Being a single mum gets a tonne of bad press. We’re more likely to live in poverty, have mental health problems, be isolated, suffer from stress, and so on, and so on. It can get very depressing.
We’re also often on the receiving ends of pitying looks and ‘I don’t know how you cope’ comments.
Yes, being a single mum is flipping tough. There are times when I’ve struggled, like REALLY struggled. there are just as many times when I’ve thanked my lucky stars for my solo status.
Being a single mum also has it’s upsides.
So I wanted to try and redress the balance with a dose of positivity about being a single parent. There’s ALOT to celebrate. Here are just a few I, and a couple of fellow solo mamas, came up with [If you’d like to contribute to this post tweet me up here!]:
1. Your life is your own
You can do what you want, when you want with whoever you want. You don’t have to consult anyone else first. I smile to myself when I hear married friends say ‘I need to check with X first’ or ‘X won’t like me doing that’. Sweet freedom.
Fellow single mum, Rebecca Claxton founder and CEO of Savvy Mum’s Business puts it like this:
This freedom to be entirely self-determining goes hand in hand with…
2. You get to make all the parenting decisions.
You’re in charge. No-one else can question, over-ride or undermine you. You can parent however you like, choose the school, decide where and how you live, when you put your child into nursery, whether you’re going to co-sleep or try controlled drying. There’s no need to compromise. Yes, if your ex-partner is on the scene you might not have quite this much freedom, but still, on your watch it’s up to you.
3. You don’t have to deal with crappy relationship issues on top of parenting stresses.
When I had a newborn I could prioritise myself and my baby, I didn’t have to deal with the stressful relationship issues most of my partnered friends dealt with their baby arrived. Whenever I talk to someone who’s in a nightmare relationship – constantly being let down by someone they thought would be there for them, or worse – I know I’d rather be on my own than dealing with that.
4. You don’t have to put up with someone else’s interfering family.
As an SMC you don’t have to put up with them AT ALL, and I imagine that once you’re divorced or separated you have to deal with them far less, if ever.
5. You get to undeniably be the centre of your child’s world.
I am unquestionably the sun in my daughter’s sky. She has an amazing relationship with my mum but I am the person she depends on and values above all others. It’s often felt like it’s me and her against the world. She looks to me, and only me, like I’m a rockstar, the best thing since sliced bread and no-one gets a excited smile of delight at the school gates quite like I do.
6. You discover inner strengths and capabilities you never knew you had.
When it’s late at night, your child is sick and there’s no-one else to turn to, you just DO. You get on with it, and somehow you cope. You rise to the challenge, and that’s bloody empowering.
7. You can set an empowering example of female independence.
There are no gender stereotypes in our home. Mummy works, Mummy pays the bills, Mummy builds furniture, Mummy drills holes in the wall and Mummy mows the lawn. But Mummy also takes care of me, does the cooking, washing and cleans the house. I hope that translates from “Mummy can do it all’ to “I can do it all too”.
Related: 18 advantages of self-employment for single mums
8. The possibility of finding stomach-flipping passion is still out there.
And in the meantime you can date hot young men (or hot older men if that’s your style!) – or not! It’s up to you. I’m erring on the side of not right now, but that might change.
Relate Related: Dating as a single mother: can you be bothered?
9. You own the remote control.
When the little ones are tucked up in bed you can snuggle on the couch in your tracky-daks and watch Gilmore Girls back to back with no eye-rolling. You absolutely do not have to put up with your TV being monopolised by football or anything else you rather stick pins in your eyes than watch.
10. You depend only on yourself, no-one can let you down.
When you’re a single mum you can get on with your life, and your child’s life, knowing that no-one will let you down. No-one is going to disappoint you by not pulling their weight or staying out all night when they said they’d come home. There’s no-one else to clean up after and no-one else to rain on your parade or make you feel like shit. You’re in charge of your own destiny sister.
[I’m fully aware that not all relationships are so negative, I’ve been in good and bad, but being single means that while maybe you’re not benefiting from the good, you also save yourself the angst of the bad.]
11. Your child can sleep in your bed whenever you want – or not!
Blogger, Single Mum Speaks, perfectly expresses my last point. Having your bed to yourself is of course another advantage of being single – no-one’s snoring to put up with, you can spread-eagle yourself across the whole bed if you like.
But sometimes there’s nothing better than having a little warm body to snuggle to, and wake up next to. And if you want them there it’s up to you, and if you don’t, that’s up to you too.
I acknowledge that some of these reasons that being a single mum ROCKS might only apply to my situation. I’m a single mother by choice, my daughter was donor conceived so there’s no father in our lives. But they apply equally if your child’s father isn’t involved, and perhaps partially even if they are.
As I wrote this I also realised that many of the upsides of single parenting can also be what makes it hugely challenging. For instance, having to make all the decisions alone can also be a heavy cross to bear. Sometimes I LONG to have someone else shoulder part of the responsibility for the big decisions.
Watch up for a post about the many challenges of single parenting coming up soon! As with all things, nothing is straight-forward. It’s often about your perception, your state of mind and your resilience on any given day.
What do you LOVE about being a single mum?