Being a single mum is a mixed experience. Like everything in life, it is what you make it. Whether you are rocking this single mum gig or still getting used to a life you didn’t expect, focusing on the good is the way forward.
For many women, they wouldn’t have life any other way. When you become a single mum your way of thinking changes. What once mattered, no longer does. More important things come into focus and priorities change. It’s actually pretty liberating.
For me, it has been life-changing. Here are some of the things I no longer give a sh*t about now I’m a single mum.
THINGS I NO LONGER GIVE A SHIT ABOUT NOW I’M A SINGLE MUM
KEEPING UP WITH JONES’S
This one is such a relief. Who are the Jones’s anyway? And why was I so desperate to keep up with them? When I was married, I had to have the house, the car, the holidays that were on par with everyone else. Never mind if everything was mortgaged to the hilt, it was looks that mattered.
I am so happy to have opted gracefully out of this race. I own a home. I bought it on my own. It is the smallest of all my kids’ friends’ homes (by far) but we LOVE it. I am prouder of my little home than I ever was of the larger houses I lived in with my ex husband.
Then there is the craziness with the cars. My current car is the oldest and smallest of all the cars at school pickup, but it’s safe and it gets us from A to B. I could get a loan for another, but why would I? Our car has character, sand all over the back seat and we love it. When our second child was born, I was barely out of hospital before I had begun my search for an eight-seat SUV. What was that all about? I was desperate to keep up with the Jones’s. Now they can all go jump.
PTA AND THINGS LIKE THAT
Firstly, thank you to all the wonderful mothers who give up their time to run and help PTA’s and the such like. I am truly grateful to you. As a married, non-working, mother, I always did my bit. Late night baking for school fairs and threading popcorn onto string for Halloween discos. Been there, done that.
But not anymore. If a PTA help request hits my inbox, I decline and I don’t feel guilty. I’m a single mum now and my priorities have changed. I will get my own children to school events with the right costumes and contributions, but other people’s kids are not my problem this year. I can no longer imagine that life where I had time to volunteer. My world is now is so full and happening … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We can’t help wanting that perfect family. We are conditioned to want it from day dot. We are taught that the perfect family is a happy one, with two parents who love one another. Think Peppa Pig etc. As mums, we are subjected to multi-million-dollar ad campaigns of stereotypical families laughing and the parents looking adoringly at one another. Secretly we want this too, and we set out to get it.
Yet, as so many single mums know, being happy is not about the family we see on our screens, it’s about so much more than that. Happiness comes from safety, contentment, clarity and peace. It comes from accepting that things have not worked out, and from the strength we find inside us to make the changes we need.
As for being perfect. What actually is that? And who wants it anyway? Perfect is what is right for you and your children. It is completely personal and unique to each individual. And it has nothing to do with those around you, especially not Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and Little Brother George.
PRETENDING EVERYTHING IS OK
I remember the days when I had to show-up in the school playground after a stressful morning screaming at the kids to ‘clean your bloody teeth’ (that bit has not changed btw). I would take a deep breath, plaster a smile on my face and get out the car to face my playground peers pretending that all was well in the world. It was exhausting.
Since becoming a single mum and connecting with like-minded women, I have learnt something hugely important … it is ok not to be ok. Not only that, there is strength in admitting you are not ok and it is the initiator to make things better.
I am like every other human in the world, some days I am not ok. The difference now is that I admit it to myself and to others who can help me. By doing this, I have built a support system around me for my ‘not ok’ days, and I love that I am there for others for their ‘not ok’ days.
THE INCONSEQUENTIAL SH*T
Was there really a time when I used to worry about stuff like dinner parties and whether my kids wore matching socks? Wtf was all that about?
Now, if I have people over for dinner, it’s a bbq with ‘bring your own plate if you like’ or take-away on mismatched plates .. usually with lots of wine and plenty of laughter. And socks for the kids, I can barely get my girls to wear shoes!
The things that matter are very different and they are the things that should matter. Like whether my relationship with my ex is healthy enough for us to be good parents. Am I earning enough money to pay all my bills and saving for the future. Is there enough food on the table? Are my kids happy and do they talk to me about the things that matter to them?
Letting go of the inconsequential sh*t is a wonderfully liberating feeling.
WHAT OTHERS THINK
The minute you stop giving a sh*t what people think about you, life becomes a whole lot easier. It is like a weight has lifted. And never more so than for a single mum.
Being a single mum comes with a societal stigma that should have been dropped in the dark-ages. However liberal and open-minded people might appear on the outside, they are still fascinated (possibly a wee bit jealous) of single mums. In a society where women are still considered the weaker sex, we are a group of strong, independent women that push the boundaries of normal. People don’t know what to make of us, so they come to their own conclusions, some of them unfavourable.
Let them guess. I love being me and I love my unusual yet beautiful family. What others think of me is entirely and utterly insignificant .. being an enigma is fun.
MEETING MY PRINCE
I believed I had met my prince when I got married. I thought I was firmly on the path to my happily ever after. And I still believe my ex was my prince at that time, but we both changed and grew apart. Now I am prince-less. But it SO does not matter.
It has taken me a long time, but I am 100% content as a single women with my beloved children. Ironically it takes getting to this place to be ready for another relationship, and if that happens, that is fine too. But I know I don’t need a man to be happy. And I know that ‘happily ever after’ comes in many different forms, and it doesn’t have to be with a partner.
Learning this lesson has given me a sense of freedom. I don’t worry about being alone as I am at peace with it. And as mums, we are never really alone anyway. Instead of hunting down Mr Right, I enjoy hogging my bed, slurping my tea and watching whatever I choose on Netflix. Happy days.