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.
A friend of mine’s pals have just separated and are getting divorced. She loves them both. And doesn’t know what to do. She’ll eventually pick a side… in fact I told her she had to.
As a marriage unravels, those involved become exposed; everyone feels it. And it leaves many feeling vulnerable. It’s a time when real friends show themselves. I have found that the people in the original family/friend circle fall into three categories:
- The ones who will almost revel in the sadness, while pretending to be concerned;
- The ones who watch from a distance;
- The ones who genuinely share your pain and tears.
The unspoken rule tends to be that whoever was friends with you first, stays with you, regardless of how they feel about your ex-partner.
Most families tend to choose their child/sibling – the ‘blood thicker than water’ adage is completely true. Then they become embroiled with the person they have chosen; and see the split from that person’s point of view. Even if the person they choose isn’t the ‘wronged’ party, the family tie bond holds strong.
Most people don’t have the capacity to see both sides. I can’t make up my mind if that’s just human nature or just a big get-out clause It’s only a rare few who can remain impartial and offer support and friendship to both. But ironically, I think these people have to be less involved in the first place. It’s a pity actually, because if more people could do that, I think more single parents would benefit from getting different viewpoints.
Too many times, parents end up going to war without trying to look at it from the other parent’s point of view.
For me – well my husband left after having an affair. And while I should be angry with him for letting us all down and buckling under the pressure of a large family, I just amn’t. I realise he had his limitations. And couldn’t see beyond that. And while the life he has chosen is not for me, it is for him. I can see he has changed from family man to single man – and so his perceptions of life are different to mine. While I can’t understand this, I can accept he sees things differently.
If you’ve not been involved in a split, it’s difficult to imagine how it feels. But not impossible. Everyone can learn and help when it comes to families in crisis. So I say to those out there who know someone going through divorce – which category do you fall into? And to think that they could really help if they choose to be in ‘category three’. There’s always a choice. Pick a side and be in ‘category three’ – truly.
If more people chose to really help and care, more families would benefit.
What makes most of us in the SPC (that’s Single Parent Club) wiser and stronger is that we will always fall into ‘category three’ because, well because we have been there… and are able to see things in a different light. That’s a light that will guide us through the rest of our lives. And that light is a blessing.