Being a Single Mum isn’t just about chain-smoking cheap fags while you lean on a broken-down picket fence as the madly-overgrown grass tickles your knickers, bitching to your neighbour about the 15 fathers of your 20 different kids and moaning about the pathetic benefits you had to lie and cheat to get.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that – God knows we’ve all had our moments – but there’s more to being a Single Mum than that one-dimensional, woefully outdated stereotype suggests.
These days, loads of Single Mums are happy to be winging it on their own: doing their best for the kids while revelling in their freedom, independence and hard-won custody of the remote control.
Listen: Single mum Canna Campbell is on a mission.
Single Mums don’t have to argue about parenting stuff with their clueless other halves, they don’t have to be constantly disappointed by his no-shows at kids’ concerts, they don’t have to take him into consideration when ordering a Chinese takeaway – and they don’t have to feel bad about loving (nearly) every minute of it.
I often get the warm glow of ever-so-slightly smug contentment when I spy a warring couple looking fed up and frustrated, bickering over their baby’s head about who had the least sleep last night and whose turn it is to push the pram and WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BLOODY LEARN TO CHANGE A NAPPY, THEN?
Because, as a good Single Mum friend of mine so eloquently puts it, “There are millions of Single Mums out there – and most of them are married.”
When it comes to winging it on one’s own, there appears to be only one Golden Rule: there are no rules.
And considering there isn’t a Single Mum-ifesto, Declaration of Indy-Mum-nence or, indeed, The Single Mumna Carta (ENOUGH! Ed) out there, here are 10 commandments I cobbled together earlier:
1. Thou shalt not badmouth thine Ex.
Or at least not in front of the kids. Yes, even if thine Ex hast been a bit of a dick.
2. Thou shalt give it thy best shot at being friends with thine Ex – even if thou canst not stand the guy.
Bite your tongue and think of the kids. And the maintenance payments.
3. Thou shalt not let the superior, sneery judginess of others get thee down.
They’re probably jealous of thy comparative freedom, after all, stuck in their small lives of quiet desperation as they undoubtedly are.
4. Thou shalt not give a rat’s arse about thy so-called friends who let thee down when thou needst them most.
Thou findst out who thy real friends are when thou becomest an SM and thou’ll be surprised by the ones who fall by the wayside when the shit really hits ye fan.
5. Thou shalt not eat thy feelings – particularly if thy feelings are made out of Lindor Balls.
Or at least not every night. And anyway, family blocks of Cadbury’s Fruit ‘n’ Nut art way cheaper – and even go some way towards thy five a day.
6. Thou shalt rest assured that this fresh hell of half-term, too, shalt pass.
School holidays can be a tough time for ye olde Single Mums – but also prime fun time for McDonald’s, duvet days and Spongebob marathons (which thou canst easily snooze through, no worries).
7. Thou shalt be proud and revel in thy new-found status as A Single Mum.
And thank thy lucky stars thou gotst out of thine own crap relationship, because now thou canst really love and look after those kids properly without some pretender moaning and droning on in ye background about how tired / poor he is.
8. Thou shalt resist temptation to compare thyself with other mums.
Thy kids will do enough of that for thee. And it won’t be pretty. So give thyself a break and remind thyself how utterly marvellous thou art – thy kids are still alive!
9. Thou shalt almost expect married maters at thy school gates to mistake thee for a threat and eye thee with suspicion.
They do this because they can’t imagine anything worse than being a Single Mum – but thou knowst better (and have they seen their husbands lately?! Ha! As if!)
10. Thou shalt think of ye perks of being a Single Mum when life at ye coalface gets tough (from approx. 6:30 am-8:30 pm daily)
Throughout the tears and tantrums (mostly thine own, usually), thou willst maybe get a sec to think about the movie/cake/bath/bottle of gin thou willst immerse thyself in when thine Ex takes the kids off your hands every second weekend.
11. Thou shalt get in amongst it on thine own local dating scene when – and, indeed, if – thou art ready and feeling up for ’t.
Elite Singles ist apparently fantastic for meeting like-minded potential love interests. If, however, ’tis only a quick bunk-up thou art after, try Tinder.
12. Thou shalt embrace ye sisterhood of single mums.
And bin thine own prejudices. For united we stand, divided we fall etc.
13. Girl, thou shalt put thy records on regularly and play thy favourite songs.
Show thy kids how in charge thou art by playing great songs about strong, cool women. I Am Woman by Helen Reddy springs to mind. Great for defusing tension, breakfast kitchen dancing and helping thy kids’ feminist principles and musical tastes develop correctly (ie mirroring thine own).
14. Thou shalt accept thou did playest thy part in the split.
Thou art big enough to take half the responsibility – thou art a grown up, after all. And anyway, thine Ex started it – nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah. Now where wast thou? Yea, verily, acting all grown up…
Oops – went up to 14. Maths never was a strong point. Sorry.
Anyway, armed with this timely guide to what to expect when you’re expecting to become a Single Mum, you and your no-doubt gorgeous kids can live Happily Ever After, unfettered by social stigma or handbrake husbands. Now let thy joy be unconfined!