My boyfriend left me when he found out I was pregnant. I decided to go on with my pregnancy and to raise the baby on my own. I gave birth to a son and for two years I was a full-time mom to my baby boy. I left the coffee shop I owned to my trusted employee.
I did everything by myself, with the help of my mom, because I never had a maid or nanny. Even when he was still a baby, I would talk to my son as if he understood what I was saying. He was a sweet baby, always sleeping through the night and never cranky when we’re outside of the house.
When I went to a mall or took him for an evening walk, people always said: “You have a cute baby – where is the father?”
“His father was away or die” was how I often replied just to shut people up. To most people that question might seem normal and harmless, but it hurt my feeling and often made me sad.
There was time when he would cry all day long and I didn’t know how to comfort him. When he was sick, he only wanted to sleep in my arms, crying when I put him down, which means I would sleep in a sitting position. Once I had to rush him to the hospital because he couldn’t breathe. Many times I cried at night, feeling like I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted to give up, but when I saw my baby’s face sleeping peacefully, I felt a surge of strength in me.
I told myself I had to find something to comfort me, so I started making scrapbook and a baby journal. Every picture that I put made me feel grateful, I was doing OK raising him by myself.
Entering his toddler years, I returned to my business. I took him to the shop with me and twice a week I took him to a preschool near my shop in Kemang, South Jakarta. I thought that because he spent most times with elder people, he needed to socialize with other kids, plus he could channel his interest in music at the preschool.
By 2013 my coffee shop business was not doing so well, so I had to find another job to keep it afloat. I started working two jobs, while my son started kindergarten. It was hard to balance my new job, my shop and him, much less to have a social life. Often I felt lonely and depressed. Finally, I decided to start dating again.
But it was not such a good idea. Instead of meeting someone who could comfort me, or someone who would sit with me listening to my crap, I met a parade of losers. One guy accused me of being selfish because I always put my son first. Another guy was never to be heard again after I told him I was a single mother. And yet another presumed I would be easy because I was lonely. In the end, I stopped my search for prince charming and focused on raising my son.
Meanwhile, my son, who is in kindergarten now, has become more critical and likes to ask many questions – questions that I sometimes couldn’t answer, like where God is, why we can not see him. One night before bed he popped that most-dreaded question: “Maman, where is my father? Why do I never see him? All my friends have father; why don’t I?”
It broke my heart, but I told him his father was away for work, too far away for him to see. This was enough for him then, but as he grew older, he has grown more suspicious, and I could no longer give him the same answer. So after a lot of thinking, I decided to tell him the truth.
“When I became pregnant, your and I father decided to choose a different path,” I said.
“I chose to raise you by myself. It’s not that he didn’t love you, he was just not ready to become a father. But you have much love from me, your grandparents and your friends. If you want to meet him, I’ll take you.” I said.
“I don’t want to see him now, maybe later,” he replied.
Though he never met his father, their resemblance often baffles me. They like the same sport, root for the same tennis player, and even have some similar facial expressions. Sometimes I’m amazed at how genes works.
I treat my son as my best friend. We discuss about a lot of stuff from sports to sex. I would much rather he found out about sex from me than from other people. I told him he could discuss everything with me. I also teach him to be a responsible person since early age, from tidying up his toys, turning the light off when he’s not using it, to admitting his own mistake. I told him it’s OK to make a mistake, but it’s not cool if you don’t admit it, that mistake gives us the chance to learn.
I let him make his own decision. My son loves playing football and dreams of becoming a footballer, and I support him a hundred percent. I told him he could learn a lot of things anywhere not just at school. He doesn’t have to make perfect scores at school, as long as he understands what he learns, that’s enough for me.
Because of the way I raise my son, I often have fights with my mom, who lives in the same house with me. She criticizes me for being too liberal and too open, and tells me I should be stricter with him.
“He is my son,” I told her. “I don’t want him to be afraid of me. I want him to be comfortable and open with me. He knows my rules and he follows it.”
She rolled her eyes.
It’s never easy to raise a kid on your own. I have to work hard to fulfill his needs, pay bills and entertain myself. Sometimes I wish I had partner, someone who can help me decide which school he should go to, who will take him to football practice when I can’t, or accompany me to the hospital when he’s sick. But to this day that person hasn’t materialized.
So for now, it’s just me and him against the world. I know he missed a father figure, but I believe his life is full of love and happiness.. For me, it’s enough just to see his smile and what he has achieved so far. When I’m down, he is always there to wipe my tears and tell me to be patient.
“One day, God will grant what you wish, Maman,” he would say. “Keep believing.”
I can proudly say that I’m glad that I decided to keep him and happy to live a life of a single mother. Things may not go as planned, but I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.
Rosie is a part timer in a large media company. She loves football, reading poetry and is a free spirit.