The perks of the job!

It's Friday which, for me, is not "cheers to the freakin' weekend" or "TGIF" because, you know, I'm a mum and unlike other jobs- it's a 24/7 thing.

However, Friday morning's just so happen to be my only toddler-free time as he's at nursery. So, naturally I am enjoying a caramel latte, alone time and peace and quiet (which is especially welcome today since my son was up at 3am this morning, marching around the flat whilst demanding a sandwich-WTF?)

Whilst sipping on my caramel latte (God,you never truly appreciate free time and life's little luxuries like coffee shops until you become a parent, that's for sure) I wanted to share this post with you, since I've had a few messages from you guys lately. A lot of these messages have come from women who are just entering into the world of single parenting and whom, like myself, are single from the very beginning; they are alone during pregnancy. Pregnancy is an emotional, stressful and daunting time and I would say, when it comes to the emotional side of single parenting, the pregnancy was the hardest part of my journey so far.

For me, it was hard for a number of reasons (I didn't have the greatest pregnancy- thanks to the devil that is "morning" sickness..) but what I found to be most testing at this time was the constant thinking about the 'unknown.' I'd had no prior experience of pregnancy,childbirth or motherhood whatsoever, I was a first time mum-to-be so, it would've been a frightening time regardless of circumstances, but it was made a hell of a lot more daunting by the fact that I was doing it alone.

It was definitely a testing nine months and I sure did lose sight of my excitement about becoming a parent and my reason to smile, a fair few times.

So, I totally get it. I get that at the moment it's all new and there's a huge fear of what's to come. I know that you will be asking yourself over and over again:

"Will I be able to cope alone with a baby?" 
"Have I made the right choice? "
"Will I be enough for my child?"
"Is it fair to bring this baby into the world without it's parents being together?"

And the answer is most definitely YES.

Let me share with you, my top five 'perks of the job.' The things which make being a single parent great; the things worth smiling about:

[Number 1] 

Parenting solo is so bloody peaceful. And by peaceful, I mean there's no conflicting opinions about "what's best" or competition over who does more around the house, there's no bickering over whose turn it is to feed the baby in the middle of the night. I did it and do it all myself and I just get on with it, without any feeling of resentment. I'm not stressing over the fact that my 'partner' is off on a night out with his mates for the hundredth time since the baby was born and I'm not irritated by the fact that he gets to sleep in on his days off. I have a "get up and go" attitude as a single parent because, well, there's not a lot of choice in the matter. But it's a great thing! I feel productive, I am happier and I am less stressed because of the chilled setup we have. Equally, there is nobody to tell me that what I am doing should be done differently, nobody to moan at me because I didn't empty the dishwasher or iron his shirt for work. In our home, the atmosphere is relaxed and calm and totally free of arguments.We do whatever the hell we want to do, when we want to do it, with whom we want to do it with. There is nobody else to consider and it's somewhat liberating. I also have a free pass to be selfish in the sense that I hog my son and it goes unnoticed because it's always just the two of us. However, even if I was supposed to be "sharing" him, I would probably still hog him. This way I just feel less guilty about it ;)

[Number 2] 

My bond with my child is particularly strong and, although of course I wouldn't have loved him any less if I had brought him into the world with a partner by my side, I do actually feel that our bond might not have been quite so special from the get go had it not just been the two of us. We have spent all the time in the world together because it's just us. I have done absolutely everything for him and as repayment I have been able to witness every single special moment and cherish them. I talk to my son, all day every day- if I didn't, we would live in a silent home. We chat and we laugh and we play without interruption. It is always 'one to one' time with us and through that, I have gotten to know him so well. As a matter of fact, I did see our bond lessen slightly when I entered into a new relationship with somebody soon after Etienne turned one. I felt our family dynamic change drastically and I'm not sure I liked it. A lot changed, my attention was suddenly divided. I gave a lot of my energy to the relationship and it's struggles and with that, my energy as a parent decreased. When the relationship ended, I found myself as a parent again and I remembered all of the things I had loved about raising my son by myself up until that point and I realised that honestly, I really do prefer things this way right now.

[Number 3]

I make the rules ( and if I want to break them, then I'll bloody well break them, too! Who's going to call me out on it?!)

