Soon it is September, my birthday happens to be in September. Thinking of birthdays it reminds me of my most memorable birthday, which actually happens to be my least memorable of all.
My 17th birthday.
I was up at 5am out in the fresh morning air with a hose and bucket of pooey cloth nappies which had been soaking over night. I was rinsing them out to put into the washing machine, so I could get a load out onto the line later in the day between feeds, changes and cuddles.
As I was hosing baby poop into the garden, my nan popped her head around the corner and said ‘Happy Birthday.’
Weird, I’d totally forgotten, Bella was only 12 days old. A couple of years ago I probably would have thrown a tantrum and demanded presents and cake but I was a mum now.
Nothing else mattered except my baby.
That day came and went as all the others from then have, but the lesson I learnt that day will remain.
Nothing matters except my baby.
Even if it meant being a single mum.
I’ve gotten many emails from single mums. They worry they won’t meet anyone, they worry they aren’t enough for their kids, they feel inadequate. Amongst many other things.
Most single mums also feel looked down upon.
I know how they feel.
People need to understand that being a single mum is hard, but manageable. People need to understand that there are usually good reasons why a mum is single. Sometimes the dad leaves and sometimes the mum leaves.
Mum usually has the responsibility rasing that child or children.
A single mum is brave and strong. She has made the choice for the happiness, safety and wellbeing of not only herself but her child, if she decides to leave. I know from experience that there is a stereotyping that happens when you’re a single mum, not always but sometimes people wonder what you did wrong, they question your parenting skills, they wonder if you know what you’re doing, they think you made a ‘mistake’ and are incompetent.
The only thing harder than being a single mum is being a ‘partnered’ single mum.
A partnered single mum is a mum who is parenting all on her own but happens to be in a relationship. She gets no help, no support. I know plenty of these. Sometimes these are the mums who shun or judge single mums, in my opinion I think it is because they themselves aren’t in a happy place and resent the mum who has stood up for herself and her child, these mums think all that matters is appearance, these are usually the mums who get married, live unhappily and in the end their child is the one who suffers.
At different points in my previous relationship (see mummy must read) I thought that perhaps I should just shut up and stay in that relationship. I thought it would be easier for Bella as she’d accepted the situation, I’d had Sophie and Violet was on the way. I was totally miserable but I worried about what people would think, what would they say about me?
More kids, another ruined relationship.
In the end, my unhappiness and the thought of my daughters growing to watch their own mum be treated badly by the one whose meant to love her most; I was setting a terrible example. That was more important to me than what others thought.
A lot of people think single mums do a great job but there are some who like to asses the situation not the people involved as individuals.
What people think of you doesn’t matter in the slightest as long as you are happy. This took me a long time to come to terms with. I still wait until I know someone well enough before I tell them my story. I’m not ashamed like I once was, I am now very proud of the choices I have made in the past but I am well aware of how some people judge things too soon.
Things aren’t always as they seem.
It is easy to place people in categories.
I used to worry, occasionally I’d wonder what people would say about me, I am a hive of gossip for those who care to partake. I listened to the wise words of my bestest friend who said
‘You could have 10 kids to 10 men and you would STILL be a great mother. Single or not.’
She was right, I wouldn’t have treated my kids differently, I would still love my them and do what was best for them.
Some people, the people who like to judge (in my opinion) are occasionally the ones who seem to have it all. Mum, Dad, some kids, nice house and car, smile, smile, smile. They work so hard at making everyone think they are very happy. When behind closed doors they are far from happy. Possibly miserable. I wish these parents luck in finding who they are and what is really important.
I wish for any mum who feels inadequate as we all do at some stage or another, single or partnered, to stop and think of the good job you are doing. If you are concerned with how you’re doing, then obviously you care.
I have read emails from some single mums asking why am I looked down upon when I have taken all the responsibility for my child and taken on the full parenting load?
They ask why am I seen as a bad parent for leaving my child’s father? I’ve stood up for my child and we want to be happy, why is that so wrong?
Just because a child has two parents living together does not automatically mean it is a good situation. And just because a mum is single does not mean she is a bad parent.
