What do you think of when you hear the words “single mother”?
A harassed, overworked and underpaid divorced woman trying to raise her kids with negligible support from her ex-partner?
A young woman barely existing on welfare, shunned by society as a drain on resources?
Or a contented and fulfilled professional woman?
“I CHOOSE my choice!” Charlotte from Sex and the City shouted down the phone to Miranda after having her choice to give up work questioned. As women, we are used to having to defend our choices; about whether to be a working or stay-at-home mother, whether to breast or bottle feed, even if, when and how we give birth is questioned, as though by doing something different to others, we are somehow invalidating their choices.
One choice we don’t hear much about is the choice to be a single mother. Admit you are a “single mother” and people instantly lower their voices, worried they might say something that may offend. Worried that they could be wading into dangerous territory-an abusive ex, financial difficulties, a heartbreaking relationship breakdown, even a bereavement.
It is not this way for all of us. Some of us make the active choice to parent alone, often to go through gruelling and invasive fertility procedures-sometimes for years-to have what others take for granted; the chance to have a family of their own. On their own. It isn’t always easy, but it is always rewarding, and here’s why.
1.) You are now literally the same as all those people who had babies the conventional way; who got married, had 2.4 children and did everything “right.” Yes, you are now officially what Bridget Jones would term a Smug Married, without being married. YOU are now the one spamming everyone’s Facebook with pictures of your adorable newborn ooh-look-at-his-adorable-little-poo-face. You have turned into one of those people you hated, envied, were literally beside yourself with jealousy over every time you saw one of their scan photos. And it feels AMAZING. You can even go out for Mummy-lattes with them and have conversations about weaning. You have finally found your tribe, and for the first time ever, they aren’t drunk.
2.) There is no need to compromise on anything, ever.
You want to name your baby Rainbow Brite de Lacey Precious Little Diamond Codswallop? Go right ahead, there’s no one to stop you! Well, apart from maybe your mother, and your saner friends, but basically, it’s your call. You want to co-sleep? Great, there’s nobody else in the bed to get in the way. You want to breastfeed your child until they go to university? Go right ahead. You are literally The Boss.
3.) You will be forever described as “brave,” “valiant,” “courageous” and other such adjectives usually reserved for those who do battle, either literally or figuratively, against far worse things than a colicky newborn. Revel in it.
4.) No pesky ex hanging around, wanting to be involved, or worse, not wanting to be involved.
5.) You finally don’t care about being an “old spinster,” “left on the shelf” or a “dried up old hag,” because, well, who cares? You literally never need to worry about men, dating or the horror that is Tinder, because you did it-you had a baby-all by yourself, and you know what, it was OK. Men of the world, begone! There is no further use for you!
And finally, you’ll really annoy the Daily Mail, who probably assume you did it just to claim benefits (I didn’t, pipe down at the back there, Disgusted of Twitter).
OK, so I have given up the trappings of my former life. My vintage dresses hung unworn and unloved at the back of the wardrobe, lest I should trip over their floor length hemlines whilst carrying a toddler, or lest they be destroyed by little banana and mud-caked fingers. My love life has dwindled to the point of nothingness, and not even starting my own reality show where I pay people to marry me can redeem me now, and I am living at home with my mother in the house I grew up in as I can no longer afford a flat of my own. But I am happy, deliriously happy, happier than I have ever been.
So take that Daily Mail.
This post was first written as a guest post for the website Meet Other Mums
44 Comments Add yours
This is a really lovely post to read. You’ve been very open about your life and sound very happy with it. I hope other people read this and find it supportive if they’re in the same situation or informative if they were previously in the camp of people who would wrongly judge. Your son is adorable, enjoy every precious minute! #KCACOLS
Thank you-yes I hope others in similar situations will read it.
I really enjoyed reading this, it’s so refreshing to read a slightly different perspective on parenthood. I have so much respect for you for going down that road and creating your own destiny and happiness (sorry that sounds dead cheesy). My friend is a single mum (she split from the dad during the pregnancy) and she has always said she found it easier in so many ways, like you said – cosleeping, making decisions, sleeping when the baby sleeps as you don’t have to make the effort to see a partner etc.
Thank you! Yes, people often think there are only disadvantages to being a single parent, but though there are some, there are plenty of nice things too.
It just goes to show you how very different families can look! I’m sorry for people’s ignorance. The obsession with the ‘traditional’ family that some seem to have really confuses me. And, not to be redundant, but I definitely consider you brave in my book. To have the guts to start a family on your own, to bring a baby into the world all on your own to love and cherish and raise. Brave!
Although, I wouldn’t mind having the final say at all times (; #KCACOLS
To be honest, I’ve been pretty lucky with people’s responses to my situation. It’s just that when I say I’m a single mum there’s always that fleeting look of pity! Thank you for commenting.
Ahh I loved this first time and love it again second time. Too right. For me feminism (yes the word the daily fail hates even more than happy) is about freedom of choice and, despite on paper our experiences being very different, this really resonates with me. As does the cosleeping in an empty bed…I used to just transfer my son sometimes when my husband was away. Well why not!? A really interesting and open and plain lovely read #KCACOLS
Thank you. Yes I have heard quite a few mums whose husbands work away a lot say the same about co-sleeping. Piglet has made his permanent home in my bed I think!
There are so many advantages to being a single parent. You make the decisions that are best for you and your child and no one can question you. Even though I have a very lovely partner now when I was a single parent I didn’t go looking for a man, I looked for some more friends because I was a bit lonely and had just moved back from being away for three years and didn’t really know anyone. Even though I now have someone to help with cleaning and school runs, I am the parent, and my choice is rule. #kcacols
There are! It seems we only ever hear about the negative, but we should definitely talk about the positives more often.
