Happy Single

It’s taken a long time and a lot of fails to come to this realisation, but maybe it’s something I always knew deep down – I’m happy single. Better off single.

I’ve always liked my own company, never one to seek out others. Relationships make me uncomfortable, yeah cuddles on the sofa are lovely, but having them about 24/7? Telling them everything? Compromise? Maybe I’ve just been single for too long and am too set in my ways, but whatever the reason I’m happy with the outcome.

This is not all to say that if Mr Right walked headfirst into me that I’d send him away again, but I’m not looking, definitely not settling and I shall live my life to the fullest and if I never meet someone I shall die knowing I enjoyed my life and made the right choice.

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Memories

I’m often coming up with things to keep and save to show to Jackson when he’s a bit older and when I mention them to people they tend to go ‘oh I hadn’t even thought of that’ so I thought I’d compile a list:

  • My pregnancy test! I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it away! The start of the journey.
  • The hat the hospital put him in – not that it stayed on for 5 mins, big head!
  • The sensors from the tests he had at the NICU that the nurse kindly gave to me.
  • His umbilical cord clip. I drew the line at the actual shrivelled cord and threw that out in disgust!
  • His first size nappy (unused!) even looking back now I cannot believe he was that small!
  • I wish I had managed to get a newspaper the day he was born but I only thought of this a week later and it was too late by then.
  • I saved the Argos catalogue from the season and year he was born (spring/summer 2014) so that when he is older he can look back at what was around when he was born, how old fashioned the people look, how low tech the toys are and LOOK at those phones, they’re huge!
  • His first size nappy (unused!) even looking back now I cannot believe he was that small!
  • His first shoes. Everyone does this right?
  • Any currency that disappears during his lifetime. I’m going to keep a purse filled with it, starting with the old paper £5 note. Otherwise when he’s a bit older he won’t believe that notes were once paper and we all hated the plastic replacements! And now I’m adding an old £1 coin, round and one colour? He will never believe it!

 

Have you kept anything else? I’d love to get more ideas, and I might add them to this list so please let me know!!

Fantasy

I lay, scrunched up, in the toddler bed. My arms wrapped around my infant, eyes tight shut, feeling them breathe, listening to ‘Bing’ playing on my phone. Through my closed eyelids I can almost see the pink, floral bedsheets over us, the mousey blonde hair trailed over the pillow, the Disney princesses staring down at us from the walls and the vividly pink curtains lit by the headlights of the passing cars. Yesterday’s dress thrown carelessly on the floor and a doll propped up on the bookcase. 

I lay there totally absorbed in the fantasy that I am there with my three year old little girl, that she’s just had a busy day at nursery and we are relaxing together waiting for her eyes to grow heavy and for her to fall asleep.

I don’t want to open my eyes, to shatter the illusion I’ve created, but I must. ‘Bing’ is finished and my son shouts ‘Mummy!’ demanding that I put on another. 

So I open my eyes and it takes a second to adjust to what I’m seeing, my two year old son, short brown hair, laying in his rainbow duvet staring expectantly at me completely unaware of the war going on in my head fighting to adjust back to reality. I put on another episode and hug him close staring around his rainbow room. 

My rainbow baby.

Hard

I’m not enjoying being a mum at the moment. And that’s horrible, and hard to say. Don’t get me wrong, after all I’ve been through I love and cherish him, I still watch him sleep and marvel that he’s here that he’s perfect and that he’s mine, but the actual task of parenting? Well that’s hard.

I’m barely away from him so every grumble, annoyance and irritance is magnified, I get that, but I can’t do right by him at the moment and it’s getting me down.

He learnt the word ‘no’ recently, and great as it is that his vocabulary is growing, this word has caused a number of problems. He uses it whatever he means. Even if he wants something he will say ‘no’, so you offer him something, he says ‘no’ and then will grab it off you, but if you bare that in mind and offer it again after he’s said no the ‘no’ becomes a ‘NO’ and he will scream at you…

He doesn’t go in his carseat. At all. We have had hour long tantrums over this on the drive outside. Neighbours coming out to see where the toddler was being murdered. But I’m not talking one offs (obviously some times are worse than others) but he will run off screaming as soon as he realises I want him in his carseat. It becomes a physical fight to get him strapped in, and as soon as he is his arms are wriggled out, I’m fighting a losing battle. Once he realises I want him in the car he will head off as if to walk instead, so I take him out for a walk, he doesn’t want to walk, he wants to be carried the whole way and if I try to make him walk the screaming ensues again, running after me down the street, hollering.

