Recently, I have been asked what advice I have to give to those embarking on the journey of becoming a single mother by choice. It’s always difficult to impart pearls of wisdom to other people, who may well be in completely different circumstances to your own, but here are a few little snippets I wish people had told me…….
1.) IT ISN’T AS HARD AS YOU THINK.
I cannot stress this enough. Single parents get a bad press. It’s all, “oh it must be so hard,” and “you must be so downtrodden” and “how terrible for you,” but single mothers by choice, in my experience at least, don’t need anybody’s pity. We chose this life, we embraced it. We didn’t have it forced upon us by an unsupportive or unpleasant partner. And we never have to co-parent with somebody who-best case scenario-ended up being a bit of an irritant, and worst case scenario-well, that hardly needs stating. This alone makes our lives a whole lot easier than those of most of the single parents out there.
Yes, sometimes kids can drive you crazy, but that is always going to be the case whether you are married, single, divorced, co-habiting or in a polyamorous love-cult in a hippy commune. Kids are sent to try us. Fellow parents are your friends, you’re all in this together.
2.) In real life, nobody actually behaves like the Daily Mail
OK, so Brexit Britain is perhaps not shaping up to be the cuddly liberal enclave that I, in my middle-class slightly-left-of-centre-wing bubble, previously thought it was, but no one has yet accused me of being a selfish careerist who couldn’t find a man so decided to make a fatherless baby in a lab like a James Bond uber-villain nurturing a private army of clones inside a volcano. Yet.
3.) You will end up having more in common with all those Smug Marrieds than you can currently imagine.
You may think you will never be swigging mummy-lattes at soft play whilst chewing the fat with those happily married women in last decade’s wrap dresses, but trust me, you will. You might even wake up one day and find that all your own dresses were purchased in the previous decade. You have been warned.
4.) You will not care.
Suddenly, you will not care about a lot of things. You will lose all interest in finding out what HD brows are (what are HD brows? Is it something to do with television?) You will never again know what is number one in the charts (is there still even a charts?) You will probably never wear high heels again and will live the rest of your life transitioning seasonally between wellies and flip-flops. And the most surprising thing is, one of these things which you do not care about will be dating. You never again have to feel obliged to endure another round on Match.com on the off chance of meeting your babydaddy. You are finally free. Enjoy it.
5.) Your family will constantly surprise you with their kindness and willingness to help. I appreciate that this may not be everyone’s experience, and maybe I am just lucky to have a particularly supportive family, but children have a tendency to melt even the hardest of hearts, and you may find things easier than you anticipated.
These are, of course, my own thoughts, and everyone and everyone’s circumstances are different. You may not be a reformed party animal with a loft full of Jeffrey Campbell Litas from 2007. You may already be interested in gardening and interior design in a way that I personally couldn’t appreciate until I had a child. But I promise you, for every pang of jealousy there will be for every smug married who gets to give up work after children because her husband can support them all, there will be a feeling of feminist vindication at being the breadwinner. For every worry about how you will cope, there will be people telling you they don’t know how you do it all (and you will do it all), and for every naysayer there will be many more who applaud your bravery.
Last but certainly not least, I leave you with the results of this study, which suggests that children of single mothers by choice do just as well as those from two-parent families.
So there you go, in a nutshell, it isn’t as hard as you think.