My years as a single mum
I was newly 23 having the time of my god dang life in Europe when I found out I was going to be a parent. Very sudden. Very unexpected. Like on a level of ‘I have a Jardelle in my arm’ unexpected. Like ‘fuck, I am already 25 weeks pregnant’ unexpected. Someone has to be the 1% it fails in though right?!
So the Big S (baby daddy) and I gave this whole relationship lark another solid crack. He jumped the ditch and we attempted Auckland life with a newborn. Unhappy? not really, we were friends who wanted the best for each other. Unfulfilled? most definitely. I loved him - and I still do. But I wasn’t in love with him and I believe there is a big difference. Looking back we lead highly stressful lives in the pursuit of what we thought was fulfilment. So shortly after keeping our wee girl alive for a year, I called it. Why?
If you’ve never been in that situation you really don’t know what you would do. Much like any situation that changes the course of peoples lives.
I decided that the biggest thing as parents that we can teach our children, is what love looks like, and that starts in their home. On no level did I want her to believe this is what real love is. That a full-blown passionate loving relationship is not just two flatmates being pass agg at each other every night about the dishes. I wanted to love the big S with the same intensity that I loved her - but I didn’t. And in my immaturity of being 24 years old, I wasn’t even willing to try. So I did the only thing I knew how to do when I didn’t like a situation I was in - I bailed.
Quite frankly, the leaving - that’s the easy part. Any single mum can tell you that! It's easy to live a day at a time for a while. But then you’ve got to figure out which narrative you want to write for the next part of the journey. Work hard and show the nay-sayers you can do it all? Or quit your job, tell yourself you’re not coping and live off what Jacinda offers every week for procreating successfully? (In my day it was John - bless him he wasn’t offering as much)
I took a job in the provinces and followed my own passions. Life on my own with a dependent really fucken tested me. How do you simultaneously support someone else’s dream and try to pursue your own? While paying your mortgage and parenting a kid to turn out a decent human? What helped was teaching myself that none of it is adversity. I found that if I just changed that voice in my head nothing was too hard and I could achieve anything.
So I found my tribe, my village, my people and figured out the work/life balance to some extent. But then came that thing I had said I stood for. Love.
It took a long time before I got back on the horse, so to speak. What followed was months of solid ‘Oh my gosh he is great, oh wait no he’s a knob’, with the men who came into my life. My gal pals on the other end of the phone late at night forcing me to recite what I had learned from each failed attempt were golden.
But finally, there he was. Hidden amid all the no-good men was a partner I knew could help me teach Florence about love, among other things. That all-consuming love I knew was meant for me was here.
Fast forward another 18 months and I finally figured out what I actually needed to teach her the most. Self-love. Without loving myself there is no way this gorgeous man would have come into my life. By loving myself, my nearly five-year-old sponge also has no reason to not love herself too.
So choose love. Always.