Some of the things I've learned over the past two years...
Bit of a rambly, honest post from me today. Ten things I wanted to share about the reality of being a single parent (not all bad!) but just a bit of honesty I guess. I love to share the positives of my life but it's not as easy as I maybe make it seem and I just want to talk about the other side of things. I'm hoping that another single mama reading this may be able to relate and potentially feel less like an outsider compared to other parents, so here you are, ten things I've learned over the past two years single-handedly raising Ru...
It can be so lonely.
I love Ru, he is my whole world and do you know what? I love it just being us. I love sharing a bed with him and getting him to myself most of the time. He's a dream and we have the best bond, but... it can get lonely at times. Really lonely. Sometimes I get days where the world is just on my shoulders you know? I'm the only one he has to raise him, protect him, and give him everything he needs. And I know I am completely capable of doing it, but it doesn't make it any less lonely at times. It's just something that I don't really share or talk about because I guess I try and keep the worries and the stress at the back of my head. I like to keep a positive mindset so generally I just like to focus on the good things and not think about things that 'could' happen. Sometimes I can't help it though, I think it's mostly down to my anxiety if I'm being completely honest!
There's so much sacrifice.
I would say that Ru and I have a pretty great life. He changed my life for the better and I can't even remember what life was like before him anymore. But I have had to sacrifice a lot. Fortunately for me, career wise it's worked out, but I had to give up the hopes of ever getting a job as a graduate as I was heavily pregnant when I left uni. I guess any mother would have to do the same, it's not really an exclusive single parent scenario, but I suppose it's just harder when it's all on you to earn enough money to raise your child. I gave up any 'freedom' I would have had as a fresh-out-of-uni 20 year old and I wouldn't change any of it, of course, but it's important to be honest about the reality of this stuff I guess?
It's annoying when people compare solo parenting to being a single parent.
It's not the same. Whilst it's by no means a game of 'who has it harder' - it's just a bit insulting that some people even dare compare the two. Sure, you might have the kids 90% of the time and do most of it alone whilst your partner is at work, but there are still two of you. You have someone to celebrate your kids milestones with, you have someone to chat to about what a perfect tiny human you've made together. You have someone to rant at or cry to when it's been a bad day, when everything goes wrong and you're feeling the ultimate mum guilt. You have someone to share your worries and fears with, to share the financial burdens with. You have someone. And it's not even about just having a partner or someone to be there for you, it's about having a whole other person who created this child with you and has been there every step of the way. You have someone who can give you a break if you desperately need one, I've never had that, and it pisses me off a bit when mums have the kids for a couple of days with no help and they think it's anything like doing it completely alone. It isn't.
It's difficult raising a child on one income.
I am lucky in that I've never struggled to live, sure I've had little to no money - but I am fortunate in that I have a family to fall back on when I've needed it. Having said that, it's incredibly hard to get a mortgage, or even rent as a single parent. Especially being self-employed on top! When you're a family of three, you have two adults splitting the rent, the bills, the food, and everything else that comes with raising a kid. I have to cover everything on my own and finding deposits and rent and paying bills is bloody hard. My goal is to get Ru and I a house of our own as we got kicked out of our last house after 18 months, despite being told we could stay there for years and years. It would be nice to not have to live with that risk you know? It's a nightmare moving house as it is and landlords are just crap. But I know getting a mortgage on my own is going to be even harder, so it's just a bit shit.
Five minutes alone? Forget it.
I never ever ever, ever get time to myself. Being back at home actually helps a bit as my sister and brothers love playing with him and keeping him occupied whilst I get on with stuff upstairs, but he still comes to find me every five minutes. Most of the time I can't even have a bath without having to have him in with me. I rarely get to go anywhere without him, so a nice shopping trip or spa day is never on the cards. I obviously don't mind but I guess it wouldddd be nice sometimes, especially at the moment as the terrible twos is real.
I have to put myself first.
Reuben is without a doubt my main priority, but to look after him, I have to put myself first every time. I guess I'm putting both of us first in reality, but I have to make sure I'm the best version of myself for his sake. This can be in many different forms, from big things like cutting off toxic family members, down to the nitty gritty such as clearing my social media for the sake of my mental health. Ultimately, if something is going to affect me and my life, then it's going to affect Reuben's too, so I always look out for #1.
The bond is nothing short of incredible.
I was always told when I was pregnant that I'd have the best bond with my baby, and it's been so true. I mean mothers have an amazing bond with their children regardless, but when you raise a little one alone, it's just something else entirely. Whenever Ru is upset or tired, it's me he runs to find and wants to cuddle. He has an amazing bond with his grandma & grandad and even they are never good enough - it always has to be me! I can leave a room for all of five minutes and he'll scream with joy when I walk back in like he hasn't seen me in weeks. It's so sweet. He won't even nap without me these days, he gets cross with me until I've got into bed and laid down next to him. At night he has to be laying on me or cuddled up to me, otherwise he gets upset and won't go to sleep. Sometimes he just pulls a chair up to my desk and wants to sit next to me playing whilst I work. There's so many little things he does, and honestly, everything just melts my heart, I love our relationship - it's the best!
There's the other side to the strong bond I have with Ru as it means he can be quite a clingy child and I adore him but sometimes I get so sick of him wanting me or shouting me constantly if he's tired or hungry. I guess all kids can be whiney but when there's no other parent to share that side of things with - my patience can get a bit short. I always feel horribly guilty for getting tired of him or cross but sometimes it's just too much you know? I'm only human and it can just get exhausting being the only parent at times.
I have flourished as a person.
I think I've mentioned this more than once, but since Reuben has come into my life, I have just flourished as a person. My social anxiety is not even close to what it used to be, I would get insanely anxious around other people and in certain environments, and now I just don't care. There was a point in my life where I would avoid any situation that made me feel anxious and there isn't much that stops me now. I have suffered with anxiety quite severely in the past (and I still do sometimes) but I can 100% put my new found confidence and improved mental health down to Reuben. It improved after he was born but over the past two years, raising him alone, I have had to overcome so much and be such a strong person that I've just grown into this amazing version of myself that I never knew existed. I wouldn't wish to change anything that's happened in my life as I don't think I ever thought I'd feel this content with myself.
It's SO rewarding.
My biggest accomplishment without a doubt is Ru. He is not perfectly behaved by any means (hello terrible twos) but he is such a sweet and loving little boy and I'm so proud of him. Knowing that I have raised him by myself and seeing what a beautiful little boy he's becoming is just the most heart warming feeling, I have no idea what I'm doing right but he really is the ultimate babe - and no matter how stressed or guilty I sometimes feel, I would be nothing without him. Motherhood is such a rollercoaster of a journey but at the end of the day, we're all just doing our best!