I’m pretty sure half my day consists of screaming.

Yesterday I got home from work and he wanted boob, I’m trying to stop him having it during the day, especially then, less than an hour before the roast my mum was cooking, he screamed for the hour. Solid. I hid in another room and he stopped. I ate my tea in another room and he ate his good as gold with my mum and dad. He sees me as a giant milk bottle, nothing more.

This morning he woke up at 6am and I stopped him helping himself to milk. He screamed for 2 hours almost solid, climbing over me, ripping at my clothes.

This has to be a phase. This HAS to be a phase and it really needs to be over quickly because I thought I was a strong person but doing EVERYTHING wrong in his eyes is breaking me.

Better Off Single?

I’m a strong independent woman.

Atleast that’s what I told myself repeatedly whilst I was in labour to stop myself panicking at the unimaginable pain and the absolute terror that I was about to become a single mum.

And for the most part I am! I can fend for myself, I earn my money, I pay my bills, I look after my son, but there’s that niggle in the back of my mind that I’m not good enough, that I’m not truly independent.

I guess that comes to the fore when I’m in a relationship, I’m fiercely independent, I’ll offer to pay, I’ll not let you do things for me and I’ll complain when you buy me things, but deep down I need constant reassurance that I’m enough.

And that’s part of why I both love and hate relationships. The companionship is great, having someone to share things with, but relying on someone for my happiness? I’m happy when I’m single, but put me in a relationship and I cave into a self doubting monster, and I know why, it’s because I’ve never been enough before; no one has stayed so why should this one? I’m a single mother with a flabby belly who’s idea of fun is watching crap tv with a glass of wine. What a catch. I guess a part of me thinks if I was going to meet someone it would have been before I gained a whole extra list of flaws apart from the obvious personality and bad sense of humour!

Maybe the answer for me is to stay single, to know that I am missing out on a whole other half of life, a life shared, but atleast I won’t have to rely on someone else to constantly reassure me.

A Cowards Breakup

I hoped to be writing here in a few months about how happiness is possible, about how men who are willing to take on a single mum and all her baggage do exist, about blended families and trips to the park. But no, once again I’m here, broken and alone wondering which of my many flaws drove this guy away.

Was it my saggy belly, my wonky tits, my sleep-adverse toddler, my bad choice in tv, my questionable sense of humour or just me. Maybe I just drove him away by being me. Who knows. He certainly won’t tell me since he basically won’t reply to anything. I’m guessing it’s his terrible way of breaking up with me painlessly. For him. For me it just makes me question everything. Did he ever even like me in the first place?! It’s perhaps the most painful way to break up with someone, with no reason. It’s happened to me twice in quick succession now and I can tell you my confidence has never been knocked more. If he told me it was because of my wonky tits I could laugh it off, tell my friends and call him shallow. But with no reason forthcoming I am forced to go over it in my own head, and we are our own harshest critics, this means every slight issue I can see with myself if magnified, brought under scrutiny and my confidence lays on the floor in tatters. Again.

It took a lot for me to date after having kids. My body isn’t what it was and emotionally I’m drained most of the time, not to mention the fact that my last serious relationship with my babies dad stole all my confidence in men being able to stick around.

But I did, it ended suddenly 2 months later with ‘we aren’t compatible’ and I tore myself apart, broke myself down to the very components of me trying to work out what I had done, which parts weren’t compatible. Months later I plucked up the courage to try again, but after 6 weeks of what I thought was going well, I’m suddenly ignored, reassured, then ignored again. So here I am again, picking away at the very fibres that make me, me wondering what it was this time that drove him away?

Maybe I’m not strong enough to date. I know it’ll take a while for me to even get back to me again, so maybe I should leave men alone and focus on me again, get back to happy me so I can be there for my son as best I can on my own. Some people are better on their own, maybe that’s me.

Dating Me

I read an article earlier about dating a single mum and while most of it rang true, some parts weren’t quite right for me so I thought I’d write my own.

I’m independent. Don’t assume that because I’m a single mum I am needy and desperate and looking for a daddy to complete my family and settle down with. Infact completely the opposite. I’m independent, I own my own house I pay my own bills and I look after me and my son, I don’t NEED anybody. I’m looking for a man to be my partner, to maybe take me out of my house on dates, to show me what I’ve missed in the last couple of years of parenthood, of play dates and nappies, to get to know me and like me and then and only then can he meet and get to know my son. If my son doesn’t like him, it’s out the door I’m afraid. It’s been the two of us before and it can be again, don’t think for one second you will ever be more important to me than him! 

