This is a memo to all single mums out there, putting on their pyjamas and possibly pouring themselves a glass of wine on a Saturday evening. Little ones bathed, read to, sung to, kissed on the cheeks, watched as they drift to sleep; beautifully perfect (tantrums forgiven as you ponder how you could’ve created such a precious little human). You’ve probably cleared the carnage of mega-blocks and plastic toy paraphernalia from the lounge floor, scraped uneaten suppers off plates and washed the dishes. You’ve mopped up the bathroom, fed the cat; realised you’d put some washing on at 3pm and it still needs hanging. Then there are the things you need to do which you can’t do with a little person craving every ounce of your attention; – work out when your car MOT is due, update your CV, make a birthday card, brave the never ending phonecall to Tax Credits, write a letter to a nun in India (okay, maybe that one’s just me!) … only, you haven’t actually had supper yet, and all you want to do is crawl into bed (because you can be sure little darling will be up at 5am.)
You scroll through social media and everyone seems to be dressing up ready for a good night out. And it’s fucking lonely; no matter how much you love your kids (and I know your heart bursts for them; it’s what we do …) Sometimes you look at the parents at nursery, or in the park – and imagine the perfect family dynamics, the loving gazes over the breakfast table and the way he/she gets in from work and helps with the chores but also provides adult company/conversation. And then you beat yourself up for being a single parent in the first place – if only things had been different; what if you’re irrevocably damaging your child by not raising them in a “family unit”. What if you’re just messing it all up?
2am, maybe again at 3.15 and 4.08, you’re shouted for. They need a cuddle, or a drink, or have had a bad dream. Sometimes you’ll crawl into their toddler bed and sing to them until they go back to sleep. Sometimes you bundle them into bed with you, hoping beyond hope that you can all get some sleep before morning (and never admit you do this as you’ll inevitably be accused of making a big fat rod for your own back). You wish there was someone else to share the night time calls. I know that sometimes you lie awake wondering what you’re going to cook for tea tomorrow; if you’ve got enough money to last til pay day; what you’re going to do with the rest of your life to better provide for their future …
This might be the hardest thing you ever have to do – but you’re doing it. Every day you get up, and put your kids first; they are fed, clean, chaotic, noisy, bumbling children. They adore you. Sure, there are days when you just want some space; you just want to hide behind the kitchen door and cry because you don’t want to watch another episode of Peppa fucking Pig; but you take a breather and deal with it. You are showing your children what it is to be strong; what it is to be resilient. Raising little people is not an easy task whether you’re in a relationship or not; but the emotional loneliness of doing it by yourself can be all consuming. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you that you’re doing an okay job.
And that’s why I’m writing this memo, and raising my glass of wine to all of you/us, in this together. Hang in there, sisters; we are doing something wonderful in every cluttered, endless day. It may not always seem it, but we are.