‘I’m basically a single mum myself’ are the words that probably every single mother has heard from more than one person in their lives, usually followed by ‘my husband works long shifts / is always working away’ etc etc
Before you say these words to an actual single mum please consider the following:
Does your partner / husband live with you and provide financially (even if you are the main earner in your home) I feel like this is basic but in my personal experience living apart doesn’t work so I can understand if you feel like a single mum when not living together! But this is probably the only exception I make.
Is he there for days out, family holidays, parents evenings, school events, supports you with the children’s education, supports you with their development?
Does he share the load at home with housework and childcare? E.g doesn’t expect you to be a housewife while he lays about (or even worse sits there on a console – sorry one of my biggest bugbears 🙈)
Does he show appreciation for what you do as a mother, and make the effort to still be a couple with date nights and not just being ‘mum and dad’? Is the love still there between you? And do you communicate about important issues not only about the kids but your relationship as well?
Does he work long hours or go away to earn extra money – not saying that money is everything but if you have a decent, honest, hardworking and loyal man that earns a decent annual salary then maybe you should think twice about saying you’re ‘basically a single mum’ when your food shop comes from M&S with your 3 holidays a year and we have to decide which bills we can pay for the month, don’t let the Sonata dresses fool you, that’s usually a £20 / fortnight payment for me not £100 upfront, when you’re a single mum you learn how to budget in a different way!
I haven’t written this post to be rude or offend anyone or to gain sympathy I’m simply wanting to raise awareness of how these attitudes from people can actually be quite offensive to a single parent, without them actually being aware. Everyone has their own circumstances and every mother struggles with different things because as we know it takes a village to raise children. But unless when your husband works away on business he’s got a little bit on the side (PA / secretary / overseas mistress etc), he shows you no respect, makes everything else a priority or he’s contributing absolutely nothing to the household then I’m sorry you are not even close to being a single mum. You have someone who actually cares about their family to provide, who wants to earn money to go on holidays and to do lovely things together. You have someone who is always there for you and your children and that makes you very lucky even if you don’t have all the money in the world.
As a single mum it’s not just what we have to do in terms of the daily tasks that is hard, obviously a lot of us mothers are the main ones who do the ‘mummy tasks’ : school run, cook dinners, take our children to their after school clubs – dance class in Kimaarah’s case – but it’s the emotional strain that we are under too. The different emotions we go through everyday wondering how will we cope if we don’t get our child maintenance this month, wondering how to pay for Birthdays and Christmas (one reason I’ve simplified it for myself this year in my last blog post about the Christmas Challenge)
It’s the strain that we are under financially, knowing we have to rely on others to help us out. This is one I personally struggle with a lot, I hate relying on housing benefits & tax credits even though I am entitled to the help and I am very grateful for it, but I have always worked full time and earnt my own money before I had Kimaarah. It’s also relying on my family to help at times when they shouldn’t be the ones picking up the pieces. I personally also struggle with anxiety especially when money is tight and I feel like I’m not doing enough for Kimaarah. Even though it shouldn’t all be down to me, I know a lot of my single parent friends feel the same! Even if we receive maintenance this is only calculated at 15% of the other parents wages when I believe raising a child should be 50/50, am I right? I still have to think about paying my rent and bills to ensure my daughter has a roof over her head, food, electricity, water as well as everything else she needs. And not just the things she needs, but the more luxury items I want to treat her to, to ensure she isn’t missing out and has a good quality of life and not just the basics!
Many of us are also struggling with a co-parenting relationship, something I probably don’t speak about enough but the struggle of having to deal with someone we don’t always agree with, or who is not always respectful to us, or who takes the fact that we are doing everything for their child for granted. That’s a real life struggle. I know some women have amazing coparenting relationships and I honestly admire you! There’s women out there who’s children are having to compete for their dads time with the latest girlfriend, children who have no routine of seeing their dads because he can’t fit them into his busy schedule that week. There are some single mums who’s exes pay for a lot more than just what the CMS would tell them to give, like more towards their rent, childcare costs paid, going half’s on birthday parties and Christmas. I would honestly appreciate this so much! It’s the small things that I think others could take for granted. I appreciate my family being there for me so much as I know for a fact that other single mums don’t have this. I do have more opportunities thanks to my family like holidays, and help with Kimaarah’s birthday parties. But at the end of the day the responsibility of a child should firstly be in the hands of both parents, not just the mother and her family for example. It’s not a nice feeling having to rely on others or knowing you wouldn’t have certain things if it wasn’t for them.
Many of us single mothers wear our title proudly like a crown on our heads, we know we can survive even through the hardest times because our determination to do the best for our children keeps us going. But I’m also aware that there are mothers who are going through a break up / divorce who don’t yet feel 100% comfortable about being a single parent. Or are coming to terms with everything and feel anxious about how their lives have changed, and how they may be judged by others. I would so much rather be encouraged and praised, you don’t have to be in the same situation as me, you don’t have to liken your situation to mine. Just a simple ‘you’re doing a great job’ would mean so much!
If you truly think that you are more like a single mother because your other half never helps you / is a cheat / a liar / has addictions / doesn’t make you a priority / is a general wasteman who doesn’t feel he should provide even the basics (as a few examples) then please tell me WHY you don’t make the first step for yourself and your child and leave? Even if you can’t leave at this given moment, please seek help if you are going through a bad relationship. It may seem very hard at first I can’t lie, there are times I wonder how I cope, even after all this time because I always face challenges as a single parent. But there is nothing better than knowing I’ve made the best decision for Kimaarah because her growing up in a toxic household is never something I would allow to happen. It’s really sad to think that people feel alone like that when in a partnership, you should be a team always being there for each other. If that’s not the case you either need to both sit down and work on things or leave if either person is not willing to put 100% effort into it. No one should be with someone who makes them feel that lonely and doesn’t care about how they feel.
So next time a mother tells you she’s raising her children all alone, why not tell her what a wonderful mother she is. But please think twice about saying those dreaded words. Instead why not relate to her in a different way by saying ‘I sometimes feel really lonely too’ or ‘I don’t have any family help apart from my husband’ for example. I would like to thank everyone who spoke to me about their views on this whilst I was writing this post. It really helped me to see from different perspectives but I still believe that being a single mum is a lot harder than what people may see on social media or when they bump into you on the school run. Let’s all be a bit kinder, more perceptive and more understanding to one another, it will make this parenting journey a lot easier!
I am always interested to hear about other people’s views so whether you’re a single mum or not please feel free to message me on my socials as I would love to hear from you ❤️