I want someone who wants me. I’ve had bad relationships, well, one in particular, so I know how they go. I don’t want another one. I want someone who wants to talk to me, who wakes up in the morning and wants to text me, even just to say hi. I’m needed 24/7 by my son, it’s the thing I’ve missed most, being able to rely on someone to be there when I need them

Be reliable. Again, I’ve had my fill of ‘I’ll be there at such and such’ to turn up 2 hours later with a feeble excuse. If I’ve managed to get someone (probably my parents) to babysit for me then time is precious. I’ve made a decision to spend that time with you, the least you can do is turn up and spend it with me! 

Accept that I won’t be able to see you much. Time will have to be grabbed when it can be, and planned in advance, you won’t be meeting my son for months so I’ll have to get someone to look after him to see you. That means putting other people out and missing time with my son, both of which I hate doing, so you’d better be worth my effort.

Don’t waste my time. Time is precious and I’m not up for pointless dating any more. I don’t want to go out a few times for you to decide you don’t have time for this or can’t see a child in your future. I am looking for something special so if that’s definitely not you then please step aside so I can find someone it is.

Be honest with me. I don’t ask much, just if things aren’t going how you want or you don’t think you can deal with my son, for example, that’s fine, just tell me. If we can work on it we can try if not then we part ways, but atleast we will both know we tried everything we could and part ways on friendly terms rather than you getting cold feet about something and instead of talking it out, either going off and finding someone else, or ignoring me for days followed by a vague text that shakes my confidence and tortures me for months into wondering what I did. I’m too old and too tired for teenage games, I just want honesty, and I’ll return the favour, possibly too much. 

Accept my sons dad. I may not sing his praises, but he will be around and about us for the next 16 years (atleast). We are coparenting so he gets a say in all decisions, you don’t. Obviously you can express your opinions to me, but ultimately it’s down to me and his dad. 

Enjoy Us. Being a family is great, and if you accept all the above, we fall in love, my son accepts you, then that’s what we will be, a funny shaped, slightly kooky family, perfect for days at the beach, movie nights, theme park rides and holidays. 

Dating

I wrote recently about the possibilities of me starting to think about considering finding a partner, but how do you date as a single parent?

I don’t have an answer, I have no idea how to do it, but I would love to find a solution.

I posted before an ‘agreement‘ that I came up with and Jacksons dad agreed to, and though he hasn’t kept to his half of it, I still stand by it being best for Jackson. My mention of not introducing Jackson to new partners for 6 months until we are fairly sure it will last to stop people just walking in and out of his life is, in theory, the best for everyone, however I have no idea how this will work in practice!

Single dates are fine, I can arrange with my parents to have Jackson for an evening or two, but what about when you find someone you want to spend a bit more time with? I can’t rely on them, even use them to that extent, they have their own lives too, but Jackson doesn’t sleep through the evening or night in his own bed, so I can’t have anyone back here whilst Jackson’s here because he will just wake up and suddenly he will be introduced earlier than planned!

Does this mean that I cannot date until he’s 18? That I can only see people once a week, because I don’t know if that’s enough to know if a relationships strong enough to introduce them to him, and how can I know if a relationship is going to last until they have met Jackson?! I genuinely don’t know what the answer is!

Obviously once they have been introduced to Jackson things become easier and they become more a part of our daily life, with occasional dates needing babysitters, so do I relax the 6 month rule? Obviously making sure it is serious, but 6 months is a lot of dates to use my parents as babysitters for…

For that matter, at what point do I tell his dad that I am dating again? I was going with when it affects Jackson, ie. them meeting. We have been broken up for 2 years, so it’s not really anything to do with him except through Jackson, but I think he is harbouring a hope that we might be able to patch things up, a hope that I have kept myself, but it has been fading quickly as he has shown no interest in getting help for his issues.

I’ve never really dated anyway, but Jackson adds a whole new dimension to it, and the whole thing is really scary, I don’t want to get it wrong and have it affect him badly in any way, but at the same time I don’t want to be alone forever, or settle for second best!

Any advice will be gratefully received if you’ve been in a similar situation!

