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.
My youngest son has taken to standing in front of the door whenever I go to get something out of the car or a coat from the porch.
“Don’t leave too mummy,” he tells me. He’s only four. it’s breaking my heart. I fold him into me at the front door and explain that mummy never will leave. I am here for good. I am staying put. Mummies don’t ever leave.
And that’s something that I think is quite forgotten at times.
Single mums are the ones who stay…
Who hold their children in their arms at night and tell them, ‘It’s going to be OK,’ even as tears fall down their own cheeks.
Who keep paying the bills. Who nurse their brood in the wee small hours and still get up early to do the school run.
Who have the strength to keep on going alone.
Yes, we stay. To face whatever is to come.
Yet, single mums can be stigmatised. I did it myself, now that I think about it. When you’re in a cosy marriage and enjoying an easy family life, you don’t really take on board people who are doing it on their own.
There is a vague sympathy that it must be hard/lonely/fractured… but you don’t really look beyond it. You somehow think that there must have been something wrong in the relationship for a long time. Or that these people shouldn’t have been together in the first place. Or that maybe they didn’t have the staying power. Or whatever.
Many of my married friends, whether they are happy or not, don’t seem to be able to empathise in any way.
But this is where your ‘old soul’ friends come in. Ones who have their own battle scars but have survived the worst and made the best of it. Ones who don’t need to be flippant or superior because they know that we all get crap thrown at us at some point in our lives.
One such friend tells me that when bad things happen, you can either let it destroy you, define you or strengthen you.
I choose to let this strengthen me.
And with that; I’ve decided to get some help. My mother left me some money and so I am going to use that to employ an au-pair to help with the house and kids, so I can go back to work as my errant husband is refusing to support us.
While I know my mum would wish I could spend the money on other things, she was always very practical and I know she will approve.
God I miss her.