5 things that changed when I became a single parent

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Emily was devastated when her marriage ended in 2019, but she soon discovered some positives to being a single parent that she wasn’t expecting.

My marriage broke up really unexpectedly, on my part at least, in January 2019. I went through three months of being told it was just a break, that he was temporarily staying at his mum’s but definitely coming home, before finally I discovered he’d been unfaithful and woke up to an email ending our marriage for good. 

It was devastating, in so many ways. It was a complete shock and I was heartbroken for my son. He was born via IVF and our divorce also meant destroying the frozen embryos that were meant to provide a sibling for him.

To start with it seemed as if being a single parent would be the end of the world but I really quickly discovered that it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

These are just a few of the reasons why…

I rediscovered my value.

When my husband left he told me I’d become ‘just a mum’.  While being a mum is the most important job and I absolutely don’t think there is anything ‘just a mum’ about it, I probably had let being a parent absorb me and I had very little self worth left. 

Being a single mum has made me see the reality. I’m a Head of Marketing who can spend one day presenting to a board and the next day jumping into puddles. I’m a mum who loves spending time with my son and bonus daughter from my new relationship, (no ‘step’ in our house), but equally I relish child free time. I love to lie in and spend all morning reading a magazine or sitting in the pub drinking too much red wine and laughing with friends.

I’m responsible but I believe in myself enough to take a few risks. I’m constantly broke as I don’t get any child maintenance, (long story), but that means that everything I provide for my son gives me a real sense of pride, and I’m hugely lucky to have very supportive parents.  Our co-parenting relationship has it’s ups and downs but on the whole is very civil – he recently came round for lunch with us on our son’s birthday.  I am now very confident in setting boundaries to protect myself though.

I am more confident.

Not just in my parenting, but in life generally.  So many of my friends kept telling me at the start how strong I was to be doing it all, and I know there is a tendency for single mums to say that we don’t have a choice, we have to be strong, but actually I am really proud of how I’ve not just coped but thrived.

I’m less inclined to sit back and just accept what I don’t like and more inclined to get up and try to change it.  For example, I hate the fact that there are no fun books for kids featuring characters who are from single parent families and, after an awful bedtime where I read Teddy Stick Man and he asked me if Father Christmas was going to bring his daddy home, I decided to do something about it. I have now written a couple of stories, one of which is currently being illustrated to be published this year.  

I’ve become myself again.

We live in a new house, in the area in which I always wanted to live before being convinced out of it by my husband. Instead of living in a new build that has been painted his choice of neutral, muted colours, I’m now living in a slightly ramshackle Victorian terrace with a pink front door that I’m slowing doing up bit by bit. 

It’s a bit shabby round the edges but full of colour, rainbows, laughter and reflects our life perfectly. Even my style has changed. I now wear things that make me happy – silver sequin trainers, bright pink leopard print, hot underwear – and I love it!

My social life got better.

Yes being the primary single parent means I can’t pop out on a spur of the moment in the evening when I have my son, but it does mean I can plan to have a social life. 

My ex-husband wasn’t the most sociable unless it just involved drinking in a pub or watching the rugby, and since we split up I’ve caught up with friends I’d lost touch with, spent more time out and about with friends, and been for weekends away, including to Paris with my girlfriends. Paris is where the ex proposed to me so we went to reclaim the city and I threw my wedding ring back into the Seine!

I’m choosing the direction of my own life. 

I’ve started writing a blog, which has been incredibly cathartic. I’ve had so many messages from women in the same position telling me how positive they find it, which feels amazing.

This year will see me start my own small business, which is totally inspired by my experience of being a single mum, plus publish a children’s book and hopefully lots more exciting things!

Read more from Emily on Instagram or on her blog, Pop Goes Perfection.

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