parent opinion

The silver linings of being a single mum (that nobody talks about).

I need to caveat this very polarising claim — I cannot speak on behalf of the superhero single parents (statistically mums) who have sole custody of their kids and don't get breaks.

But for those of us who do… it can be exhausting being the only grown-up in the house, having a million spinning plates in the air and the militant organisation, meal prep and budgeting it requires.

When facing adversity I try to find the silver linings to every grey cloud. They're always there when you're looking for them. And one of those is that we somewhat get to lead a double life. 

Watch: A spoken word video starring Laura Bryne articulating the contradiction of pressures that mothers face in their daily lives. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

I didn't come to this realisation straight away; it was totally traumatic at first. Like someone had taken away the very oxygen I breathed. 

But I recall reading somewhere early on: "You never get used to not being with your kids, but you get better at filling your time." And you do. 

And for half my time, I am able to be totally selfish. A foreign concept to many parents (statistically mums). I get to have this whole other life I didn't have before.

I go to the gym regularly and am healthier than I've been in years. I can go out after work and not rush home to after-school care to get dinner on or work around anyone else's schedule. 


I get every second weekend where I am not an Uber driver ferrying to and from sporting games and kids' parties. I go to brunch, go to the beach, read a book, go out, and dance on tables.

I make sure my social calendar is filled with plans that are beneficial to me. Image: Supplied.

It's like I've gotten to reclaim a part of myself I lost being a wife and primary carer for so long.


I am good at filling my social calendar but have also gotten good at being on my own. And I am proud of that. Being single and having half my time to myself, I got my identity back. 

But more than that, there's a strength and resilience ingrained in my new identity. 

And when I am with my kids? I cherish every second I get with them. I have more patience and am so appreciative of the time I do have with them that I used to take for granted.

I've become a "fun mum". I'm way more relaxed and don't sweat the small stuff: 

Ice cream for dinner? Sure! (sometimes).

Picnic in front of the telly watching (age-inappropriate) reality TV? Definitely! 

We get to do activities together now that I enjoy doing with the kids and, even though I see them less, I don't feel like a spectator on the sidelines anymore.

We have this enriched commune-esque lifestyle. Our house is always bustling with friends, music and kids. It's a happy home. 

I have grown braver and more competent. They see me using a drill to fix things. I jump off jetties into the sea with them; I play basketball with them and video games. Stuff I didn't prioritise doing before.

And I guess that's about maximising my time with them and connection but I also want them to see women as strong, brave and capable.

I want them to respect the women in their life as they grow older, so as their mum I am being someone they can respect, which I didn't really think about before.


A while ago I had another single mum friend over with her sons and we were trying to get the TV to work, which was a farce, and her youngest son said "My mum will figure it out she can do anything." And we did. 

And I think sons of single mums innately grow to respect women because they've seen us do it all, on our own. 

And we have grown closer, me and my two boys, because we are a tight little unit, a trio. We dance around the house to songs and we've developed new rituals we didn't have before.

Would I choose this life? No. 

I miss them when I'm not with them. It goes against the very instinct we form from the moment they are plonked on our chest. To sniff their heads and kiss them goodnight every night. 

When I am with them, there's a feeling of wholeness that I don't have when they're not there. 

But I didn't get a choice, so I'm choosing to make the best of it. And I do. 

Like many things in life that test us, that breaks down the very fibre of our being, when we do manage to rebuild ourselves back together again, it can be the making of us.

I would go as far as saying that as a single mum, I am a more present, better parent than I was before. And for that, and for all the reasons above. I can only have gratitude for all the silver linings it brings.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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