This is Ashley. Ashley is a single mother to a boy named Aiden. She lives in a one-bedroom apartment above an antique store downtown with her son and her cat, Ralph, whom she’s had as a constant best friend since she was a child herself.
Ashley, Ralph, and Aiden spend most of their nights alone together. Although Ashley is young and most of her friends still lead very active social lives, Ashley’s nights are full of caring for her obligations at home and her days are often spent working. Ashley works two jobs. She has a full-time job in a record store. The money she earns from the record store helps to pay the bills. She is able to afford rent, her phone bill, and her utilities without needing any assistance.
She works her second job- two nights every weekend- at a diner. Her parents babysit Aiden while she works this job. Originally, they offered to babysit him for free on weekends so she could spend time with her friends. Instead, Ashley chooses to use her free weekends to earn a second paycheck, which helps her to afford the cost of day care for her to work the first job.
She is often told by her parents and friends that she should pursue child support from Aiden’s father. However, Ashley knows that Aiden’s father does not want to help support his son and she is afraid of inviting him back into their lives because he is known to hurt those who are close to him.
Ashley’s friends don’t spend a lot of time keeping in touch with Ashley anymore. At first, they tried to convince her to come out with them. Over time, though, they got tired of Ashley always saying no. They felt like Ashley was no longer interested in being a friend, so they allowed their relationships with her to unravel. Ashley never complains, but she feels left behind by her friends and family. She often feels like she is very alone in the world.
Ashley is devoted to her job as Aiden’s mother, but she and Aiden do struggle to find balance in their lives. Aiden misbehaves at day care because he is sad that he can’t spend more time with her. The day care workers blame Ashley for his behavior and sometimes make her feel like she is doing a poor job of parenting, although Ashley is doing all that she can. Ashley feels like she is failing Aiden. Meanwhile, Aiden feels like his mother is the only person in the world he can trust because he doesn’t know many others.
Do you know a single mother? Do you think that sometimes they might also feel like Ashley? How can we help other young, single mothers that are in her position? What about Aiden? Are there programs in your community where you could volunteer to ensure that children like him are getting the help and attention they need while their mothers are busy working?