Parent meetings at school were always the worst. While other kids showed up with parents, I always had one. It hurt for a few years but I soon learned the truth about why my mom raised me on her own and stopped letting it bother me.

“How do you manage raising your son alone?” They asked my mom curiously.

“Raising a child is expensive,” some declared.

“A child needs both parents?”

Really? I turned out just fine with one. Growing up, my grandparents showered me with so much love, nothing else mattered. The love and adoration didn’t end there. My mom’s work colleagues often bought me stuffed toys and gifts. This dog is one of them. His name is UnderDog. He reminds me of a time when people wrote my mother and I off. He was my first dog before Mom got us our own fur babies. He’s not the best looking dog. He can’t stand up properly, he never could but I’ve always treasured him.

“He’ll never do well at school.”

I’m an A student. Human-beings cannot predict the future, I realised at a young age. Hard work and faith in myself help me overcome learning difficulties.

So-called parenting experts blamed my tantrums on my single mother. Why? I often wondered. Didn’t all kids have tantrums. Aren’t tantrums a part of growing up? Unfortunately, nay sayers even blamed bouts of cold and flu on my single Mom.

What is wrong with a mother bringing up a child on her own? My mother is the strongest woman I know. She stood tall no matter what people said or how badly they treated her just like an underdog.

I’ve never understood why society writes off single mothers. Why do they look down on women raising kids on their own. It’s not as if it’s a new phenomenon. South African actress, Pearl Thusi rocks single parenting like a hot fashion trend. Hollywood actress, Halle Berry is another famous single mom. I’ve never understood the stigma associated with single female parents. Male single parents, however, draw swoons and whispers of admiration. Why? Regardless of gender, single parents double as both maternal and paternal role models in their child’s life. I’ve learned to ignore negative comments and questions. Sometimes, love, peace and happiness matter more than what people think or say.

Just like UnderDog, I’ve stood tall next to my taller mom. UnderDog survived 17 years by following this philosophy. So have I.