Blog Motherhood

The Single Mother

When I became a mother, I seemed to find myself enveloped by the arms of motherhood. I joined that hood. I became an honorary member. Bound by birth stories and sleep deprivation. It completely changed my perception of so many things. And so I found my place in the ranks. 

But, and I feel that I should whisper this almost, I do feel quite sad about the perception of single mothers.
I do. 
I’ve had lots of support, from so many people. 
But you also become aware of lots of preconceptions, ideas, thoughts. Perhaps not intentionally. But you do. 
For one – the pity. It’s hard. It’s hard seeing that sudden wash of “poor love” fill someone’s eyes. And you find yourself going: “No! Honestly, I’m happy. This was the best decision for us all!” And yet it just sounds a bit like you are desperately trying to defend yourself, which is an altogether more depressing scenario. When I say that I am much more content, I mean this. I do! Christ, I do.
I was explaining to my mum recently, explaining just how I feel. I’m the biggest romantic out there, who really does want to find her ‘him’. Her Noah Calhoun. Her Johnny Castle. Her Romeo (bad example perhaps, but we’ll work with it). I really do believe that, one day, I’ll have that kind of love that takes my breath away. But I don’t need a man. I don’t need a man to survive. I mean, I’ve changed wires in fuse boxes, while pregnant, in the dark, stood on a box. I am, and have always been, fiercely independent and, perhaps frustratingly, very proud too. 
But the pity is hard to take. It makes me want to shut down a little. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me friends, or family. I’m really okay. Better than. Because I made the decision to be happier. We both did. 
Of course I relish the family unit. Of course I want to curl up on a sofa with a belly full of a roast dinner and watch a movie, while the kids play nicely together. Of course I want to have those late-night conversations in bed, the sort you would only ever have with that person. Of course I’d like to become a mother for the second, third, however many times. 
But single motherhood is great too. I do have moments of pure me-time. Where I have full control over what film I watch that night. Or I can paint my nails with no one complaining about the overwhelming pear drop smell. I’m learning how strong I am. I’m feeling increasingly proud of my efforts in my career. I know I’ll be lonely sometimes. I know I might struggle. I know I have to handle the sleepless nights on my own, but I’m prepared for that. William’s my son. Who else would wipe the tears away?
Speaking of my son. My wonderful, silly, counting-to-ten, daft as a brush, spins-round-in-circles little boy. Don’t pity him. I will certainly never come between him and his father – he has a good father who loves him very much. There are things that I can never give William, that only his dad can, and vice versa. You will not hear me utter a bad word about him. You will only ever hear me celebrate their relationship. 
What loss is to be had in growing up with two happy parents? A possibility of two happy families of which you belong to both? I have many friends who have reached out to me and said that I should ignore what the doubters say, that they were much happier once their parents had split, and wish that they had done so sooner. And I think they are better qualified than any to base a decision on. A mummy and a daddy does not a happy family make. Families come in so many different shapes and sizes and the world is all the better for it. 
And the last thing, the thing that is probably the most sad, is the idea that we didn’t try hard enough. That perhaps we rushed. Or made mistakes. Or that we should never have bothered in the first place. No one ever gives their heart away with a guarantee. There is no love insurance. You get your achey, breaky heart and you have to find a way of mending that yourself. There’s no Love Doctor. Or Cupid’s Arrow you can buy. You take a chance on love and you squeeze your eyes shut and you cross those fingers and you hope and pray with all of your might that it won’t end. 
But it does sometimes.
It’s not discounted. Not all of it. It’s not a mistake. 
A lesson maybe. 
But not one we learn from. Because who ever does learn from matters of the heart? 
You throw yourself back into life. 
You hope for the best.
And you live it.
And besides, I can now dance and sing along wholeheartedly to Beyoncé’s Single Ladies. And there’s never anything wrong with that. 

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  • Reply
    29th January 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Hi this is such a lovely relatable post. I'm a single mum too have been right since the beginning. Agree with everything you say 🙂 so good to hear positivity as I agree lots of people who aren't around you or in the same situation do automatically pity just because they can't see how great it is to not have to share all the time!!! 🙂 x

  • Reply
    Faded Seaside Mama
    29th January 2014 at 11:04 pm

    I love the strength and tenacity that comes over in this post. You will not only survive, you will thrive I am certain as there's was not a decision taken lightly or in naivete. You already sound so much happier and that can surely only increase with time. Well done for taking a step into the great unknown for the good of your family. And for being the standard by which we should all live and consider before we make assumptions. Xx

  • Reply
    Chloe West
    30th January 2014 at 1:01 am

    This is great. I'm a single mom too. It's a bummer that things turned out the way they did, and it most definitely wasn't my decision to end the relationship, but now I'm glad it happened. We weren't as compatible as we should have been and now we get to find the ones that we are compatible with. I fought to keep my family together though and I hate the idea that people get, thinking that I must not have tried hard enough, because I most definitely did. You can't be the only one fighting though.

  • Reply
    Crafts on Sea
    30th January 2014 at 3:57 am

    This is such a great post. My parents are divorced and I've had so many 'awwww poor you, it must be soooo hard's' over the years. It's not hard at all, it's infinately better to teach your kids that you should only stay with someone if you really love them, and that actually your own company is perfectly good too.

  • Reply
    Molly Forbes
    30th January 2014 at 11:57 am

    Hurrah! What an empowering post. Far, FAR better to be single and happy than in a relationship and miserable. You made a brave decision – and by no doubts the best decision – for you, your family and that gorgeous boy of yours. Here's to the beginning. xxx

  • Reply
    30th January 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Yippi! I made the same decision with Eldest and her dad. It was the best thing I've ever done. I met Mr. M and continued on to have a happy little family. It wouldn't have been possible if we had stayed in the horrid rut. I LOVED being a single parent a lot of the time! Eldest was my little sidekick and we got on brilliantly. The pity does get a little hard to swallow and they never truly believe you are happy until you end up with someone else – shocking.

    It is always better your children see you happy – that is something they can always aspire to.
    I could go on for days. I love this post so very, very much. x

  • Reply
    Lottie Lomas
    30th January 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Hooray! You're absolutely right on so many counts. I split from my husband a year ago and yes, my kids are happier, simply because their parents are happier. It can work! Well done you – and good luck for the future. It will be good. xxx

  • Reply
    Josie Hendrick
    30th January 2014 at 6:18 pm

    I don't pity you Charlotte, but I do admire you. For your honesty and bravery, not because you're a single mum. And I love the way you write too.

  • Reply
    31st January 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Love this post! Glad you're happy with your decision, instead of thinking "what if".
    For a long time growing up I was convinced my parents would be happier if they separated. Together or seperate, you just swap one set of problems for another, and I think it is up to the couple to decide which problems are easier to cope with!

    Well done for keeping things amicable enough to allow William to have his dad in his life 🙂

  • Reply
    Vicki Psarias
    31st January 2014 at 4:30 pm

    A beautiful post and you are so right, no one would be content in an unhappy marriage. You are a brilliant mum (and writer) and your son is lucky to have you…x (Honest Mum)

  • Reply
    Alex Gladwin
    31st January 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Charlotte I just admire you. This is a great post. x

  • Reply
    3rd February 2014 at 3:34 pm

    What a wonderful post! I would not greet you with pity but rather more in awe at your bravery to make the right decision, an amicable one by the sounds of it, for your child 🙂

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