I was shocked when I first became a single mother. Wolf was two years old and I had been with his dad for eight years. I hated the term. I struggled. I never thought I’d find myself in such a position and felt so exposed, vulnerable and damn terrified.
There have been some truly hideous years, but Wolf recently turned seven and amongst the complete joy and pride I felt, I found myself thinking, “I’ve made it so far”. And wow, it’s one of the most magnificent and overwhelming thoughts I’ve had.
It’s my greatest achievement.
It got me thinking about being a single mother, and while it can be without a doubt incredibly hard, there are some upsides, which I’d like to revel in. Just for a bit.
The bond is incredible
Wolf is old enough to get that it’s just me and him. We do things together as a team. We look after each other. And although he finds it ‘fun’ to occasionally emotionally blackmail me (ie. “mum, you need to play with me as you haven’t spawned me a brother or sister to play with”), we find complete joy in being with each other. He makes me shake on the idea of living together forever and on the night of his birthday, said always has the best birthdays because I make them great. We take turns in organising dates. We’ve been on some truly superb dates.
You create a crew
I admit it. I like being able to do everything on my own, but this position has forced me reach out. As a result, we have an incredibly close gang of family and friends. They are my foundation. And I’ve found a workplace that lets me bring him to work. Every day of the school holidays if need be. He secretly chats to my Dad about “man stuff” like football and how to deal with bullies. My colleagues do things like stay back after work to cut out Star Wars characters with me for his birthday cupcakes. Our lives feel rich and full because of these glorious people.
You give up
I think terms like “supermum” are stupid. And I disagree with the notion that you can have it all. In my experience, something always gives. For me, being able to make dinner for Wolf each night is more important than the corporate ladder. This is my decision though. And ironically, the realisation has made me enjoy my work more. There’s a freedom in knowing that I can’t have it all. I don’t need it all. And while I still struggle with the standard guilt that most mothers battle with, those close to me keep it real. They remind me that I don’t need to have things perfect for them to be good.
Go on, play with a stereotype
Playing with stereotypes can be fun. No, I’m not desperate. I have a great career. Yes, I support my son and my father. What is a ‘typical single mother’ supposed to look like? I read an article that said 40% of children these days are being raised by single mothers. That’s a lot of different women.
Due to incredible support, I still get to go to gigs, to dance classes, to house parties, to dinner and drinks and there are days when I do get to do whatever I want. I’m so fortunate! Wolf gets to hang out with other people that he loves and I get to relish other interests, like staying in bed and reading. For a whole day.
You hog the love
This one is selfish, but not by my design. No. But I figure I get all the cuddles, all the kisses, the first teeth lost, I get to teach him how to tie his laces, how to ride bikes and we get to have superhero dance offs, Halloween dress ups and build Lego. Lego is awesome.
It’s all worth it
Beautiful beautiful post.
Such an amazing and beautiful post Catho.
Love this post. I was raised by just my Mum and all the things you say above are true. My mum had me really young, so there was a bit of drama with all of that (she was a really young single Mum, working shift work as a nurse and I imagine that it was really tough) – but despite the tough bits we have grown closer and closer over 40 years together. Just came back from a cool week away with her. It was nice just to have her to myself again. I am so proud of who she is and what she has done with her life. Single mums – they rule
Good on you Catherine. Long time no speak. 🙂 Wolf is gorgeous, as are you.
So happy for you both!
You are wise beyond your years.