 

Learning

I’ve learnt a lot since I’ve had Jackson. I’ve learnt that mess is part and parcel with babies, I’ve learnt that sleep is underrated, I’ve learnt that time flies when you have a little one, but mainly I had learnt that he isn’t mine

No I don’t mean his dad has staked a claim on him.

I mean he isn’t mine to own, he isn’t my property, and honestly if anyone is anyone’s, then I am his. 

I am his mummy. 

But he also has a daddy, grandparents, uncles and aunties and lots of friends whom also belong to him! 

This child isn’t going to be a mini me, however much he looks like me. 

He is a blank canvas, but he’s slowly being filled in. Each minute he spends with someone he learns. Sometimes it’s a trick, sometimes it’s a skill, but he’s like a sponge, always learning.

This boy is not mine. We are all his, we are his parents, his teachers, his friends, and we will all leave a mark on him in one way or another. 

Single Mum

‘So how often does Jackson see his dad’ is a question that is asked regularly, not only by people just finding out about our situation, but people who have asked before hoping for a new answer. 

My stock answer now is ‘a few hours a week’ and you see their faces change from hopeful interest to confusion and almost disgust. 

I know that their initial thought is ‘why’ and they wonder if that’s my fault, if I’m making it difficult, or discouraging it. Think Jeremy Kyle, possessive mum blocking access, but it isn’t me. I always have and always will actively encourage his dad to come and see him and spend time with him, infact I have wasted days upon days sat waiting for him to show up when he says he will, and then doesn’t.

I used to answer ‘a couple of times a week’ which though at the time also true, probably never equated to many more hours, and when I thought about it, a few hours is probably a more accurate answer. He won’t turn up until 2 or 3 in the afternoon when he wakes up, leaving again at any time between 6-10 depending how tired he is, whether he has work and whether Jackson’s asleep or not. That’s a minimum of 3 hours, and a maximum of 8 or so. But equally some weeks pass without a visit at all. 

When I first broke up with his dad at 7 months pregnant I almost felt it would be easier if he left and never saw us again, but the second my baby boy was born my world changed and I knew he needed his dad in his life. From then I have tried to facilitate him visiting as much as possible, but the hours have steadily decreased and his interest wained. 

This kills me inside far more than I expected it to. He has me, loving grandparents, adoring uncles and some fantastic ‘aunties’ in my friends, but he needs a dad. This boy won’t miss out on love, heck I’m pretty sure if he was any more loved he would pop, but he won’t know the role a dad is meant to play in his life. I know that with us being separated that was always going to be a difficult relationship to build, but it’s nigh on impossible when his dad doesn’t seem to try. 

Jackson was a planned baby. After losing our little girl we waited months for the doctors to give us the go ahead to try again and when they finally did I was hesitant. I wrote at the time that I was worried I’d never love another baby as much as I loved her, of course that all changed as soon as I found out I was expecting again, but it was him who pushed for it, who persuaded me we were ready, only 2 weeks later when I took the test and told him I was pregnant, he was less keen. He says it just took him by surprise that it happened so quickly, but really he wasn’t ready. He still isn’t ready, still hasn’t got past the grief for our little girl who should be in our arms, can’t get past that to see the special little boy who is. 

I spend my life running through this in my head. Screaming internally that how can his dad not want to spend every waking hour with his son. How can I facilitate it so he might want to see him more, what more can I do? I literally feel like I’m bashing my head on a brick wall and getting nowhere. 

Jackson does need a dad. However you look at it, it’s a special bond that cannot be easily replicated. Maybe one day I’ll find a partner who loves Jackson as much as I do, who accepts him as his own and becomes a father figure to him, but will that be too late for Jackson to create a strong bond with him? I don’t know. I grew up in a 2 parent family and I planned the same for my son. It breaks my heart that he isn’t getting that stable, happy, easy start in life. 

Maybe his dad will read this post and come to his senses, get some help for his grief about losing our daughter and step up and be the father Jackson needs. But then again, it’s been 2 years of me telling him all of this and nothing has changed so far so I don’t hold my breath. 

As a mother trying to do my best for my son, nothing kills me more than seeing a situation arising that will hurt him and being able to do nothing to stop it.

  • An 'Angel Baby' is a baby lost during pregnancy or early childhood, who sleeps in the clouds instead of our arms.

    A 'Rainbow Baby' is a baby born following the loss of an 'Angel Baby', a beacon of hope after a storm, while not denying the storm happened.

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