Tag Archives: single mother

How being a single mother is just being a mother

“I love, more than anything, that I don’t have to take anyone else’s feelings or opinions into consideration when I do something… It’s just me and Jack against the world!”


Here’s something I wrote recently during an argument: “Your membership of this family is not unconditional. I’m sorry if I made you think it was.”

The argument was invariably (I can’t remember the specifics) about one of us not getting our needs met. It most likely had something to do with communication. I forget the argument but that sentiment about family membership being conditional stuck with me. If it applies to him then it must apply to me and to our daughter and to any other member of this family.

I was reminded of it today while reading the thread on mothering.com about “Why I love being a single mother”. Some of the behaviours these mothers were escaping were shocking. One writes:

“no more wondering if he is still cheating (of course he was!)”

Another member writes:

“I love that my home is emotionally peaceful now (yes, even with four kids).

I love that I am not walking on eggshells or tiptoeing around someone else’s moods and quirks.”

Another member:

Here’s my top five list:

1. Having control over my body, finances, and time.

2. Knowing exactly what to expect when I walk in the door.

3. Pride in my home, my family, my values and my life choices (and never having to compromise any of them).

4. Embracing my spirituality without feeling ashamed of my faith.

5. The ability to pass these gifts along to my son in the most loving environment I am capable of creating for him.

This thread has been going for eight years.

“I love that my kids do not dread coming home from school because dad is here
I love that they can go online without me worrying they will see porn (he never bothered to delete his downloaded videos or history)
I love that they don’t have to be on eggshells all the time wondering when he would go off next”

– nobody calls my older kids insulting names , like ” the little n…..s ” !

– I don´t have to hide food from him anymore , so that he doesn´t hurry up and eat it , before my kids get some or get in fights with him , because every time , we have cake or donuts or some special treat like that he goes ” do the adults get 2 and the kids 1 ?” or ” we ( the grow-ups ) should eat as much as we like and then give the kids the rest”

And the saddest one I’ve read so far:

Not seeing my children punched, kicked, slapped, pushed, bloodied – all in the name of “discipline”.
My children and I no longer living in fear or always being on edge.
No more holes in the walls, or broken possessions.
My kids not being walked over (literally!) because they were “in his way”.

But some of the sentiments don’t sit well with me:

“To sum up what everyone has posted: no interference.

I am the master of my domain!”

And the one I posted at the start:

“I love, more than anything, that I don’t have to take anyone else’s feelings or opinions into consideration when I do something.”

I don’t agree with those sentiments. The rules I mention about being in this family apply to me too. It isn’t my way or the highway but basic rules about love and putting each other’s needs first. My big task is how to make this ‘our’ task and create an environment where everyone can contribute.

I have changed in many ways since having a child. The state of my flat was a mess and I didn’t change that until I was told about it by M’s father. I need to go to the dentist but I didn’t do anything about it other than ponder for a while until my sister nudged me and said hey, you need to do something. I don’t always know best. There are things I’d rather let lie until someone forces me to do them. My housemate points out the cleaning and the tiny’s tv-watching and other things he sees. When he does it out of love and concern then I have to listen and no matter how annoyed I get that my issues are being mentioned, I pay attention.

I posted the Art of Loving on International Women’s Day because of its message that love is about giving and it is about loving others as much as you love yourself. Not more and not less. I remember a time in my life when I was asked to picture my situation as a film genre and what kind of role I had in it. I was the supporting cast in my own life! That just can’t happen anymore and I don’t want it to happen to my tiny child.

At first, the most difficult thing in setting boundaries and establishing rules seemed to be my reactions to other people’s reactions. Their anger, moodiness, lack of communication but mostly the anger. The yelling. The criticism. My response to it all was a huge well of emotions, mostly fear.

But then time passed and nothing happened to me. I didn’t die. I managed to survive and no one really minded being told that certain things were unacceptable. I’ve not worked it all out yet but that’s my main message to me and my daughter, there are rules and boundaries and they exist with anyone at anytime. Being a single mother is just being a mother and no one can escape people.

This is a sentiment which resonates with me:

It is easy to understand how there can be no more stable foundation for friendship than the shared awareness that both individuals are strongly committed to the happiness of the other. What room is there for jealousy, anger and resentment when we know that our friend or partner is deeply committed to making us happy? When we know he or she values our welfare as much as, perhaps even more than, his or her own happiness? Who inspires greater confidence in us than the person who truly believes that they gain more from kindness than from greedy self-indulgence?

(The Art of Loving – Medialens)

And being single has nothing to do with it.

Family photo

Single Mother. Unplanned, Wanted Baby.

Those aren’t my terms: “Single mother, unplanned but wanted baby”, they are what the doctor wrote in her (my) notes. They are true of course and the curious practice of documenting everything still interests me now four months after that session. One of the most fascinating aspects to being pregnant in Britain is the machinery that rolls up and gets set in motion once you let the NHS know that a baby is on its way.

Initially I wasn’t sure what was happening because the doctor was a locum who didn’t know what procedures were meant to be followed. She confirmed the pregnancy and told me to check with the desk in front. After checking with colleagues, one of whom was a pregnant friend of mine and had a checklist of pregnancy related events, I made another appointment and was introduced to the world of NHS babies.

I found out that the pregnancy is counted from the point of the last period and not conception and that the due date is at 40 weeks and from 37 weeks you are considered full term.

By the eighth week of pregnancy, there was a booking appointment with the midwife where I filled out lots of forms, had blood taken, blood pressure checked and was listed as very healthy once I mentioned my running and the London Marathon just over a month previously. I received my bright yellow Maternity book which contains all the test results and information about the birth. It is the property of the NHS but I hold on to it and take it to every appointment with me.

I was warned by doctors, friends and books that there was a one in four chance of miscarriage by the 12th week when the first scan happens. After that point the risk of miscarriage reduces dramatically and it’s when most people announce that they are expecting. I knew of two other women who lost babies at 10 and 12 weeks respectively so I was preparing myself just in case. Little Baby was there on the monitor though and the little hands moved and the heart beat and it was amazing.

At 18 weeks I had another appointment with the midwife, not the single Australian mum this time but a woman from the United States who was only here for two more weeks. I was given the result of my blood tests and heard the baby’s heartbeat – all seemed fine and I was still pregnant.

The big date in the pregnancy calendar is the 20 week scan, called an anomaly scan (although it is spelled anomoly in my book) where they check the baby’s growth and development and I guess it’s the last chance to make sure everything is healthy before continuing. That was three weeks ago and little baby is apparently just fine so now I can start breathing a little easier and start thinking about the other details.

The ‘single’ part of motherhood is a big concern but I’m definitely not alone in the process. I told the dad as soon as I could but he decided that he couldn’t be a father. Maybe one day but not like this and not with me so there isn’t much more to say. However, I have had support from many people, my parents are ecstatic, my sister loving and enthusiastic, my housemate has been consistent, protective and helpful while the rest of friends and colleagues have been there for me the whole time. My work has also been amazing and I have up to a year off with maternity leave so I feel very privileged with this little miracle.

The pregnancy itself though is a bizarre concept all on its own and I’ll devote more space to writing about that as I go on.