Proud to be a single mum

I watched Myleene Klass’ documentary Single Mums on benefits on Tuesday evening.  She has since been criticised for being a rich single mum going round and interviewing other single parents who live very different lives.  The benefits angle and the title were unnecessary in my view and no doubt chosen to reel in additional (Daily Mail reading) viewers.  This was a shame.

Myleene did manage to portray a broad spectrum of single motherhood.  She also showed the pride, the accomplishment, the challenges, the love and the warmth that single mums have. 

I am proud to be a single mum … but I have always been afraid to say it. 

single mum

That’s not to say that single motherhood isn’t without difficulties.  My God it can be tough, but then motherhood, in fact parenthood, can be monumentally tough.  Let us not forget that!  The challenges that single parents face aren’t all due to their single status. 

These are my three biggest challenges as a single mum: 

Managing the guilt

As a single mother I feel guilty because I got it wrong.  I chose the wrong ‘life partner’.  I had a child with someone who wasn’t right for me.  My now ex only showed his true colours after Cygnet was born.  It was then that I realised that I couldn’t spend the rest of my life with him and still be myself. 

I feel guilty because my bad decision means that Cygnet will never get the opportunity to live in a happy family with his mother and his father living together as a unit.   This happy family environment was the childhood that I had and I feel guilty and a failure because I haven’t been able to give Cygnet the same. 

But I am learning to cope with this guilt.  I am proud of myself because I had the courage to take the decision to get out.  I also know that I am a better parent to Cygnet because I became a single mum.  I know that he has an authentic mother, a mother who is being herself and I believe that role models have to be authentic. 

Although I would never dare say this to Cygnet’s father, I also firmly believe that Cygnet has a better father because we have separated.  Parenting was firmly the mother’s job when Cygnet’s father and I were together.  Now that we are separated Cygnet’s father actually spends quality time with his son.  They have bonded.  They have a relationship that they would never have had if we had stayed together. 

Coping with the single mum stereotype

The stereotype is tough and it was the stereotype of single motherhood that made my decision to leave my ex so tough in the first place.  The single mum stereotypes (on benefits, sex crazed husband stealers, failures, drab) are ubiquitous.   

I went for a drink with a friend of mine last week.  He insisted on buying my glass of wine because I am a “single mum on benefits”.  What?” I countered.  I work full time, I own my flat (with a large mortgage from Santander but nonetheless), I probably earn more than my friend.  I don’t qualify for benefits and it would be very wrong for me, in my situation, to receive them. 

I am not for a second saying that there is anything wrong with claiming benefits.  But I do firmly believe that benefits should be reserved for those who absolutely need them to keep their heads above water.  I am fortunate enough not to be in that category.

Not having someone to share the joyful moments with

Myleene hit the metaphorical nail on the head when she said that this was the toughest thing about being a single parent.  This is probably the toughest thing for me too and I think, as Cygnet does more and more exciting things, this will only get tougher. 

There are only so many times I can send photos of Cygnet trying to climb into the bath, pointing at a digger, sticking his tongue out in a selfie, running round my flat like a lunatic before my younger brother decides to remove himself from my (very supportive) family whatsapp group. 

Mothers and fathers who are together can sit down on the sofa together at the end of the day with a glass of wine and share the details of what their children did that day.  They can have a giggle and they can share in the joy. 

Evenings spent on the sofa alone, with two glasses of wine, watching again and again the videos on my i-phone of Cygnet walking out of the baby disco because he hated the Dirty Dancing number are not quite the same.

So Myleene, thank you for trying to bust some stereotypes of single motherhood.  Thank you for sharing your biggest single mum challenges and thank you for allowing me to admit, in public, that I am proud to be a single mum.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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36 Comments

  1. June 5, 2016 / 7:09 am

    A lovely post to read and I found myself nodding at every one of your points, they’re exactly how I feel. Often question how I got it wrong picking the wrong person. X
    Mum-Work-Repeat recently posted…Club Hub UK – How did Tessa do it?My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 5, 2016 / 1:05 pm

      THank you. I am glad I am not the only one who spends hours wondering how on earth they got it so wrong. thanks for your comment. Pen x

