I must start with a disclaimer. First, although I split with my now ex-fiancé in mid-February we only moved out of our jointly owned house at the end of June. Some would argue therefore that I have only really been a single mom for a month. Secondly, and probably most importantly, all single mums are different. Experiences of single moms can vary massively depending on how involved the father is with the child(ren), circumstances of the separation, parental help, finances and possibly most importantly, the age of the child(ren) involved. This is my experience of being a single mom (over the last month) rather than the truth about all single moms. There is no single truth about single moms.
My first month as a single mom has been liberating. I feel as though a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Looking back over the past few months, I really don’t know how I survived. Now that we are no longer living together I feel as though I can breathe again. I no longer listen for the front door dreading his arrival home from work. I no longer have to lie in bed late at night after he has had a rant and listen to him outside my door because he has ‘just one more thing to say…’
I still dread the conversations that we have to have to make arrangements for our son. I dread checking my email or reading my text messages. Often his messages are polite and charming. They are fine. But sometimes they are angry, curt, demanding and domineering. I can’t predict when I am going to receive the charm offensive or the verbally offensive.
Having said all of this, I do feel that I am getting stronger. I feel more able to tell him how I feel. I told him about what I feel about our current arrangements for contact time with our son for example. It took about a week and a lot of family support to psyche myself up to say it. But I did and it was a step in the right direction.
My automatic reaction is still ‘I’m sorry’ whenever he criticises or says that he is unhappy with something, but I am training myself not to just say ‘I’m sorry’. When I stop to think about what he is saying I can see more clearly that he is being unreasonable and selfish. Today for example, after he had changed the time that he wanted to collect our son, he said that I was being unfair for not walking to meet him half way to hand our son over. When I stopped to think about it I could see that he was being unreasonable. He has just been on holiday for a week, he didn’t have his family round for the day (as I did), he has a car and could drive round to mine in 10 minutes, whereas for me it is a 30 minute walk. When I think of all of these things I shouldn’t be saying sorry. One day ‘sorry’ will stop being an automatic reaction.
Things haven’t been as logistically challenging as they could have been. I was already doing all of the morning and evening routines anyway and was used to dashing home from work to get to nursery or to relieve my Mum by 6pm. My ex has found it much more challenging (not that he’d ever admit it) because he wasn’t used to either leaving work at 5pm one day a week or getting up early the next day to take our son to nursery before getting on the train to work. My superhero parents have also been massively supportive. I know that if the trains play up and I cannot get back in time, they will be my back up. I am really lucky to have them.
The next couple of months will continue to be challenging. Life hasn’t settled into a new routine yet, and still feel that things are off balance (I am a Libran, balance is important to me). I have my first session with the family mediator on Friday. We then have sessions together. I have no doubt that the mediation process will be stressful and emotionally challenging. I hope, however, that mediation will help us come to some agreements that we can stick to and that we both agree are reasonable even if they do not marry up with each of our ideals.
Life is good though. In the evenings I sit down with a glass of wine and I get working on my blog, or I get reading some of the wonderfully interesting and inspirational blog posts to be found out there.
Although things are still a bit tough now, they are a lot less tough than they were three months ago. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that I have made the right decision both for me and for our son and that confidence is really empowering.