Have I forgiven my son’s father? As I pondered this question, I realized that forgiving my child’s father was less critical than forgiving myself. Forgiving myself for my choices was far more vital to my growth than absolving my child’s father for any wrong he may have done. 

Forgiving Myself Was Harder Than Forgiving Him

What else can you do with someone who has decided to be a “non-factor” in your child’s life than forgive and move on? I didn’t have time to wonder about the choices he made. I found it harder to forgive myself for the choices I made. The options that left me pregnant and alone. Accepting that this would be my story, that these choices would ensure that my child would grow up without a father, was pretty hard to forgive. I knew God had forgiven me because it says in his word, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Growing up in the church, I knew I could turn to God, and he would not turn his back on me, but why was it so hard to forgive myself? 

My Family Was Supportive

It wasn’t my family or support system. They were great, better than I expected. Telling my parents, both ministers, was very hard for me. I was so disappointed in myself and thought that everyone would be equally disappointed in me. I always wanted the “love, marriage, and a baby carriage” life. I had two notable examples of it from my parents. My parents were remarkably supportive when I begrudgingly told them I was pregnant and not to expect much from the baby’s father. My dad responded, “Well, you’re not a teenager, and you have your degree. You’ll be alright.” Yeah, my parents are awesome! 

Remembering What I’m Made Of

It’s true. I was taking steps to prepare myself to take on the world of work and make it by myself. I was 28 when I became pregnant in 1999. I had just graduated with my undergraduate degree and was in the midst of my second term at AmeriCorps service. Yes, I was 28 and just got my degree seven years after I graduated high school. I took the alternative route to get there, but that’s another story. The gift of persistence has come in handy when raising a child alone.

Single mom Ebony Pugh shares her story on forgiving herself and embracing single motherhood.Forgiving Myself For My Choices 

While I was successful in some areas of my life, one area of weakness was always my choice of men. Not that they were all losers or anything like that, they just weren’t the right men for me. My child’s father was no different than the series of unfortunate choices I made in this area. I will give myself some credit. I recognized my error in judgment very quickly, but not soon enough. Well, then again, I would not have my son, so maybe I discovered that the relationship wasn’t meant to be right when I should have.

This is the often-circular conversation I have with myself. Why forgiving myself is so hard. 

Of course, I would have preferred to have a child in wedlock, well, at the minimum, with someone I was currently in a relationship with. I had stopped seeing my child’s father before I found out I was pregnant, and being pregnant would not change our status. I knew I would be on my own from the moment I found out I was pregnant. Of course, I contemplated the alternatives, but I don’t like to talk about that because to second guess my decisions or wish away the scenario brought on guilt. I would never wish away the result – my son. 

What I Find Hard As a Single Mother 

There is no sugarcoating it. Raising a child alone is hard. And it’s not hard in the traditional ways that come to mind-–time and money. Yes, time and money are challenges. Gone were the days of going to the bathroom with the door closed (time), and quickly came the days of robbing Peter to pay Paul (money). But having the sole responsibility for the life prospects of a human being made being a single mom so hard. I sought input from my parents and good friends, but ultimately the decisions were mine. Let’s face it; it’s much easier to share the responsibility for the outcomes of any judgment with someone else. Where will we live? What school will he attend? Who will babysit? Being solely responsible for the answers was hard, but forgiving myself prepared me to make these decisions and accept the outcomes. 

I always thought I was well equipped for the raising kids part of life. 

I started babysitting in middle school, worked as an early childhood teacher for ten years, and served as a camp counselor and mentor to teenagers. I took certification classes and read countless books. I knew reading to my child while in and out of the womb was beneficial, that I needed to limit his caffeine intake, and that young minds learn through play. None of this prepared me for the curve balls that would come my way more than forgiving myself. 

Ebony's son says "my mom is independent" when asked to describe her. The Good Things About Single Motherhood 

Life has had some selfish benefits for me as a solo mom. I only have the challenges many co-parents have regarding custody, child support, or awkward encounters. I’ve been pretty stress-free in the baby daddy area. I know this is a selfish benefit, as I’m sure my son would have preferred to have his father in his life, but I’m a glass-half-full person, so that’s how I look at it. 

So, yes, I have forgiven my son’s father, but I’m not the one who really needs to forgive him. Really, how important is my forgiveness to anyone but myself? The wrong against me pales compared to the wrong done to my son, but that’s not my story, so we’ll have to unpack that some other day. For now, I forgive myself, and I give myself grace. 

Read more of the Single Mom Personal Essay series.