I’ve been technically single – not married or in a de facto relationship – for eight years. When people express their concern or confusion about this, I tell them that the problem must be that I’m bad in bed.
Lol lol lol. As if.
The fact of the matter is, I am the only adult in my house and I love it.
I’m not a widow. I’m divorced, and I’m the one who did the leaving. This is how I want my life, so why do some people have an issue with it? Why does it make them so uncomfortable?
Why do they tell me that they feel sorry for me because I’m “alone”? That my life is much harder than theirs because I’m not married?
When I left my ex, his other ex-called me and warned, “Being a single parent is hard.”
I told her, “It can’t possibly be as hard as that marriage.” And it never has been.
Don’t get me wrong – being a sole parent, in a single-income home, which is what I am, as I don’t share custody, is hard work. I can’t emphasise that enough.
Listen to this single mum explain how she became smart about money. (Post continues after audio.)
But – and this is a big but – I don’t know any co-parenting parent, or married parent, who doesn’t find that parenthood is bloody hard work. We all have our issues, and our crosses to bear. That’s life.
Most of my married friends don’t need to worry about being the sole bread-winner. They can usually pop to the shops for milk at 9pm, which I couldn’t do until recently. They have support from the other parent of their child to help make decisions and deal with the day’s dramas.
But they don’t always have that. Not every married home is a peaceful one, with both parents equally invested in and active with the kids. Not every married couple agrees on the big decisions for their family.
But every person does have the right to determine how they run their own show – decide which compromises they are willing to make – and we should all respect that.
While the responsibility is 100 percent mine, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m often exhausted, and my life is crazy busy – but when I walk in the door each night, or wake up in the morning, I’m high on freedom – and that’s the absolute truth.
This is my space, what I say goes. No arguments about whose turn it is to do anything, ever. No tedious discussions. No disappointment or frustration that someone else hasn’t done what they were supposed to, and I don’t drive anyone else nuts, because I am responsible for it all. And while that might sound overwhelming to some, to me, it means freedom. And peace.
But my enjoyment of my life stems from something more than just comparing it to my crappy marriage. It’s about the true joy I derive from my independence. It’s about how proud I am of myself as a woman, and a mother. Because it should be, and is, possible to feel that way about yourself, whether you are married or not.
So I think it’s about time the single-pity stopped. In 2017, being ‘alone’ shouldn’t have the stigma it had 100, or even 50, years ago, especially for women, and especially for single mothers.
I remember when I told a certain friend that I was leaving my husband, she was aghast: “But what about the social status? Of being married?”
This from a woman who was raised by a single mother – and obviously had some issues about it.
But she’s not alone in her thinking. From Bridget Jones, to post-Brad Jennifer Anniston, to now single mum to six kids Angelina Jolie – the media’s made it clear that none of those situations are the “ideal.”
Check out some well-known single parents who are absolutely incredible. (Post continues after gallery.)
It’s so archaic; we must de-stigmatise being single. Too much of society revolves around a ‘nuclear family’, and it’s not reflective of reality. My son and I are no less a family than others are, with their two adults.
Our family holidays are no less enjoyable – although are possibly less expensive – than the holidays of two-adult families. A single woman’s career is no less valuable a way of spending her life than a woman who’s chosen to marry and/or have children.
As our world evolves at this rapid rate, there’s an important message here for our kids, too. We all know too many people who stay in unhappy or dangerous relationships because they are afraid of the social stigma attached to being single. There are too many perpetrators of domestic violence who can’t cope when a relationship ends, and once again, that’s partly because of the societal expectation to be attached.
We need to talk to our kids about that, and make them aware that they have choices that we’ll support. Because there are many things worse things in life than being single. Living someone else’s life, and not your own, is one of them.
If you’re a single parent, what are your experiences? Would you prefer to be in a relationship?
Nama Winston is a writer and a recovering solicitor, who just wants us all to be nicer to each other. You can follow her on Facebook here.