I thought I would begin getting down to the nitty gritty of this blogging lark by addressing the elephant in the room.
Yes. I am a single mum.
Not estranged, divorced, separated, abandoned, widowed or indeed a carrier of any traumatic baggage at all. I’m a single woman who just so happens to have popped out a baby in the not so distant past.
I don’t view my singledom as a suit of armour or a badge of honour, I neither wield it like a weapon or hide it at the back of the closet and hope it goes away. It’s not something I deem ‘fixable’ or am in any hurry to change.
It’s just a fact of life. Like the basic biology that dictated I would be gluten intolerant or the laws of physics that scuppered my childhood dreams of levitation.
It’s not, perhaps, an exact science but one which works – until it at some point in the future it doesn’t. In which case we’ll have a hurried little meeting, give the fundamentals a bit of a rejig and carry on as normal.
I’m not going to lie and say that single motherhood has all been bra-burning emancipation or mono-familial bliss, sunshine and kittens but I have, in the almost two years my son has been alive, come up against more difficulties stemming from people’s opinion of me raising a child alone than I have from the experience of actually raising a child alone.
‘Shit my kids do/I could do better/that I totally thought wasn’t going to go down like that’ issues are universal – from the moment that little bundle of smooshed Winston Churchill is placed in your arms all control is handed over and you find yourself at the mercy of providence and in exactly the same boat as every other parent. Ever.
Nobody has yet called into question the validity of me being a mother. When I’m out and about with a buggy I don’t get asked ‘Oh, is that your little brother?’ If I take Frank to meet friends or out for lunch with his Grandmother it is never assumed I’m merely babysitting for somebody else at the table. I have not once been stopped and accused of baby snatching.
People may think that, heck they may even whisper it to their buddies but nobody will ever express it to my face. It’s just being polite, after all.
So if my position as Frank’s Mooma isn’t up for open debate then why is my relationship status? Furthermore why are the two things so often seen to be correlated?
(I could, if I fancied, turn this into a politically charged uber-rant about my experiences as Tory Britain’s social residuum but that’s a whole other post and really I’m not particularly annoyed…just baffled).
If Frank is clothed, housed, fed and happy then what does the current occupation (or non-occupation as the case my be) of my lady junk have to do with anything – especially my parenting abilities? Is there some kind of vagina to brain nerve I was previously unaware of that governs your capacity to not suck at raising kids?
If at some point down the line I do get a boyfriend, which would be lovely, I’m not looking for somebody to be a father to my little boy. This poor chap is not going to be burdened with the weight of ‘mending’ my public image or rubber stamping my right to raise a child in the eyes of a stranger on the street.
I’m young and still very much invested in relationships as one of those things where – in exchange for your time – you get somebody to hold your hand, say you look pretty and buy you stuff.
This is the long and short of the matter.
I am a single mother. I could have a whole harem of half naked Chippendales in my closet and I would still be a single mother. I could walk out of the house today, bump into ‘the one and only’ and elope to Vegas and still be…you get the point.
Neither term is in any remote way all that defines me but just the same, together they are an important part of who I am. If you can dig that then we’ll get along famously.