  2. June 5, 2016 / 9:32 am

    I loved reading this post. I haven’t seen the programme in question because I thought it was going to be about stereotypes aimed at those Daily Mail readers but it sounds like it isn’t so I am going to have to give it a read. I think mums will always feel guilty, no matter what. However, I do think that this stereotype of single mums being on benefits needs to stop! There is no traditional family unit nowadays and it doesn’t matter what the set-up as long as the child and parent/s are happy. You should be very proud to be a single mum!! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday
    Emma recently posted…Green People Sun Lotion ReviewMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 5, 2016 / 1:04 pm

      Thank you again Emma, I do indeed hope to be back on Sunday. Pen x

  3. June 5, 2016 / 3:45 pm

    I am proud to be a single mum too *fist bump*! I have run into the stereotype once or twice, but I find it laughable as the “single mum on benefits” thing is so far from the truth. To be honest, I cannot complain as pretty much everyone I know has been very supportive, my family in particular. Obviously I don’t have the guilt of wondering why I managed to pick the wrong person, but I think it’s more complex than that. A lot of people who are currently happily married, sadly won’t be forever. Things happen, people change, people divorce. Who’s to say that some people we know who are married won’t end up as single parents at some point, and who’s to say we will be single parents forever? Things are constantly changing, so the title of “single parent” is a fluid one.
    Min recently posted…Boys and their ToysMy Profile

      • thesingleswan
        June 6, 2016 / 9:25 pm

        Yep, I forget all of the time!

    • thesingleswan
      June 6, 2016 / 9:28 pm

      Hi Min,

      Yes, you are right, the title ‘single parent’ is a fluid one. I feel really sad when I think of the divorce stats (42% in the UK). This means that 4/10 of my happily married friends will probably end up getting a divorce. Separation is so immensely stressful. In many ways, I think that the single life is the easy life.

      Loads of love

      Pen x

  4. June 5, 2016 / 3:47 pm

    You should be proud it sounds like you are doing a fantastic job. And it takes monumental bravery to walk away from a bad relationship especially when you have a child. #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      June 6, 2016 / 9:25 pm

      thank you Sarah. Pen x

  5. June 7, 2016 / 12:22 am

    I know criticism about Mylee has been made but to be fair she worked dame hard to get where she is now. I respect for walking and be a single parent. It is a shame she looked at just single mums and beenfits angle bur it gives you scoop to discuss I suppose. However, I wounder are they targeting the funeral for a show. Who knows.
    With parenting per se I think what ever you situation you will always have the universal feelings of guilt, situation and personal effect on the child. It is so hard in this media driven society and sometimes makes me sad but on the flip side more support and understanding ad well. It is trying to get the balance which is always hard X #kcacols

    • thesingleswan
      June 7, 2016 / 10:19 pm

      Thanks! You are right. To be a parent means feeling guilty. I am not unique as a single parent. I know that. Pen x

  6. June 7, 2016 / 1:39 am

    I think attitudes of what a family should look like are changing and those of us not doing the mum/dad/2.5 kids things just need to keep rocking on, proving the naysayers wrong. Your kid has a happy family, it just looks different from the Hallmark cards. We all feel guilty about something as parents. You’re great- don’t forget it. X

    #fartglitter
    Mama, my kid doesn’t poop rainbows recently posted…The #FartGlitter Linky: Week Twenty EightMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 7, 2016 / 10:18 pm

      Thank you. That is very nice of you to say. pen x

  7. June 7, 2016 / 5:42 am

    What a beautiful and honest post. Thank you for sharing. And well done for having the strength to make the best decision for you and Cygnet. That takes so much courage. You are an amazing Mum and a beautiful writer. #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      June 7, 2016 / 10:17 pm

      Thank you. That’s a lovely comment. i really appreciate it. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      June 9, 2016 / 8:16 pm

