Our new 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 up 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.
‘We just don’t give ourselves credit for it. We get on with it because all our girlfriends are doing the same. So we don’t really doubt it. But when you think about it, how great would it be to have a wife?’
What’s most noticeable is that every time you run out of something, you can’t just nip out to the shops. Being a single parent means you have to become super organised. You have got to be a couple of steps ahead all the time. And if it’s unavoidable – like you’ve run out of milk or bread for the packed lunches, then you have to put everyone in the car and head to the local shop. So what would normally have taken 10 minutes, becomes an operation of at least half an hour. Grumpy children don’t want to be prised from their comfy sofa or their tablets. But needs must.
While I have a 19-year-old at uni, we had a break and I didn’t have our second for eight years – as I had landed a very lucrative post and was still climbing the career ladder. So the rest are 11, eight, five and two… yes he left me with a very young family. The thing is he has another child. He has a 25-year-old son from a previous relationship. He had told me he had been trapped when she got pregnant and of course, madly in love, I believed him.
Older and wiser now though, amn’t I?
The other thing I am finding is that although he isn’t here any more, I’m not actually doing much more than I did before. Funny isn’t it how women just accept all the household chores, the shopping, cooking, washing and all the childcare as well as bringing in a good portion of the money.
We just don’t give ourselves credit for it. We get on with it because all our girlfriends are doing the same. So we don’t really doubt it. But when you think about it, how great would it be to have a wife?”
Someone to take the kids to school. To get the shopping in and make hot food for you when you come home. Someone to do all the birthday shopping and organising or invitations and presents. Someone to keep things running smoothly so when you come home, all you have to do is eat and help with bath and bed…
oh and maybe you’ll get a roll around before you fall asleep. Think about it.
Yes, next time, I’m getting a wife – or an au pair. My best friend has told me it’s time to get some help. I think when she turned up and saw how tired and pale I looked, she decided to strong-arm me into getting some help. (Plus the woman who runs a multi-million pound company was washing my kitchen floor as she
poured me a glass of wine and made me my tea.)
“Is he any nicer to you,” she asked last week. No is the short answer. He’s taken to sitting in the driveway for 20 minutes with the children in the car when he picks them up. I really truly don’t know why.
‘I know you think you are doing ok, but you will eventually just keel over. No one can work and look after four kids on their own. I have found an agency for you.’