?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????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.

I kissed it and threw it away… my wedding ring, that is.

I came across it in one of my drawers and sat down on what was the marital bed and looked at it for a long time. A tear dropped down my cheek as I read the engraving.. we had got matching ones. Mine fitted into his… which, at the time, seemed like perfect synergy. A sign that our life would be happy together.

I took my marriage seriously, so when my husband decided to have an affair and leave me and our five kids, with not much money, it was not only a shock but it shook my whole belief system. You marry someone for life, I thought. Don’t you?

My parents were together for 55 years, his parents are still together. Siblings on both sides have marriages intact… I just expected ours to last. We had our ups and downs, but no marriage is all ‘x’s and ‘o’s for ever. You tend to swap the initial ‘sex and flirt’ part for the deeper ‘love and support’ part – with some lusty, romantic moments thrown in.

Small children, not much sleep, work deadlines, and the usual household stuff takes up the rest. But isn’t that what we sign up for? We want kids, so we realise very quickly that life is not our own any more. We give a big part of ourselves up to other little people – who depend on us.

And many of my friends’ husbands have told me that no matter how unhappy they were – they would never leave their kids. Let alone not support them financially. Parenting is the most important job in the world. Taking marriage and vows seriously is part of that.

But not for everyone, it seems.

In fact one of my husband’s parting words were – “Just because you’re married, doesn’t mean you have to stick to it?” Ah, really. Why tie the knot then and have a big family? For the party? Really.

So although the little circle of weaved white gold that I held in my palm represented a life-time of love and security and family happiness, it had not meant the same to the man I married. A passing badge of togetherness until it all got too mundane and hard work so he looked for clandestine excitement elsewhere; still wearing his ring, I may add.

So I took my ring to throw it away – as that life was over. The marriage, the love and the promise was gone. I stood in a large field and just as I threw it away, I kissed it goodbye. A reflux. I hadn’t meant to. It made me smile.

I feel it was a wonderful catharsis… it’s gone. And now the real circle in my life is my brood – and they complete me. I feel so incredibly light and unburdened just by this one act… funny how we hold onto things without realising it.