In just a few short weeks, my daughter Abbey will turn one year old. I cannot believe his fast this year has gone by. This post is going to be slightly different. I’ll write more about her closer to the time. This past year has been something else. Raising a baby alone is something I’ve never had to do before. It’s been 12 months of ups and downs and a lot of learning more about myself as a person and a mother. There’s hurt to being in such a situation but there’s also a lot of happiness. I’m going to talk about what it’s like to raise a baby alone and things I’ve learned in my first year. This could be a long one, so grab yourself a drink…. and maybe some popcorn haha.
The hardest part of raising a child alone isn’t the being alone part. It’s the lack of self esteem I’ve created for myself. Assuming that everyone is judging. Assuming that people are watching you, waiting for you to fail. That’s probably been the hardest part for me. I don’t doubt myself as a mother (or I don’t think I do), but I created a paranoia and it eats at me every day. I honestly do feel like the world is watching me and thinking negatively about me. They are probably not, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. I have had a few people that have been less than kind about it all. I’ve had a few judgmental and nasty comments off people. I’ve been called a slut, I’ve been told I shouldn’t be allowed to have kids. I had someone tell me I should put my baby up for adoption because I’ll never find another relationship again now I have three kids. These comments were from bitter people who gladly are no longer in my life. I’ve even had so called best friends not congratulate me when I was pregnant or ask about the baby when she was born. It’s a passive aggressive way of saying they don’t approve but who the hell are they to judge?
The second hardest thing about raising a child alone is having nobody who can relate to me. I have friends. But the majority of them are single with no kids or married. I have a couple of single mum friends but they aren’t raising a baby alone. There’s nobody to talk to about just how hard things can get emotionally. My assumption is, that people think you’re just complaining or playing the victim, but you don’t feel like a victim. You don’t want to play the victim. All you want to do is have someone understand whats going on in your head and to understand how hard you work. It’s not like we need attention all the time, but it’s nice to have someone in a similar situation to talk to. I recently started talking to a friend going through similar things and it’s been good for me.
The third hardest thing is lacking the ability to understand that this isn’t my story. It’s a time in my life where things have got a little tricky, but it isn’t my story. I want to stop branding myself as the single mum.
The final hardest thing about parenting alone is knowing your child is going to grow up without a father. It sucks. Growing up, I adored my dad and I feel sad that Abbey will have a different life, but it’s only year one. Things could get better. Either way, I am doing a good enough job as a mother and a father and she will grow up to be very happy. I’ll make sure of it.
Of course there are other downsides to not co parenting. You have no freedom. You have to miss out on things you would have done before. IT’S EXPENSIVE AS HELL and you don’t get the proper break you wish you could have. But these to me aren’t as important. I’m happy to be around my baby all the time. I’m happy to have less freedom. My freedom is the time my mum babysits for me so I can go see my horses. My freedom is when I get to go for a run. I’m happy and I made peace with the fact that I can’t do everything I want to (right now). Not to say it wasn’t hard at first, but you adjust. Other people have it a lot harder than I do, so I try to appreciate that. I am happy. I love my baby. I miss her when I’m not with her. The only thing I do look forward to is the opportunity to go on holiday alone but that won’t come for a while and I just have to accept it. Nobody died.
I think the most annoying thing for me over the past year is seeing how much I’ve grown from the whole experience, yet watching Abbey’s father not grow up. Excuses why he can’t help. Excuses why he can’t visit his kids. Excuses why he abandoned his other child. In parenting there are no excuses. You’re either there or you’re not. Simple as. You do everything you can for your child even if it’s working two jobs to at least contribute financially but you don’t get that. They get to enjoy their freedom and their money and you’re stuck paying for everything.
The deadbeat will always blame the mother, but the truth is, if you really want to be in someone’s life, you’ll do everything you can. I never got that despite my failed efforts to allow that person to try, so I closed the option off and decided to go it alone. Maybe other people will allow someone to walk in and out of their child’s life but I won’t. You’re either there or you’re not. It get’s really frustrating at times like when you get no sleep and you’re totally knackered or you’re struggling financially. You want to punish the other person because you’re so pissed off that they think it’s okay to be a deadbeat while you’re doing everything. I wanted to. But I realised that I’m better off focusing on doing my best for my daughter and not giving attention to people who don’t deserve a second of it.
