Living the single life
Four single mothers share their stories of heartbreak and the unexpected joys of being a single parent household. 

Just over half of South Africans over 25 are married or living together in long-term relationships; four percent are divorced or separated, and 10 percent are widowed. Many young women get pregnant unexpectedly without being in a stable relationship. We spoke to some single moms to find out how they are coping.

Tsholofelo Wechoemang (24)


Being a single mother was far from what I wanted. I had always imagined that when I gave birth to my first child I would be married and we would be a conventional family. This wasn’t to be though. I was 21 when I fell pregnant and in my third year of university, and that dream was shattered. However, after hearing my son’s heartbeat for the first time during a check-up I knew everything would be alright, which it has been.

My son is my joy. I love him more than anything in the world. I’ve grown up because of him; he taught me to love unconditionally. I love myself and appreciate my life more than I did before becoming a mom – life really is a blessing.

Being a single mom

My son is very energetic all the time, and with my hectic schedule he wears me out. I wish I had somebody around to help me out on those crazy days, so it gets lonely at times. I’d also love to be able to share the big moments with someone special. 

The realities 

The most difficult part of single parenthood has been the death of my family dream, and there are days when I feel I just don’t have all the knowledge I need to fully handle the responsibility of being a single parent.

I work for myself from home and before my son went to preschool it was difficult trying to be the best of both things: a mother and a professional woman. Once I knew he was okay there, I threw myself back into my work. I’m tired in the evenings though, so I’m working on finding a new work/life balance.

Support is important

My family and friends have been very supportive, going the extra mile to ensure that I have everything I need. I appreciate them even more than I did before. I have a wonderful support structure of friends and family that help me organise my schedule. I take him to school and fetch him twice to three times a week; the rest of the time they help out.

Time alone is definitely on the back burner. We spend time together every weekday evening and on the weekends. When I can’t be with him, he spends time with my family, where I know that my younger brother can play with him at his pace. They love him to bits.

What I love about it

The best part of being a single mom is that I get to see the world through my child’s eyes. I love that. He makes me smile, and it’s great to have a little ball of positivity that follows you wherever you go.

The greatest rewards are the times that he takes my face in his hands and asks me if I’m okay. Then he kisses and hugs me. This small gesture makes me feel that it’s all worth it.

Advice for single moms 

Single parenting has its ups and downs, but you can do it. Prayer has helped me: striving to be the best mom that I was intended to be is the only thing I can do. My advice is don’t shut yourself out from the world now that you’re a mother.

This is a time when you will learn a lot about yourself. Find other mommies and learn from them. Most importantly, enjoy every laugh, hug and smile with your baby, because I hear the older they get, the less they hand these out!

Heather Cameron (42)


I had an affair with a married man of which I am not proud. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. It was wrong in every sense.

Being a single mom

I was deeply shocked by my pregnancy. It scared me so much that I don’t even remember much of my pregnancy or the first few months of my daughter’s life.

I feel so different now. I would not change being a mother for anything in the world. I was petrified, but when she came into my life she changed me. I became a better person. You don’t see this when you’re scared and alone though. And by alone I mean: I had my friends and family who were wonderfully supportive, but you’re still really actually alone as a parent.

Being honest with my daughter

The most difficult part was telling my daughter why there was no dad in her life, something she started questioning at the age of three. Some say they don’t need to know right away, but you know your child, and you know when it’s the right time to tell them the truth.

Hidden challenges 

The expected challenges of being a single mother are bad enough, but the unexpected challenges hit you the hardest. You know what bills you have to pay and you budget for those, but when you get hit by an unexpected medical bill and you only have one salary – whoa, that’s tough!

Reluctant support

Even though some members of my family made it clear that they were not impressed with my situation, they helped me for the sake of my daughter, whom they loved from the moment they laid eyes on her. I am so blessed with all the friends I have who have helped wherever they could.

My sister is my champion – always fighting my battles when I don’t have the courage to and giving me financial support when needed. She remains my strength. There’s also one wonderful, loving family friend, whose daughter is one of my daughter’s best friends, who have helped with the raising and wellbeing of my daughter. Without their help, it would have been emotionally and financially so much harder than it already was.

How I cope

My daughter and I are surrounded by a huge circle of love. No one can parent on their own. You need support. And if you have no one to turn to, look to your church or a family support centre, because this journey gets rocky.