I know that for lots of people, co-parenting is tough and it's extremely testing on both the individuals and their relationship with one another. I can't imagine having to compromise on absolutely every little thing when it comes to making choices about your child. What if your parenting styles are totally opposing to one another's? How do you combine two views and two sets of opinions? In this sense, lone parenting is actually simpler. Because it's just me, I decide what I feel is right for my son and that's what I go with. My parenting style is applied 100% of the time and it is consistent. Not only is this much more straight forward and less stressful for me, it is also great for my son because when it comes to children; consistency is key. He knows the boundaries and he knows they never change. He doesn't go off to his dads for the weekend and come home with an attitude because his dad let him get away with things I wouldn't have let him get away with. Both he and I are totally clear on the way our family runs and what is and isn't acceptable.

[Number 4]

 You are allowed to give yourself an extra huge pat on the back! Single parenting brings with it a huge sense of achievement and success. For the first time ever, I am genuinely proud of myself. I've never been one to feel particularly good about myself, I always wanted perfection and I did tend to put myself down a lot before becoming a mum. Now, I feel a sense of achievement and I know that I am capable because I am raising a child alone. It's far from easy but the challenge is motivating and it has given me a huge kick up the bum in life generally. Hard work really does pay off and in this case, it pays off when I see my son happy. When he's happy, I know that I am doing something right and that I am enough. Yes, there have been incredibly tough times but on the whole, I've never liked myself as much as I do now, nor have I ever seen myself so happy. This happiness within me has been recognised by friends and family also. I enjoy being a mother and I enjoy life with my son. When I am happy, my son is happy. When my son is happy, I am happy. It really is as simple as that. Life is straightforward and chilled out and nobody can walk through that front door at 6pm after a shit day at work, and put a downer on our great day. A great day is a great day. There is so much freedom which  I love and I am more than comfortable in my own company nowadays. I am confident that we work best as a team of two, every part of my mind body and soul tells me that. It is how we are meant to be, at least for now!

[Number 5]

Chances are, you'll better yourself along the way!

The word "lazy" is not part of a single parents vocabulary. Believe me, I was a lazy bugger before I gave birth. I'm the baby of my family (by ten years!) and I suppose I got some sort of luxury treatment since both of my sisters grew up and left home whilst I was still growing up. I got comfortable with other people doing things for me and I was far from proactive. I spent my teenage years procrastinating mostly (and drinking too much- of course.) Then I became a mum, alone, and suddenly there wasn't anyone else around to do it for me. Everything was down to me, from childbirth to baby shopping, nappy changes to booking appointments. I was suddenly responsible for absolutely everything. I couldn't kick my 'partner' awake in the middle of the night to feed the baby because,well.... I didn't have a partner to kick!

I didn't ponder over something like "should I feed him again or is it too soon?" and await someone else's opinion, because it was all down to me; my choices, my opinions and my judgement. This has been scary at times, and I have often turned to friends or family for their opinions on certain things but ultimately, it has all come down to my final say on things.
It is because of this, that I am no longer hesitant, I don't take a back seat and wait for someone else to lead the way, I have drive and I am not afraid to try new things or give things a go. I have gained heaps of confidence, I am self reliant and I "don't need no man" (except when I can't open jam jars or when there's a problem with the car, then yeah- I'm a bit stuck, but generally, I get by just fine.)

 I've managed to lug a buggy up and down a flight of stairs numerous times a day, often whilst juggling a child and a load of bags/ general baby luggage (why do they come with so much stuff??)
I've attempted (and mostly succeeded)  DIY at home, I've even endured a 5 hour long drive (which actually ended up being closer to 7 hours because of the lovely traffic) to Cornwall alone with a toddler in tow. There and back.

And I sit here and wonder, did I really do that? HOW?
Nope, not because I am super-woman, but because I just do it- and like me- you'll find you just do! Because if you didn't, nobody else would be there to do it for you!

Don't get me wrong, sometimes it gets on top of me, like when I have a meltdown over changing two sets of bed sheets (one of which is midget sized) because I get hot and bothered and well, I just hate it, really : serious new-found respect for chambermaids! How the hell do they do it?!

But above all else, I've discovered an incredible amount of personal strength; something I never knew I had. Trust me, you are stronger than you think.

Illustration by Charlotte Denny @ Life as a single mum.

Mum power- to the absolute max!

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