Our column opens up the life of a single mum – juggling life, love, work and of course kids on her own.
Sal Higgins is an author and journalist and mum to five kids, ranging in age from 19 to two, and is now raising them on her own. Her estranged husband has the usual alternate weekend arrangement, which means most of it’s down to her. She lives just outside London with her kids and their dog, Jamjar.
Here, she tells of her new life, the ups ands downs, the laughs and tears and the search for a new love – which, of course, will be her children’s new dad.
The antics of my ex husband towards me and our children is bordering on insanity. He continues to be non-communicative on parental issues; taking no interest in homework or projects the kids have, despite his own academic background. It appears that his ‘raison d’etre’ is to be surly and obtuse to us all.
I think he is regretting his big decision. The one to leave us. The one where he gets to live the life of a single man again. Don’t get me wrong, I think he is enjoying his freedom – unshackled from the constraints to feeding time, reading, bath and bed. But I don’t think the bigger picture is one he likes very much.
But for me, it couldn’t be more different. I am finally coming back to myself. You know that place you used to be when you were younger and still figuring it all out – and then life happens; the life you want of course. The love, the romance, the kids, the family. Well I have that and more.
And while I have all the family bits with the kids, and the love in our little circle of happiness – I am on a romance with myself.
No really. You are probably shaking your head and thinking I have finally lost it. But no. I am getting to know me all over again. We get so lost in all the day-to-day chaos of family life, we forget that at the core of it – is ourselves. We hurtle on the hamsters’ wheels like little rodents – and at the end of our long days, we just crave sleep – and then wake to begin it all over again.
But not being in a relationship with a partner is a great time to get to know yourself. And what I want. You know I was so busy looking after everyone else’s needs, I forgot about mine.
It’s one of the things that struck me when I looked at my mother’s lifeless beautiful body when she died. I was with her when she gently puffed out her last soft breath – and I couldn’t believe it was over for her.
She was no longer able to look up and smile at me. I will never get to squeeze her hand or wrap her in an embrace. Or talk to her. Nothing. Ever. Again.
And when I asked my husband to give me some space just two weeks later – because he was continually grumpy with me; and I didn’t know why, I realised that I needed to be in that moment, to be the person, who has just lost a mum and a life-long friend.
I just needed not have to be the centre most important cog in the family wheel… just for a moment.
And yes, he took that as the cue he needed to leave us and pursue his life as a single man with many clandestine lovers. It was a shock. A bitter tasting short, sharp, shot of reality.
But now I realise that in some way, it was the beginning of my journey to find ‘me’ again. I couldn’t be me with so little support, affection and care from a partner who was supposed to love me.
I realised that as painful as it was at the time, I was being guided to a better way. A better life. A freedom of life.
And that’s what I’ve found. Don’t ever be too afraid to say what you need. And if the person you thought should be there for you isn’t; then they never were and they never will be.
What is it my father now says? You haven’t lost anyone you are better off without.
And for all those mums out there who are not getting support or love but are frightened of going it alone; don’t worry too much about the children.
You get the chance to be the person you always wanted to be – and they can only benefit from that.