There are many occasions when Mona Davis, a Fresno State student and single mother, contemplates quitting school.
“With the financial issues I face every year and the never-ending homework pile, I start to feel helpless and that the best way to move forward is to just quit,” Davis said.
Each time these thoughts creep into her mind, she looks at her 4- year-old daughter Cynthea and remembers why she is pursuing a higher education.
“Every time I see her, I remember why I’m here. She’s the most important reason why I’m going to school. I know in my heart I can’t just quit,” she said.
Davis is constantly trying to balance school work and the challenge of being a single mother.
At Joyce M. Huggins Early Childhood Center, 36 of the 118 children enrolled in the program are raised by a single parent.
The Joyce M. Huggins Childhood Center is one of three child daycare facilities located on the Fresno State campus.
Raised by a single mother herself, Davis always felt stigmatized by her peers as a child. Because of this, she prefers to leave her daughter with her mother.
“I’m a little afraid to take Cynthea to daycare because I feel that, like me, she will be treated differently because she only has one parent,” Davis said. “It’s hard enough with her asking me three times a day where her dad is. It will be harder taking her to a place where she will see two parent families dropping off their kids. I don’t want her to feel left out.”
Catherine Mathis is the program director of the Early Education and Care services on campus. Mathis doesn’t want single mothers like Davis to feel ostracized and has a mission when it comes to helping all parents on campus.
“The most important thing we want is for parents to continue their education. We understand that families come in all types,” Mathis said. “That’s what we try to emphasize. That’s why we are here.”
Along with economic and other issues, some single parents are also victims of stereotypes.
Elizabeth Swearingen, a women’s studies professor on campus, gave an explanation as to why there are stereotypes when it comes to single motherhood.
“I think that the stigmas of single motherhood are stemmed upon wealth and class,” Swearingen said. “Single mothers aren’t considered to be living the ideal life, which would include a husband and financial stability.”
“The day I told my mom I was pregnant was the day that put an end to our relationship,” Fresno State student Dashjuana Hill said. “It’s been three years since I had my son and I can’t even ask her to watch him without her scolding me on my bad choices, especially me having a baby.”
Juggling society and economic strains have become a regular for many single parents.
“Even though I have a job, trying to figure out ways to pay for books, rent, gas, bills and daycare gets really stressful. Right now I’m living paycheck to paycheck because there’s no room for anything in between,” Davis added.
“Sometimes it amazes me that I’m able to go to work, write a five-page paper, cook dinner and read my daughter a bedtime story all in one night,” Hill said. “When those days happen I feel like a proud mom.”