      Thank you my love. Pen x

  8. June 8, 2016 / 8:13 pm

    I didn’t catch the documentary Pen but I just looked it up on ITVplayer and it would appear to have been re-branded “Myleene Klass: Single Mum”. I understand the guilt over having chosen the wrong life partner and hence scuppered your child’s chances at a ‘happy’ 2.4 child nuclear family unit but I haven’t yet met the stereotypes. I haven’t really had that feeling of missing someone to share the milestones with either – I guess my husband never really got all that excited about those things. I don’t really feel that bad about calling myself a single mum – maybe that will change but actually, it is nice to know that I will be able to look back one day and say I actually did the right thing by my children because so many people have told me that they wish their parents had broken up when they were growing up rather than staying together ‘for the sake of the children’. Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout this week X
    Sam recently posted…The Truth about… #78My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 9, 2016 / 8:16 pm

      Hi Sam,

      Yes, this is very true. I do often think that had I stayed with my ex I still wouldn’t have been able to share the milestones and the joy. Whilst we were together he seemed to think that parenthood was the mother’s domain. In fact, I would suggest he is a lot more involved that he would ever have been had we stayed together. I guess I just have this image of what a successful nuclear family looks like and that does involve sharing the joy. I left my ex because it was the kind of relationship where we would never had had this kind of partnership. thanks for your comment Sam. Pen x

  9. June 9, 2016 / 8:26 am

    I was a single mum for the first 4 years of Grace’s life and I can associate with each and every one of these feelings. I am eternally grateful that Ross came into our lives and I now have someone I can share her moments with. You are doing a wonderful thing and this is a great post #thetruthabout
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    • thesingleswan
      June 9, 2016 / 8:12 pm

      Thank you Victoria. I am glad that you now have Ross to share the joy with. Loads of love Pen x x

  10. June 9, 2016 / 7:36 pm

    This is a lovely read – you’re right, the stereotype needs to stop as families these days just aren’t the ‘traditional’ family as it was when my parents raised our family. I have a stepson and whilst it can be hard sometimes to juggle things, we often find my partner and I fall down in communication and suddenly realise his PE kit is at his mum’s house when we need it (!) – it’s our family and that’s all that matters. You should be so proud to be a single mum, I can tell just from your posts what a great mum you are. #KCACOLS
    Bridie By The Sea recently posted…Time For Your Own Room NowMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 9, 2016 / 8:11 pm

      Hi,

      Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate your support. Pen x

  11. June 9, 2016 / 8:37 pm

    I was going to write about this too. I have been a single mum for 7 years now and my god can it be lonely at time but also absolutely amazing. I’m not ashamed of it anymore because I am proud of how I am raising my daughter and how she fabulous she is (most of the time anyway lol ) #kcacols
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    • thesingleswan
      June 11, 2016 / 9:04 pm

      Hi Tracey,

      that’s great. Please do write your post and send me the link. I would love to read about your fabulous daughter. Pen x

  12. June 10, 2016 / 6:12 am

    I understand you would ideally have had a partner that would have been a great partner and father, but you shouldn’t feel guilty, you should feel such pride!! To get out of a bad relationship and live with safety and self respect is so much more important than staying with someone just because they are the parent to your child. You are teaching your child to be strong, to make the right decision even if it is the hard one. You are amazing and I think you are completely awesome! #mg
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    • thesingleswan
      June 11, 2016 / 9:03 pm

      Thank you Mac, as always, for your lovely comment. Pen x

  13. June 10, 2016 / 10:19 pm

    Single mums are my heroes. I was brought by one. My sister is one. Two parents aren’t needed, just good parents. I never quite understood what the big deal was. Life was much better after my dad left, and I never understood why my nice peaceful life was suddenly a bad thing. Still don’t sometimes. Also The Daily Mail is a cesspit of ignorance and idiocy. #kcacols
    bread recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – Birds In The ParkMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      June 11, 2016 / 9:00 pm

      The Daily Mail is a cesspit of ignorance and idiocy – this sounds like a great title for a blog post. I might give it a go. Thanks! Pen x

  14. June 11, 2016 / 7:43 pm

    This is a really lovely post – I think the thing that hit home for me is the lack of someone to share all the things that have happened during the day. I take my hat off to single mum’s – it must be really hard some days not to have some one else to hand the metaphorical parenting reins to just while you regroup for 20 minutes. You should be proud to stand up and say you are doing it on your own and doing a great job! #kcacols
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    • thesingleswan
      June 11, 2016 / 8:59 pm

      Thank you! This is a lovely comment and I really appreciate it. Pen x

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