I love being a single mother. It’s not always been that way. I was happily married at one point, doing all the happily married things. But life has an uncanny way of disrupting carefully laid plans. So, now I’m a single parent, and I’m here to tell you, that it’s not so bad.
With a third of marriages in Australia ending in divorce, and 50% of those couples having children, being a single parent is no longer the rare occurrence it once was. In fact, I am part of a mass of strong, resilient woman who shun the social stigma, embrace their new path, and ultimately re-model and work toward their alternative happy ever after.
Interestingly, in a survey by Directory of Services for Women with Children, single parent families are the most financially disadvantaged families in Australia. Despite this, 94% of single mothers surveyed by The Age were optimistic about the future – higher optimism than any other group!
You see, when a woman becomes a single mother, they change. Often, they don’t even realise it’s happening as they are so busy surviving their separation and protecting their children. It’s a gradual process, it’s a positive process, and it’s one from which there is no return.
Since becoming a single mum, I have become more independent, resilient, optimistic and ambitious. I have learnt to overcome and to adapt. I have learnt to accept and to forgive. And most importantly, I have learnt that we simply never know what’s around the corner… and that is actually ok.
I can build flat packs, fix taps and change the oil in my car. Hell, I can even unblock drains for goodness sake. If someone had asked me to navigate an ‘s’ bend in my married years, I would have laughed and called for my husband.
And the very best bit is, as a woman transitioning into a single mother, her children are watching. As they watch, they learn. They learn lessons that will affect their lives and the choices they make in the future. They see mum doing what is traditionally thought of as ‘man stuff’ and if they are being co-parented, they see dad doing what is traditionally thought of as ‘women stuff’. Stereotypes are fading, opportunities are opening and they have proof that they can do anything if they put their mind to it.
As for the happily ever after, I take my hat off to the couples that find it… to the woman that finds her prince. To make a marriage work takes commitment and dedication. It takes a whole lot more too, but I never got that far. To the couples who grow old together, I commend and admire you.
Yet, what I will say is that happily ever after comes in many different forms. It may be a prince. I may find mine yet. However, it can be different things to different people. It can as simple as a safe, comfortable home. It can be a feeling, like contentment or peace. It can be a life goal such as a successful career or a new business. Maybe happily ever after for some is seeing their children grow to be happy, healthy adults.
After the whirlwind and possible chaos of a separation, it’s quite normal for a single mum to have absolutely no idea what they want. But the exciting part is that, as an independent woman, you now have total control over your destiny.
I speak to hundreds of single mothers every week, and am constantly astounded by what these women are achieving. They are sole carers and co-parents. They work, they study, they aspire to be a better version of themselves every single day. And when the going gets tough, which is does as a single mother, they put their heads down and keep going. I am in awe of them and they inspire me to be women I have become.
So, my message to the single mums reading this is: keep going. You are in control of the next chapter of your life. Make sure it’s a good one. And never give up on your happy ending, whatever form it may take.