I agree with all of the things every single mum has said to me.
I think there is a whole lot of judging that goes on. Regardless of what we do as parents there will always be someone who has an opinion, but no one knows what you are going through or should do, only you can make a sound judgment about your situation.
I also know that mums, single or not judge their own parenting harshly. Go easy on yourself or others will think your fair game.
People are sometimes a little shocked when they know that majority of my kids I had previous to meeting Glen. I even had a lady a few years ago say that I was ‘lucky’ that I’d met someone who was interested in me because I had 3 kids!
Lucky? Me? I’d like to think Glen is lucky too! I had a choice in the matter. There seems to be some people who think that single mums should not date, that they should ‘take what they can get’ This is so wrong.
As long as your sensible about it go ahead and meet people! Don’t hide the fact that you have kids, they are a huge part of your life, they are a part of you. You need to like your new partner, your partner needs to like you and if they like you enough they may decide to make an effort to become a part of your child’s life.
My only advice here is if they do not accept your child, one word: goodbye. You cannot expect to enter a relationship with someone who wants nothing to do with your child, you’ll end up with a huge amount of resentment, you towards your partner, your child towards you and your partner towards you. Such a high tension situation. You also cannot expect your child to deal with a negative situation, unlike you, your child cannot ‘break up’ with your partner. Don’t make them suffer.
I had 3 kids when I met Glen and he knew it. He also knew that I was a person. We adored each other right away. He knew that if he wanted to be with me that my children were an equal part in that deal. They were not going to be shoved aside to make room, Glen had to blend with us if we were to be together.
If he’d not made that decision then I would still be a single mum despite any feelings I had for him.
My kids come first.
I am proud to say that I have been a single mum. Twice. I am proud to say that I had the strength and courage to leave bad relationships for the sake of my children’s happiness and my own. Regardless of what people may have said or thought. Two unhappy parents is not what a child needs. A bad situation is not what they want. I owed my children a bright future. They were too small to leave the situation and had no voice. Single mums sometimes need to act on behalf of their children and do whats best.
Sometimes people do not even think about these things.
Some people think single mums are selfish, some think they’re mean.
Obviously these people have never been in a bad relationship or ever been single parents themselves and had sole responsibility of that child alone.
It is not a decision made lightly.
It is a lot to take on by yourself.
A lot of the single mums I know also work.
Really hard, to provide as best that they can for their kids.
I know in my case and a lot of others, single mums sometimes put in way more effort, they over compensate because they feel their child is missing out. They want to prove to people that they are just as good as a partnered mum.
It angers me that there are mums out there doing the best they can on their own everyday worried and looking over their shoulders to avoid criticism and judgments by others.
It also angers me that there are fathers out there who just walk away, they don’t seem to be as judged as the mothers left taking all the responsibility. It is sad but it seems more acceptable for a man to have children they never see, or have minimal input into their up bringing, than a mum who is on her own.
It makes me mad that single sometimes equates to not good enough.
So I’d like to say to all the single mum’s out there, you’re doing a good job as long as you are putting your child’s and your own happiness first. Your doing great if you’re providing a stable loving home, regardless of who lives in it. I’d like to say never forget your courage and strength for getting out of a situation that no one else has experience with. Never think of yourself as less than any other mother, ever, be proud of yourself and the job you’re doing. Never let anyone make you feel like your not doing enough, it isn’t always easy but it is doable. And keep in mind that occasionally the ones trying to make you feel bad could actually be envious and need your support.
To those few who think it is ok to judge, just because a mum is single does not make her child a mistake, many children regardless of its parents being ‘partnered’ or single are unplanned. Single does not mean inadequate or incompetent. Everyone expects to have a baby and be a part of a loving couple, this isn’t always the case and no one should be put down for it. Please look at the mothers capabilities before labelling. Step back and look at your own situation before concerning yourself with someone elses.
Single mums are awesome!
Partnered mums are awesome!
Let’s all support and understand one another.
The best mums come in all shapes and sizes how about we share our experiences rather than judge them?
Feel free to comment or email me your opinions.
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