I was browsing through a bunch of old photos this morning, and came across a set of them that made me grin. They date back quite a few years now, to when it was just I and my then-toddler daughter at home. Her cheeks are round and rosy, she’s smiling and I’m smiling. Our eyes are sparkling as we giggle over something and, it struck me…we were really happy then.
We weren’t happy in the way where we were being determinedly happy in spite of something. We weren’t covering something sad up in an effort to make a life – we had made a life. At that time? I was a single mom.
I’m not debating that we are not happy now – we most definitely are. We are far into the transitional journey that our little family has taken, where we are well settled into life as a triangle and not a mom-and-kid duet.
When I became a single mom, I remember reading countless articles about how hard it was, how scared people are of it and – my best – how societally destructive it is to be a single parent…how the single-parent family does children a disservice.
Reading those pieces made me feel a twinge of fear, and half-convinced me that I was messing up my kid’s life, dooming her to an unhappy life. Even my own mom had deep concerns over it but, about three years into being a single parent, I felt a deep sense of life happiness.
Yes, becoming a single parent was utterly petrifying, and it was bloody difficult. There were days that I felt like I had it all wrong, and days where I was pretty certain I had completely cocked up on this score. But, looking back, I realise that I still feel that way sometimes, and I no longer regard myself as a single parent.
I suppose this reflection came at a good time for me. This month, it will be eight years since I became a single mom. And, in that time, I’ve also “unbecome” a single mom. In fact, the eras of our family are almost evening out, time-wise now. We were a single parent household for five years, and we’ve almost reached the three-year mark as being a two-parent household.
What's been most interesting for me to discover though, was that – looking back – we were happy. Even though I was raising a child on my own and so many people had furrowed brows around me, my kid and I had a life that we loved. We laughed a lot and created a sea of memories that have stuck with us. We still dance around like silly people, we still sing very loudly (and mostly out of tune, for me). We still talk like we did - it’s just that there are regularly three people in the conversation nowadays.
And yes, money was tight but we made it through. We never went hungry or ended up homeless. Heck, money is still tight nowadays but the load is shared more. We had a lot of love and we had a lot of tough times but…the former got us through the latter.
So, please, don’t doubt single parent-families. There’s just as much love in the homes headed by one, as there is in a family headed by two. And, lastly, don’t be afraid of being a single parent… because I promise you that if you must do it, you’ll find happiness within it. It may take a while, you may be scared and it may feel very lonely at some point, but, I promise you, there’s a smiling Saturday morning photograph in your future that’ll tell you exactly where you discovered your family joy.
Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
What was your experience as a single parent family?