I’m sitting at my desk, just had my ‘low in fat’ noodle salad and had a message to remind me, ‘Have you written a blog’?
My sister, Laura, is the creator of this magical place and us sisters have been invited to take part! I’m not great at writing as generally I keep things to myself, I’m not a huge fan of diaries either so as I type I’m feeling some what exposed! I was the youngest to start my family at the age of 18. I’m now 26 and a proud mummy to two beautiful children.
I’ve always said that women are never ‘ready’ for children, even if you are married, paying a mortgage and have travelled the world, children are still an adjustment to us all. I’d booked a trip with my sister Lucy to Thailand, I was excited but also worried about the ‘bugs’ and the ‘BnB’s’. You could say I’m the sibling that prefers the finer things, I’m very tidy and organised and have a slight OCD in the home. Laura and Lucy geared me up for the trip with photos and crazy stories of their experiences, there was no turning back. A few weeks before the trip I went to my GP Appointment for my jab only to discover that I couldn’t have my jab as I was carrying a baby! Lucy and I still went to Thailand for a relaxing two weeks whilst my new life journey sank in.
At the time I was working a temp role as an admin assistant, I started at 08.30 and didn’t finish till 18.30, it was a long and demanding day but it soon came to the last day and I signed off on maternity. It was only two weeks later that I had my son and a few years later along came his sister! My journey has been a complicated one, an emotional rollercoaster that my family have travelled with me. Like all families the dynamics are drastic but when s**t hits, those dynamics fill every part of ‘what you need’.
I became a single mum when my daughter was 9 months old, my son was 3. I’ve always had faith and my prayers were to simply show me what my next journey was and a little bit of why do I have to have this journey? I remember an image that was sent to me, ‘God gives the strongest people the hardest challenges’.
Holding ‘single-motherhood’ by its mighty horns I powered on to raise my beautiful children.
I hadn’t returned to work since I signed off on maternity when I was 18, I had also not made that call to say, ‘Sorry I wont be coming back’. With my tail between my legs I called back my employer and had the wonderful conversation of, ‘Remmeber me? Oh yes, I’m free to come back now…3years late’. My daughter was 10 months old, I bought a £100 dress from Zara (with the intention of possibly taking it back) and went off for my job interview. Totally mummy brained I walked into the head office, sat around a boardroom table and was interviewed by 6 staff members in fancy suits. I felt totally out of my comfort zone but was so desperate to secure a job for financial reasons but also to keep my mind busy from the mess that was life at the time.
I got the job, kept the dress and started a week later. Granny stepped on board and helped take care of the children, everything fell into place, I was doing it. I remember reading an article, ‘How to re-adjust your life for single parenthood’ (not quite sure what I was googling) and was reading about tips to keep our new routine as mangeable as possible. ‘Always get your childrens clothes out for the next day, put their shoes beside them and put any bags by the door’….I still do it. Our life became slightly clockwork (a total mess behind closed doors). Granny would always let the children nap at around 4pm and so after returning from work we had lovely (scarcasim) evenings of entertaining and crying before we went to bed to start a new day. The children slept in bed with me, we had a kingsize bed but we still slept with arms and legs all over the place. We have been so lucky throughout our journey as 3. At the time we were living in a property that a friend had kindly rented to us at an affordable price. It was beautiful and BIG, close to my family and was safe for us to be alone. It was quite a fancy area and often felt people looking, I’m sure they wondered what my story was. I look young and at that point in my life looked about 16. Powering the kids to and from the car in my heels and black Zara dress I was a myserty to everyone and was often asked, ‘Are you the Nanny?’. Our time was up and it was time to move home. It wasn’t until we had to move that we had to adjust to change again, this was my chance to fully go at it alone. No more safety nets. I was scared, googling ‘2 bed flat to rent in West London’ is enough to make anyone scared. We had no deposit to move and were faced with life becoming very real.
Within a couple of weeks I had found me and the children a lovely little home. We moved to a one bedroom flat. We sold EVERYTHING bar the kids bunkbeds, boxed up our bits and moved in. The children had the bedroom and I had the lounge. I slept on a sofa bed and had my clothes in a wardrobe by the dining table, it was nice and clean but small – no escape from two little children….
We had a lovely neighbour downstairs who had a little boy my sons age, she always offered for them to pop down so I could do some chores around the flat on a Saturday. She was very sweet, watched us Monday to Friday rally in and out and watched me in the winter nights carry my shopping bags up the stairs followed by one child, running back down to carry the other. It would take me 3-4 trips and up and down to get us all tucked in. You forget how useful an extra pair of hands are when you have two children sleeping and your flat isn’t on the ground floor!
Life was busy, I was still working and taking on more responsbibility. My self confidence had grown knowing that I was doing this whole single mum thing OK. I wasn’t looking for anything more in our life – we were pretty maxed out with routine and general life pressures that all families have. It was at this point when I met ‘the man’, the guy that was at a kids party and whilst looking to see whose his wife was had been told ‘he’s just a friend of the family, he’s single! Nothing transpired until a year later (better late than never) I received a message, something along the lines of, ‘We met a while ago at X’s party – how are you?’
We were dating, it was fun and gave me a kick back into life. It was a healthy time for ME, and sometimes it’s ok to do things for yourself. Sometimes it’s good to feel sassy and enjoy someone’s company other than your children’s. After all, it made me a happier woman and happy mums are happy kids!! London? We moved, that OCD organised, clean shoed woman with her two kids moved, onto a farm!! Life is calmer now, somewhat complete. I was happy on my own but who can’t deny that wonderful feeling of talking to an adult in the evening and having someone else to help with bath time! The children go to a beautiful village school, they leave bags of carrots in the playground for the kids to snack on during play and our local church is identical to the one in Vicar of Dibley! We are still dating and now planning our wedding! He’s a lovely man who is a great father and role model to the children. How lucky we are!
Its a tricky part of single mum life when you meet someone that you feel can be introduced to your ‘team’ (my kids) as not just mummy’s friend. We just had to roll with it and trust it with everything we had.
Slowly you learn to adapt as a family, hand over responsibilities and accept that this is ‘ok’. There’s always the bumpy road of ‘darling you can’t say that’ or ‘sorry the kids have kept you awake for a week, welcome to parenting’.
Advice? Nothing at all, just bounce like a ping pong ball until you find your feet. It’s also ok to cry, it doesn’t mean you failed.