What I love about it

The best part of what has happened to me is the beautiful bond and understanding between my daughter and myself. We have each other’s backs. The greatest reward is seeing her smile every waking morning and then again in the evening when we spend time together. And oh, I love how she makes me laugh.

Making time for me 

Making time for yourself is always challenging, whether you’re a single parent or not.

My daughter goes to her friends – whose parents I know well and trust and am comfortable with – quite a lot and has been doing so from a young age. This really helps out when I need a bit of time for myself.

Getting around

In most conventional families, both parents work, and fetching and carrying is just as much a challenge for them as it is for a single mother. Most daycare centres open at 7am and stay open till 5:30pm to accommodate working parents. Once your child goes to school you will have to send them to aftercare or, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a mother or a friend willing to help out.

Advice for single moms

My advice is: never be bitter about being a single mom. There will be tough times so when things get really bad, take a step back, take a deep breath and be quiet and calm for a moment. Then pick up the phone and call a friend or close family member to talk it out with. This normally clears your head enough for you to find a solution to the problem.

Lizzy Mogale (33)


I fell pregnant during my last year of university. I was especially shocked because, after being irresponsible, I had taken the morning-after pill. It was one of those big “oops” moments in life, with serious consequences.

Early anguish

I was worried about was how I was going to tell my parents and what was going to happen to my studies. I was also worried that I was going to be suspended from res.

Being a single mom

Now that I have passed all those difficult situations and made it through them all, I wonder what I was so scared of. My son is the centre of my life and my biggest motivator. The hardest part was probably the look of disappointment on my mother’s face when I told her, not talking to my father for about a year after my son was born and having to leave my son when he was just a month old so that I could go back to university to nish my studies. My mother has always been my pillar of strength and she really came through for me. My sisters and friends have also been amazing.

Looking for love

The most unexpected challenge has been that the criteria for choosing a partner has changed completely because it’s not only about how he loves me and how I feel about him, it’s also assessing whether he will be a good father, and whether he will embrace your child as his own.

What it means to be alone

The hardest part about being a single mother is probably that I have no one to consult about the major decisions. Interestingly, being a single mother has pushed me to surrender my son to God so that he can play the role of father and role model to him.

Gratitude from experience

In hindsight, I take back those teary nights when I used to rail against being the one – out of all the sexually active students at university – to fall pregnant. I am grateful now, because I understand that not all women will become mothers, and there are some who weep privately because they cannot conceive.

What I love about it

I’m not sure the rewards of parenting are any different for a single parent than what they are for parents who are couples. Quite simply: my son makes me happy.

Advice for single moms

No matter how bad you think things are, the situation always turns out to be better than expected. Be prepared for sacrifices, for not being able to afford the luxuries your friends can. On the other hand, spending time with and money on your child is a most rewarding investment, with such high rate of return that no mathematician would ever be able to calculate it.

Zuziwe Zulu (32)


I was married to someone who could never understand the value of family life. I was left alone and it was not what I wanted. I keep wishing and hoping that their father would play a role in my children’s upbringing. I nd it hard being a single parent and I sometimes long for it to be different. Although I live with my mom and she does help, it’s not always enough. I seem to need support all the time.

Making sacrifices 

My children and I had to start living a different life because of financial pressures, and the kids had to change schools, but we’re enjoying nding ways to inject fun into our shared lives. The biggest challenges hit when the kids are sick. My son is epileptic and it has been a difficult journey, but my family and friends – the ones who really know me, my past and the pain I’ve been through – have been wonderful.

What I love

The best part of being a single mother is seeing how I can hold everything together and, of course, that I am the mother of two noble human beings. The greatest reward is the love I get from them – and probably when they tell me: “Mommy, you are the best!”

Getting around

Because I work for myself, my time is my own so I can manage the fetching and carrying. I work out a plan for activities and outings. We play together lots.

What gets me through

I salute those people who hold dear the role of parenthood. Sometimes you cry over the sacrifices you have to make (and ache for that new pair of shoes), but it’s a thing most parents have to go through and we all come out on the other side of the bad times, and our children are perfectly prepared for their future.

Read Parent24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Everything from parties to pre-schools in your area.

Jobs - Find your dream job

Property - Find a new home