It’s a common misconception about single parents that our lives are basically a bit crap. We’re juggling work and home, trying to earn enough money to run a home by ourselves and are basically biding our time until a new partner comes along.
We wrote a piece recently challenging some of the common single parent stereotypes around specific things like work and money, but this idea of all single parents as being essentially unhappy and exhausted still seems to persist. While we aren’t denying it’s tiring and overwhelming at times, that’s often just life isn’t it? Married parents, non-parents, it’s just the same, we all go through ups and downs.
What we found while we were researching our myth busting piece was that actually there are an awful lot of single parents who are not just surviving, but thriving. These are parents who have never been happier, who, whether they became single parents by choice or not, find immense joy and pride in raising their children on their own.
It’s a common misconception about single parents that our lives are basically a bit crap.
We spoke to six single parents from the Frolo community about what exactly it is that they love about being a single parent and today we want to share these stories with you. We hope that they inspire you and reassure you that even when it seems tough, there are plenty of benefits to single parenting.
Emily has a four year old son and her new partner of a year has a five year old girl who spends half her time with them.
‘My marriage broke up really unexpectedly in January 2019’ says Emily, ‘and I went through three months of being told it was just a break before finally I discovered he’d been unfaithful and woke up to an email ending our marriage for good. It was devastating. I was heartbroken for my son who was born via IVF as our divorce also meant destroying the frozen embryos that were meant to provide a sibling for him. It seemed as if it would be the end of the world.
I really quickly discovered that it was the best thing that could have happened to me and genuinely feel my year of total single parent life was the happiest year in a decade! It gave me more confidence and the ideas and self belief to start my own business and publish a children’s book. This would never have happened if my ex husband hadn’t walked out and I would really love to help dispel any myths and give a bit of hope to any newly single parent who may be feeling that their world is over.’
Jade is a single mum to her 16 month old son.
‘I am a full single parent,’ explains Jade, ‘solely responsible for my son and it’s all I’ve ever known. I separated from my ex partner when I was five months pregnant for reasons outside of my control. Despite trying many different avenues to facilitate a father and son relationship my ex-partner does not see or help towards raising his son. It is all on me.
I am happier now as a single mum than I have been the past four years. I know I am able to give my child the best version of me and that will always remain a source of happiness and pride. Although being a single parent comes with the obvious challenges it also comes with many positives too, once you accept the path you’re on and ignore the stigma surrounding ‘single parents’ you can truly appreciate how lucky you are.
Becoming a single parent doesn’t need to be the end of life as you know it; for some people like me it’s only the beginning.
Every morning I wake up to the sound of my son babbling away to himself in his cot and this instantly starts my day on a happy note. I do not have to argue with someone day in and day out regarding parental decisions or relationship squabbles; I have the freedom to choose everything myself and raise my son the way I see fit. As I’ve watched him grow from a newborn, to an infant to a toddler the sense of pride I feel is overwhelming because I’ve done it all alone.
I’ve always wanted to start my own business and work for myself but I never had the courage. After maternity leave I lost my stable job and as a single mum, the flexibility I needed to balance motherhood and work was not easy to find. I made the decision to start my own business so I can work for myself around my son with no boss or office to answer to.
Becoming a single parent doesn’t need to be filled with doom and gloom or the end of life as you know it; for some people like me it’s only the beginning.’
Julie is a solo mum by choice to baby Betsy.
‘I honestly think it’s easier doing this single!’ says Julie. ‘No compromising, no judgements on someone else’s style or approach, no resentments about who’s the most tired, no schedules to navigate around, no side-eye about how much I’m on my phone, how much TV we watch or what I eat! Literally the only downside seems to be that I’d love a cuppa made for me occasionally, but even then I’m pretty confident I can train the dog to do it.’
Celine has a seven year old daughter and a four year old son. She has been single since her husband left when she was six months pregnant.
‘I always felt being a single mum had a stigma attached.’ says Celine. ‘Initially I got hung up on feeling like a failure, feeling ashamed that people looked at me differently, like I didn’t fit into the ‘norm’, but then I thought I should focus on my achievements, the fact I got through the most difficult time, and my children thrived from it and are happy, healthy and kind hearted children. I feel proud of my achievements – little things like getting through a tough day, turning the littlest of things into a special adventure for them, for working and taking pride in my job, becoming a strong independent woman who pays for our home and for making the most amazing memories.
Whilst I don’t get the encouragement or support from a partner in parenting I can honestly say that whilst it’s twice the work, it’s twice the pride! I’m not dependent on another human, it’s all on me, and that’s a feeling I wouldn’t have if I weren’t single! If I do treat myself to something expensive I have done it knowing everything else has been paid for and provided for and that feeling is amazing – it means I am one strong independent woman!’
Wendy is a mum to five children, including two sets of twins, three of whom still live at home.
‘I left a very toxic marriage,’ explains Wendy, ‘and was left with nothing. I didn’t want to be on my own at home whilst the kids were with their Dad so I decided to empty my account and go to New York for a few days. I decided on that trip that I was in charge of my own narrative and that the tag of single mum and all the negative connotations were not going to define me.
I’m 46, recently graduated with a first degree, and I’m about to start a masters in a completely different career, training to become a psychologist! None of this could have been done in my restrictive previous marriage. I have no one to answer to or consider aside from myself.
As single parents we underestimate our skills and resilience. Just getting through an average week takes a whole lot of skills and organisation that we shoulder singlehanded. Never be afraid to be your own champion!
I decided that I was in charge of my own narrative and that the tag of single mum was not going to define me.
Sam is a single parent to Sonny, aged four.
‘Solo parenting is hard, it’s intense, and I say that as someone who has a pretty low-maintenance child and a great support network! BUT it’s also the most rewarding relationship in the world. Me and my boy have an incredible and unique bond.
I’m not going to discredit the plight of single parents at all, I know it’s damn hard, but that doesn’t mean it’s unhappy or that they’re aren’t benefits to single parenting. This wasn’t how I thought my life would pan out but I absolutely love it now, more than anything and wouldn’t have it any other way.’