This Mother’s Day I’ll be spending the day having lunch with my husband and my 20 month old son.
At some stage they’ll give me my present and we’ll soak up the lovely autumn day and we might even go for a walk afterwards.
And to any passerby we will seem like the epitome of a “normal” young family, except for the fact that we most definitely aren’t.
Because to look at us there are so many things that you wouldn’t know.
You wouldn’t know that my husband and I have been separated for nearly a year and a half, after I packed up the car and left the matrimonial home with my son when he was only three months old.
You wouldn’t know the turmoil we were in in the lead up to our separation and how hard we tried to make it work before I finally accepted what we both knew deep down, that we were fundamentally incompatible and always would be.
You wouldn’t know that I couldn’t leave that relationship for myself but I was strong enough to do it for my son because I wasn’t willing to put him through a lifetime of his parents arguing. You would never guess that I am actually a family lawyer and have advised people in my situation hundreds of times before, yet never thought I’d end up here myself.
You wouldn’t see the private moments of pain and turmoil that we both go through, and although I am not privy to my husband’s suffering, I can say that I personally have had many nights where in the privacy of my flat I have opened (and drunk) a bottle of wine, put my wedding rings on (and sometimes my wedding video, in my most self loathing moments) and cried my eyes out.
You would never know that despite the many issues that we have with one another my husband and I make a choice on a daily basis to put our son first and to treat each other as friends so that our son can have some sense of normalcy and experience what it is like to have two parents who care for one another.
You wouldn’t realize that my husband and I regularly have to press the “reset” button and put our issues with each other to the side, although we often want to tell each other to “fuck off”, and sometimes do, yet we’ll still spend every Christmas and Easter together with our son because our love for him is more important than our problems with each other.
You would have no idea that I am a child of divorce myself, and that having been through the experience myself of having my parents bag each other when I was growing up, I will not tolerate anyone in my life criticizing my son’s father in front of my son or anyone else for that matter. You’d never know that my experience as a family lawyer has made me all too aware that many mother’s out there withhold children from their father’s for their own selfish reasons, and that I am absolutely determined to promote my son’s bond with his Dad no matter what.
You’d be surprised to know that although we are separated my husband and I still speak daily about our son, that we communicate by phone and email and regularly share photos.
You would never know how much I hate the label “single mum’” and how derogatory it can feel when certain people say it knowing full well that many people now see me as being in a disadvantaged group of society, no matter how successful and intelligent I otherwise might be. You would never be aware of how much it pisses me off that my husband will never experience such prejudice because the same stigma rarely applies to “single dads”.
Women confess the moment they realised their relationship was over. Post continues after video.
You wouldn’t guess that I secretly resent my friends who are in unhappy relationships but put on a brave front to the world and hide behind the safety of that when I am judged because I cannot hide the fact that my world has seemingly crumbled, although at the same time I am damn proud of myself for having the strength to live my truth and walk away.
And when I do get handed that Mother’s Day present on Sunday, you’d have no idea that I’m secretly pissed off that my husband is handing it to me in a National Pharmacies bag because he couldn’t be fucked wrapping the one present I asked for, the black eyeliner that I had to remind him 10 times to buy, when on Father’s Day I made sure he had an assortment of beautifully wrapped gifts including a heartfelt card and a large mug declaring “Number 1 Dad!!”.
So when you see that happy family this Mother’s Day, don’t necessarily think you know their story, because things aren’t always what they seem.
And on that note – cheers to all the single Mama’s out there and Happy Mother’s Day for Sunday, you guys are all bad-asses, much love and respect!