, divorce had a stigma associated with it and I found myself hiding from my distant family. I was not ready for uncomfortable situations or questions and was not ready to explain to everyone where my husband was.

I avoided all family gatherings for at least two years. It really was my time to find my new self and instead surround myself with emotionally generous colleagues and friends that boosted my confidence. Besides the divorce stress, I was working full time; I was a single mother and a part-time student.

With all of this, I had to still battle my now ex-husband in court for maintenance, which was in itself a daunting and frustrating experience.

Financially, I was struggling. I felt that there was always pressure to try to better the current circumstances. Every parent wants the best for their child and this is even more demanding when you are a single parent. Fortunately, there was no custody case as my ex-husband was happy with seeing the boys only every second weekend.

It broke my heart to see my kids miss their dad. These kids were used to seeing their dad when they woke up and when they fell asleep. My kids were my world and I couldn’t help but wonder on a regular basis if my kids were going to be ok.

In a few years, I was promoted at work. I had bought myself my own vehicle and could now afford to purchase my own house. We moved into our new two-bedroom house and my kids couldn’t be happier. I was basically a new-and-improved version of myself.

I had more single and single-mother friends. Majority of single moms are the breadwinners, we have no choice but to work and some days this would fill me with resentment and frustration. Many days were filled with mixed emotions. Being a parent (whether you are single or not) has its insane moments and we all know there are times when we want to shout, cry, run away and tell our kids that they are crazy. It’s perfectly normal and ok to lose your cool sometimes; this doesn’t make you a bad parent. The most important thing you can do when you temporarily lose it, is to remind your children that it’s not their fault.

I had “me time” every second weekend when my kids were at their dad. I was totally adamant I wouldn’t marry again but I met Bashier through my brother in 2009, who was his colleague at the time. We reconnected in 2014. At the time my boys were 14 and 11. He’s the most amazing, kind-hearted man, and hadn’t been married before, nor did he have any kids. Fast forward to today… Aashiq is now 18 and studying fitting and turning and Riyaald is in grade 9.

Recently their father is more involved in their lives and we have embraced this; they still spend every second weekend with him and are with him during most school breaks. I remarried in 2015; Bashier and I have a 2-year-old toddler and 1-year-old set of twins. We are now a family of 7. I’m a different kind of parent now. The two older boys adore their little brothers. They are planning their futures together as siblings – it’s wonderful to watch them all. Today I look at life differently; I have been given a second chance at love. Being a single mother was difficult, it made me stronger and it makes me appreciate my family and husband even more.

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I am Zeenah, a parent blogger from Cape Town and my family consists of two teenage boys, a two-year-old toddler, twin baby boys and a loving, supportive husband. I have remarried after being a divorced, single mother for eight years. I am also the founder of the group, Twin Parents CPT, an exclusive group of ±230 twin parents from Cape Town. I love life and have embraced the lessons that I have learnt from my challenges, I love sharing my experiences and cherish the exciting moments that life throws at me every day