(This story was submitted anonymously)
And here it began, 2006 and suddenly the future and world I knew, forever changed.
I was no longer a hardworking teenager with a future of travelling and fulfilling my dreams as a doctor, those dreams were over.
Instead here I was sitting in an ICU wing of a maternity hospital being told my new baby was sick. Suddenly my world was all about feeding tubes, breast feeding and not knowing if my baby was going to be ok.
The dreams of becoming a doctor and seeing the world were replaced with the worrying thoughts of what can I now do to provide a quality of life worthy for this precious new little fighter.
Roll on a month later, finally all clear for the baby and so arriving home, be it with meds and a few months of checkups a new life began.
Suddenly a Mother, nineteen years of age, no longer that young woman enjoying the world with dreams of university and travel. As I sat doing another night feed I looked down upon the giant beautiful blue eyes of my daughter and out loud I said to her
"I promise you, I will succeed at my dreams with you by my side and I will make sure any dreams you have, I will help you reach them"
And with that I cried. I fell asleep crying, not from the emotional drainage of having a new baby, no but with the sadness that in this country, the opportunity to succeed as an off spring of generations of hard working class people, and not that of a "higher class, silver spoon fed family", meant that keeping my promise was something that I could not guarantee, but if it killed me I would fight until my last breath to try do.
The very next day I began making my plans, ok so I couldn’t become a doctor (reasons as to why will become clear as you read more) but I still had a drive in me to help others and I knew I wanted to become something in the medical field. Watching the nurses especially in the ICU, and how passionate, caring and loving most of them were, and how they genuinely loved those babies fueled my need to help others even more intensely.
At this stage I had moved into my own place, I had my beautiful baby, I was engaged, I had support and I felt ready to take on my dreams again.
This is when life throws its curve ball and sadly like many a young Mum, the relationship broke down and I was alone in parenthood and this starts the stigmatizing still faced in Ireland's society today.
Four years later, I had a school child, I'm a one parent family, the support I had was gone. I had to quit college. I had to suddenly go from a prosperous future to now having no college, no work just a measly social payment and a child to try support.
You see what people forget is our system does not supply proper help for people in them situations. You hear endless TD'S motor on about childcare supplements, endless social welfare courses and grants but those who have tried to avail of these services soon face a harsh reality.
Have you ever seen the actual offers of courses for these single Mothers? To give you a brief insight, hairdressing, childcare, computer; that is basically your options, or you can opt for a selected limit of other bullshit!!!
I remember inquiring about what options are there for people like me who want to become a nurse or doctor? I was met with a blank stare followed by a "oh we don’t deal with that kind of option" response.
I then asked why there was no options for childcare after certain times or why we didn’t have options to study as lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers just because we sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances had to rely on government support? If you think they had an answer your right they did, "talk to the government" that was the answer.
After going for endless meetings and to every person including local council men and women for help, I gave up. The depression then followed, fueled by a mixture of single parenthood and feeling like a failure.
The number of employers who are afraid to take on an intelligent, hardworking, prosperous and determined single parent is sad.
They, along with government fuel societies bad view of us single Mothers and Fathers, because there are Fathers also who raise their kids alone. (My anger at how these single good Fathers are left out in as issue for a later date so for now I shall stick to single Mothers).
The sad fact is that it’s a revolving door of shit!
You get trapped in the social system and the longer you're out of work or college, the less likely you are that an employer will support you and take a chance and thus single Mums end up stuck in the fishing net of the welfare.
Before I get the "single Mams want to sit at home all day watching Jeremy Kyle" replies, I am fully aware every tree has their bad apples, but most of the single Mums out there want a good job and to provide a good future for their children and a good role model to which their children can look up to and inspire to be.
So little support for those who want and yearn to have a better life. A life of which they dream of having their name called out in front of their families and friends, and their children especially, as they get handed their diplomas and degrees etc for achieving their dreams.
Have you ever stopped to think how many of our societies single mothers are left to be nothing more than wasted talents and opportunities?
How many of these women are strong, determined and extremely bright individuals who could be a much needed and vital addition to our economy?
Think about it!
These are women who are merely stopped becoming scientists, doctors, nurses and lawyers etc and why?
Is it because their lazy and just want to sit home all day watching daytime tv?
Some of you may say yes but I guarantee if you surveyed all the single mothers the overwhelming majority would tell you they want and wish they had the means and opportunities to further their future and more so provide a bright and secure future for their children.
So who is at fault, the employers who won’t take a risk on training these bright women or wont help support them by taking a chance or the government?
In my opinion it falls to the government. They are the ones who could end stigma and judgement. They are the ones with the power and resources to make a change.
Why not set up programs for mothers to have training in good jobs by encouraging employers to get involved?
Why not offer and supply courses in top earning jobs like doctors, lawyers and teachers etc?
This is 2017, is it still a case of lobbing single mothers into a lower class box like the old days?
Ok we got rid of the homes for unwed Mothers, but that doesn’t mean the problems are not still there. If we don’t take a stand and change the system and opinions of society and provide better opportunities for our own people, what hope are we giving their children.
The very children who, like my own daughter have so much to give?
My own child has a high IQ, she is determined to become a teacher, reads dickens and books of culture and world history etc and has everything it takes to become a teacher but the sad reality is unless the government changes its outlook and help for single mothers like me, what are the odds that the bright and determined children of our future will achieve their potential?
Why should a child of a higher class family have more options than that of working class?
In a decade were all sexual preferences, non gender conforming and all types of people are either giving the same equal treatment or at least making progress in getting equality, then why is it still the single mothers lobbed together in the same box of being no good?
What will it take to change society’s views?
In my opinion it will take people like me, people who are your friends, your family, your neighbor who are good, smart and proud determined people and people like you reading this.
Men, teenagers, our elderly and women to stand up and say you know what, this needs to end. We need to fix our country, take a stand, end stigmas and together make our leaders listen so even if we cannot provide this generation with opportunity, then at least we can leave our mark for our kids and grand-kids.
How great would it be if we could proudly say we changed the system and who knows, maybe even in five, ten or twenty years time, we can sit with tears of pride in our eyes watching our future generations graduate as they become doctors or scientists who could go on to find cures for illnesses and know that all people from all classes have finally be giving equal opportunity.
So whats stopping us? All it takes is support for each other and so I ask those who read this to please show support, lets spread this and open a discussion and get notice on an issue that is vital. Lets not leave another generation to handle this problem, this is our country, our people and its our responsibility to make our society is one to be proud of.