I was drinking champagne and eating canapés on Monday night. I wasn’t at some glamorous location, but rather I was in my flat, my own little flat with a few close family members. I was celebrating. I was celebrating something that I feel a little awkward about publicising. I was celebrating the first anniversary of my break-up from my ex.
I was celebrating because I am proud of myself. I am proud of myself for having the balls to make this decision – it took courage, courage that many wouldn’t and don’t have. It took courage to break with social norms and expectations and to leave a relationship to become a single mum. It took courage to make public the fact that all wasn’t fine and dandy in our relationship and that we weren’t speaking. It took courage to admit that my ex wasn’t the person I thought he was; he was Prince Charming but beneath the façade he was anything but charming. He was domineering and controlling. He didn’t commit any major transgressions like hitting me or having an affair or anything. The controlling side of his personality crept up on me. He was not the man I thought he was. I couldn’t be the woman I need to be. It takes courage to admit that you have failed, that you just got it wrong. I am proud of myself for having that courage.
Despite my self pride, this celebration was tinged with guilt and sadness. I feel sad that my son won’t ever have what I had and the privilege to grow up in a home with both of his parents loving each other. Not all kids get this. In fact those who do are really lucky what with 42% of marriages ending in divorce these days and 25% of kids being raised by single parents. And then there’s the staggering but unquantifiable number of couples who are desperately unhappy in their marriage but who stay together ‘for the children’. I feel guilty that I haven’t been able to give Cygnet this happy family future, and I feel even more guilty for celebrating that fact.
I’ve resigned myself to always feeling guilty about this. I will just have to get over it. All parents feel guilty about something. Guilty for not spending enough time with our children. Guilty for putting them in front of the TV. Guilty for not always giving them home cooked food. Most parents are too hard on themselves. Guilt management is probably as important as time management when it comes to successful parenthood. This is my main source of guilt and I will always have to manage it.
So, a year on I have a flat which is taking shape. Still vast amounts of decorating and refurbishment to do, but I can see the progress. I have a good job. I have the odd bit of free time to see friends and to meet interesting people. I have a fantastic family who support me through thick and thin. We are really close.
But most importantly, I am a mother to a wonderful little boy, who has a spark in his eye and a giggle in his belly.
You know what. Life is good. Life is really good. X