Having to sacrifice your work life for a bit is annoying too. In America, daycare and babysitters are SO expensive. So for me, I haven’t seen the point in spending all that money because an entire wage would go to it. My friend told me she spent $10,000 on daycare expenses for just one child last year. So, you do the maths. Isn’t worth it. I do some commission work from home, but for my lifestyle I need to be doing more. It’s frustrating knowing I should be out working but I’m not. A lot of mums stay at home but they have a husband to help them. I don’t. Now I’m not complaining, but it’s definitely a struggle.
The final annoying thing about raising a child alone is when you complain because you want to vent and people say “Well you chose to have another kid”. I guarantee those kind of people will end up in their own situations one day and I can only hope they learn their lesson. It’s mostly people who don’t have kids, who have no idea what it’s like to have an unplanned pregnancy but I know they’ll get their lesson one day.
I’m not going to lie. Raising a baby isn’t ALL hard. You learn to appreciate yourself a little more. I could have let this hard time affect my parenting, but it only helped it. I adore my little girl. She’s literally the most amazing human I’ve ever met (as well as my other two haha). I adore her and there’s not one day I regret her. Whatever shit went on in the past, I can see through it because I have a wonderful baby who makes me feel whole. She’s the most perfect addition to my little family and yes things are hard from time to time but it’s SO worth it! To know that we have such an amazing bond. To know how obsessed with me she is and see her face light up when I walk in the room, it’s just the best.
Another great thing is when people recognise how hard you work as a single mum and give you a compliment. I’d much rather someone compliment my parenting skills than my looks. It makes me feel emotional and proud. I love it. Whether we say we doubt ourselves or not, there’s still that nagging voice in our heads telling us that we are doing something wrong or aren’t being our best. It goes away for a few minutes when someone tells me I’m a good mum.
The best thing is never having to miss her properly because she’s always with me. I coparent with my ex husband who is the father of my other two. And when they go to his, I miss them terribly. As hard as it can be always having the responsibility of a baby, it’s a privilege and I love always having her with me.
I’ve learned to appreciate myself more. I’m slowly learning that although I have low self esteem, that I am a good mother and I have so much love for my children. I would die if I didn’t have them around. Having Abbey has taught me to appreciate motherhood more and when I want to rant, I rant but then I think about how grateful I am to have her in my life.
I’ve also learned that if I can handle three kids, then I can handle just about anything else. Nothing scares me now. I have gone from a nervous new mum of 3, who doesn’t want to leave the house with all the kids, to just getting shit done. Throw their stuff together, throw them in the car and just get on with the day. You have to tackle things head on or else you’re just not going to get anything done.
I’ve learned that excuses are for losers. After seeing some of the BS excuses I’ve been given this year, I now laugh at them and roll my eyes. I’ve also learned that you cannot force people to grow up and accept responsibility for their actions and if they can’t do it themselves then you have to cut them out of your life and focus on your own life.
Final lesson is that I’ve grown as a person. I may not have my shit completely together yet because of the whole single mum struggle, but I’m not in that single mother mindset like I was at the beginning of this journey. I have goals, I have passion and most of all, I’ve learned how to be happy through all this. I’ve learned how to drag myself out of dark places and having this mindset, I think really helped me to avoid postnatal depression the third time round. This, I will save for another post though.
Overall, it’s been a crazy year. I’m sure I’ve got much more to say. I’m sure I have more emotions to write down. I’m sure I have more complaints and more things that I appreciate. But this is how it is. You forget things, you’re up, you’re down, you’re all over the place. It’s a scary journey at first but you get used to it and you start to find yourself again. I’ve only just recently started to feel better about myself I already feel really good. Of course I’ll have my moments, we all do.
Most of my blogger friends and readers are either younger than me or older than me. Not many in my situation, but if you ever need to talk about your struggles as a single mum, then please reach out to me. I’ve got your back!
As for me, from now on I’m going to stop referring to it as “My situation”. This is my life. I have three wonderful humans who make my entire life. I have survived my first year of parenting alone and I know if I can survive this, I can continue to for many years. I’m proud of myself and I have nothing but love for those little buggers.
Thank you to my lovely mum for standing by me this year. Thank you for babysitting whenever you can to let me escape to see my horses or have go for a run. Those times keep me sane. Thank you for everything else you do too. You didn’t sign up for this but you’re amazing and I love you.
On to the next chapter.
Thank you for reading 🙂