Rachel & Jack

Rachel (24) gave birth to her son Jack and five months later, her partner left the family home.

Rachel (24) gave birth to her son Jack and five months later, her partner left the family home.

I guess I had hoped that the father of my child would miraculously come back and we’d be a family again. It’s only now three years later that I realise we are actually okay – just the two of us.
To be honest I struggled at first. My birth wasn’t straight forward. I had hoped to give birth naturally, as my sisters and mother all had. But I needed an emergency Caesarean and it knocked my confidence. My recovery was scattered. Here I was trying to be a mom and I was so overcome with this sense of failure. I got depressed – maybe it was postnatal depression but it was never diagnosed. Instead I went through the motions of looking after Jack. Looking back it was like I was somewhere else. I don’t remember much. Maybe I blocked it. Or maybe it was that I was using all my energy to care for Jack. I just remember being constantly overwhelmed. When my partner left it was both a shock and a relief. He was always uneasy about commitment and I guess I had hoped that a baby would bring us together. I am almost embarrassed to say that now but after my initial grief I realised that it was all up to me. Jack’s father was still contributing money so I didn’t have to work.
And somehow I pulled through. I had family to help me. My mother was incredible. So supportive. On many nights I slept over at her house. I knew I was becoming dependent on her but I needed it at the time.

It was all so consuming, I needed to be able to go out now and then to do things that allowed me to feel normal. Even just a walk in the park or to the shops. And my mother was there to help me. I ended up moving in for six months before moving to a smaller apartment for just Jack and I.

I guess I was such a cocktail of emotions. Confused, angry, sad, but happy too and sooooo in love with my son. I didn’t want my emotional fragility to be passed on to my son. That was my paranoia. And that’s what I believed turned me around. My determination to at least be normal enough to give to my son. Once we moved into the new place, I felt I had been given a fresh start.
I don’t feel like a single parent because I have had my family around. But I guess I do fall into that category and our world is structured towards two-parent lives. You’ve just got to rise above all these antiquated pre-conceived ideas.

My mother looks after Jack so I can work mornings. I don’t know what people do without their loved ones close to them. I was lucky. In retrospect my relationship with Jack’s dad was never going to work. You kid yourself that maybe, just maybe, there would be a change of heart and it would all be perfect. But the further away I got from it all the more I realised the positive points of going it alone.
And there are great points. You have this incredible bond with your child. There’s nothing like it – nothing to describe it. As mixed up as I have been, I know I have come through as a much more capable, better person and mother. I don’t have the distraction of a mediocre relationship bringing me down. I’m a lot more philosophical too.

Jack’s father visits now and then and there is some sort of involvement. I hope its good for Jack. I am a little cautious but I have made myself a promise to be as positive as I can. I understand that it is their relationship and for me to prevent it or yell and scream obscenities would be fruitless. It’s about putting everything into little compartments and knowing what’s important in each compartment.
My interests are with Jack.

You realise that each and every family has its own unique chaos. Whether it be a one or two-parent family. And at the end of the day the most important thing is being able to give your child the platform he/she deserves to live, love and be happy. I’ve learned so much. And it’s only the beginning.

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