I’ve never really thought about it from your perspective before. I know so many single parents from a failed partnership but it’s really interesting to get your take on it. To be fair I tend to ignore my other half and get to make all my own decisions too. It’s nice to have a helping hand but totally respect you for your choices. Brilliant. #kcacols
Haha, I’m sure I’d still be the one calling the shots if I did have a partner! Yes, my situation is I guess not the “norm,” even among other single parents, but in many ways I have it easier than those who have had a failed relationship so I can’t complain.
A really good read, and a perspective I haven’t really considered much (I suddenly feel rather small minded!) you make some splendid points. Good read xx #bigpinklink
Not small minded at all! My situation is still quite unusual, so it comes as a surprise to a lot of people. Thanks for commenting.
Lovely read!! I love how you have a positive spin on it all!
Keep it up!
A great perspective on a differnt way of parenting. You are one strong lady. xx
Wow. This might just be the best post I’ve read in a while and yes I would use every single one of those adjectives to describe single mothers. I doth my cap to you. Loved this. #bigpinklink
Thank you-that’s a lovely comment!
Yea f*** you Daily Mail. Ugh. They’re like the annoying girl at the party who gets all the attention because she keeps accidentally showing her va-jay-jay. Oh god what am I saying?! ….This is an awesome list, I would definitely say you are valiant. : ) Also, I would have to agree on point 2, I almost named my son “Moon Unit.” Just for jokes haha (not really), but his middle name is actually Bear. YUP I did that. Love the pride for single Mumdom, shout out to my Mom who raised us as a single working Mom! Thanks for sharing with #StayClassy.
Yay! Love that image of the Daily Mail. I’m pretty sure they’d be far too prudish to do something so vulgar at a party though. Imagine the headlines for THAT one on the sidebar of shame!
It’s so interesting to see it from your perspective. I always love your writing – so funny and clever which puts such a positive take on it. I have to admit I’ve never really thought about it before, but did a month without my other half recently and take my hat off to all single mums, as it was pretty hard at times. Great post 🙂 #KCACOLS
I guess in a way it might be harder if you’re not used to it. When it was just me and Piglet at home we had our own routines, but now we live with my mum, if she’s not there it’s different-maybe because we’re in her house so still have to abide by her rules to an extent. Thank you for your lovely comment!
“You want to name your baby Rainbow Brite de Lacey Precious Little Diamond Codswallop?” NO BUT I DO NOW!!! I CHOOSE MY CHOICE! lol this is a great post ! I am laughing and nodding in agreement. Good for you. Do what you want, be happy, end of story. Thanks for linking up #stayclassy
Haha, thanks! That’s Piglet’s real name, actually. 😉
Aaah, what a lovely read! It’s just heartwarmingly wonderful that you are so happy to have made this decision to go it alone, and are filled with so much contentment that none of the other stuff actually matters. Your points do make for a pretty convincing argument!! Sometimes when my husband is giving me side eye for doing he doesn’t agree with, when it’s to do with a situation he never has to deal with, or makes a new rule like ‘we have to give up dummies today,’ then chucks them all in the bin and walks straight out the door to work (yes, he’s actually done that!!) I think life would be easier if I could just make all the decisions and not answer to him!! I’m really pleased for you that you are so happy.
Thanks. It creates enough trouble when my mum has different parenting views to me, let alone someone who’s the child’s father and gets to have a say. I’m not sure I could bear it. I’ve got too used to having my own way!
Great stuff, the Daily Mail should be renamed “The Daily Hate”; my Mum was a single Mum, but still insists on reading that bog-roll paper.
It should indeed. I can’t believe it’s the bestselling paper in the UK when almost everyone hates it!
The Daily Mail can just … Go away. (Yes, that was what I first typed, honest!). It really is a hate filled rag. Loved this. You both look so happy – and that’s what counts 🙂
Thank you! The Daily Mail is awful.
You knew what you wanted and you just took it. If only we all had the guts to live life that way. PS I would totally watch your reality show #Stayclassy
Thank you! I will have to contact MTV and see if they’re up for it. It can’t possibly be any worse than that one Jodie Marsh did.
well said, Min – you’re choice, you’re life, you’re decision to lead it just how you want to – I totally and utterly applaud you for that – no regrets, no way ifs – you did it – and what an outcome?! #KCACOLS
Thank you! 🙂
I really enjoyed reading this, partly because it made me laugh (that name is up there with princess consuela banana hammock) and partly because it’s a really great perspective on being a single parent. I love that you took control and chose your choice! x #KCACOLS
Thank you! I actually love the name Consuela/Consuelo. It makes me think of American heiresses of the late 19th century. In a good way. Thanks for commenting!
Haha! Good for you! Stupid Daily Mail – what a load of …..! It never cross my mind to go it alone – perhaps I am too scared. But now – knowing what I know – I can make it on my own and everything will be fine. A very positive post. Thank you so much for linking up with us. 🙂 #FabFridayPost xx
Thank you for hosting and commenting!
Well said. We should be free to make our own choices and not feel judged when we choose what makes us truly happy! I like the idea of not having to consult anyone else when making decisions and tinder would scare me… TY for linking up to #FamilyFun ?
Yes, the thought of Tinder is pretty scary to me too!
This is such a great post. I can’t relate to being a single mother but this is the first time I have witnessed someone speaking so positively about it and it really made me smile. Good on you! #familyfun
Thanks! To be honest, when I first went on the Mumsnet thread for single mums, it was so depressing I never ever went back. They were all complaining about their exes, and I just felt so happy that I am free of all that.