Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

A single mom can be all the parent you’ll ever need

By Kap Maceda Aguila, The Philippine STAR Published May 09, 2021 10:14 am

These days, it’s almost cliché to hear, “Oh, I was raised in a single-parent household.” And more often than not, that single parent is a mother.

While I suspect there were probably just as many single mothers when I was younger, people didn’t reveal it willingly. Doubtless, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, there was that stigma.

That judgmental prism with which people view others remains today, for sure. You get prying questions or, even worse, the whole “I’m sorry for you” sentiment like it is disadvantage or a failure of some sort that you don’t have a complete set of parents. Back then, people were even less PC, less tactful.

It was common to hear: “Oh, your parents are not together? Why?” That got tiring (and boring) fairly quickly. What did my elementary-school self say? “Ah, they didn’t get along,” and left it at that. Even then, I had a keen sense of what constituted the intrusive, and I knew I didn’t owe anyone, save for my close circle of friends, any deeper insight into my life.

The author Kap Maceda Aguila as a boy, with his mother Thelma Maceda. 

My parents separated very early on, although I would see my father on occasion in my youth for “dates.” Mama approved of those, and I foolishly thought early on that it was a hopeful sign they would get back together. I used to pray every night for that—until I knew better, and that I was being a totally selfish jerk for wanting that.

Those of you who judge a single mom as an aberration or a symptom of the breakdown of the family should be ashamed of yourselves. I have long discerned that we shouldn’t force people to be together to keep up appearances or for the sole purpose of not being fodder for the rumormongers.

I am an only child of my mom Thelma Maceda and was, for a time, the only child, in the family, period. Suffice it to say that I was never wanting in attention and pampering not only from my mom but her siblings and, of course, my grandparents. I’d play my grandparents’ vinyls and “conduct” the stereophonic sounds in front of the speakers and get oohs, or plop down in front of our old Kawai organ and hammer out some “Saan Ka Man Naroroon,” and get the same rapt (apparently) audience.

My mom had me when she was only 20 years old. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we basically grew up together, making sense of life as we went along.

Given all that and an awesome mom to boot, I guess I’m more than lucky. I never felt like I missed out on anything because I didn’t have a papa to go with my Mama. I did have a male father figure in my life. That was my lolo (whom I called “Daddy”), the most sarcastically funny person ever.

I guess he also influenced my own sense of humor—along with the ripostes I sometimes should back with. It shouldn’t surprise you to know that my late Daddy once worked for a newspaper, the pre-Martial Law Manila Times. My mom said that’s also probably where I got the itch to write.

Mama would usually be out hustling at work—not as much to make ends meet, perhaps, but more to help provide for the household kitty as we both lived in my grandparents’ home.

My mom had me when she was only 20 years old. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we basically grew up together, making sense of life as we went along.

We had arguments, and some action-packed running up and down the split-level Mandaluyong bungalow when I misbehaved. More than once, my lola (whom I called “Mommy”) had to step in to act as mediator. But Mama was the boss. I could “appeal” to my grandparents, but Mama had the final say.

Growing up together: Kap and mom Thelma 

Also owing to the fact that she had me at a very young age, I know she had to sacrifice much of the customary nights out as a young adult who graduated from school and was now earning her own money—except that it wasn’t just for her anymore.

Mama grabbed life by the horns and refused to be cowed by the cards dealt her. She learned to drive at a time when lady motorists were a very uncommon sight. I’d be seated in the front passenger’s seat and noticed (rather grumpily) how many people would do a double-take as they saw her behind the wheel of her light-blue Gemini.

The Maceda family support system allowed my mom to focus most of her energies on earning a living for my tuition and toys (okay, fine, other stuff as well).

Was I spoiled? Of course, I was!

And because my mom provided not just food on the table but many other things that a kid my age desired (toys, books, and more toys), I got to enjoy that much-ballyhooed “normal childhood” previously thought to be the exclusive domain of two-parent kids. In the absence of one parent, other family members stepped up willingly.

I never felt like I missed out on anything because I didn’t have a papa to go with my Mama. I did have a male father figure in my life. That was my lolo, the most sarcastically funny person ever.

The overwhelming love and support from my mom and the Maceda family was what prompted me to insist on having “Maceda” in my byline. It’s the least I can do to show that I am forever grateful.

While my father would occasionally take me out, I remember we clashed a lot. I could get brutally frank with him, and I know I stung him more than once. At this point, he had a new family. I certainly didn’t begrudge him that. I guess there was just no point in salvaging something that essentially wasn’t there. I was an unapologetic mama’s boy, and there was neither room nor need for a patch-up.

As fate would have it, I met a very nice young lady almost two decades ago. And I found out she was in a similar situation. Joyce was, for the most part, also raised by her mom. I wouldn’t say we bonded over that, but it probably helped us understand each other’s context better.

Come to think of it, a lot of the people closest to me were brought up by single moms. It’s not like I sought them out, but the single mom may be a more common phenomenon than we thought.

And I am forever grateful to my mom for this.