Cathy (29) talks about choosing to be a single parent. "I realised that the only real pressure on me was that pressure I had placed on myself. And once I recognised this, the stress subsided".
Cathy (29) talks about choosing to be a single parent.
"I realised that the only real pressure on me was that pressure I had placed on myself. And once I recognised this, the stress subsided".
I never imagined being a single parent. But when I became pregnant my desire to have a child and be a mother was stronger than I could have imagined. My child’s father was from abroad and had no intentions of staying in the country. I realised early on that whether or not I was going to have my baby had nothing to do with him or his plans. I was also at that stage in life where I had lived a varied life in my twenties and now wanted to give myself in a completely different way. Of course I was anxious,
worried whether I’d be a good enough mother when times got tough. But I made an agreement with myself that I could and would do my best to offer my child a great life.
I was under no illusions that it would be a doddle in the park. I had great family support but it was mostly by telephone. I lived in a different city.
My work was freelance, and therefore I felt it was suited to being a single parent. Idealistic I guess but nonetheless I chose to make it work. I refused to think otherwise.
My pregnancy went well. I chose a close friend and asked if she would like to be my birthing partner. Although she had worked with babies and children she had none of her own. So it was a new path for both of us.
Together we went to antenatal classes and I made it my mission to find out about as many community support services and groups as I could. I knew that without a partner or close family I would have to create a network. As it turned out, I was so busy with work and creating my home environment that I became pretty self-contained. I was always fairly independent – in fact too much so. I had to learn to accept offers of help and consent to the fact that I couldn’t manage everything alone. My friends were really wonderful.
The birth went well. I had an epidural. It was never something I feared. I was more concerned about managing at home during the first six months. My friends were amazing. And my little girl was a perfect baby. I breastfed for one month but due to work commitments I stopped earlier than I had planned. I beat myself up over it at the time. But then I realised that the only real pressure on me was that pressure I had placed on myself. And once I recognised this, the stress subsided. It was like someone had turned a dial.
I think the most difficult part for me was that my baby looked so much like her father. She was like this constant reminder, not so much of him, but of the choice I had made. And during those weakened moments when hormones ran riot I did question myself as to whether I’d made the right decision – and whether or not I had a right to make the decision that my daughter would not grow up with her father. But somehow you reconcile this and you hope that the huge capacity you have within you to give love, unconditional love, would count for more than many children receive in a so-called normal family environment. Well, that was how I justified it. I grew up in a wonderful family environment and it was my aim to recreate this for my gorgeous daughter.
Luckily I had worked hard before my pregnancy and saved for a rainy day. I owned a home and I had a car. For the first nine months I employed a cleaner for a couple of hours a day two days a week. I felt my daughter and I deserved this.
It was nerve-wracking eventually looking for more permanent childcare but I knew that as a single parent I had to relinquish my role at times and trust other people to take car of Milly in my absence. This was hard. But essential for both our lives.
Milly is now two and a half. There is no one else in my life and I’m not looking for anyone as yet. With hindsight perhaps my ability to enjoy my own company in my earlier life helped set me up for single parenting.
I can’t deny that there haven’t been moments of complete exasperation and exhaustion but the joy I get from watching my little girl grow is unequalled by anything in this world.
All I can say to any single parents out there is hang in there and enjoy every moment.