The time is seven o’clock in the morning. I rise from my grave, fangs out, covered in hair and howl at the rising sun.
Or so, that’s what people assume I do. I am a mother – but whisper this – I am a single mother. The terrifying and rare specimen that stalks men, pines for commitment, substitute fathers and bids on wedding dresses on Ebay, just in case. We watch Love, Rosie. and cry because she had a baby and despite that still managed to find a man that loves her. We despise smug married couples; we cheer when celebrities get divorced and Bridget Jones is our leader. At least, that’s how society sees us.
In actual fact, I think single mothers are the strongest people to walk the Earth. My best friend Aisling who is happily married and has a beautiful two-year-old, regularly tells me that she doesn’t know how I coped for the first three years. My university friend and fellow single mother, Mel, is spread so thin that she constantly berates her efforts at mothering, working and studying, yet she still gets up every morning and gets on with it. I used to live in a block of flats and my neighbour Becky, another single mother, raised her son Jacob whilst battling a degenerative bone disorder which often left her house bound – despite this, Jacob still had the best of childhoods and Becky would use a mobility scooter to make sure he got to go to the park.
But, I digress. This article is actually about dating as a single mother. The big D. I’m quite lucky in a way, because myself and my son’s father broke up whilst I was pregnant, so thankfully, there was never a big messy situation into which my son got dragged into and had to see his parents fight and ultimately break up. I’m not saying myself and James never argue, but if we do, it’s about where in God’s name have Harry’s school shoes gone over the weekend and it’s only ever done via WhatsApp.
Dating as a single mother is interesting to say the least. The first relationship I had after I had Harry was with a man who also had a son. Great, I thought, same sort of situation, he’ll understand that to me, my son comes first. However, at the time I was selfish in the way that I neglected to realise to him, his son comes first, so when his ex-partner eventually kicked off, he chose to end things with me to concentrate on building a relationship with her and his son. That was my first curve ball; single parents dating single parents means two sets of priorities, two sets of complicated previous relationships and often, too much to take on if your heart isn’t in it.
After the decline of that relationship, I turned to online dating. Even typing it now, I feel queasy. At the time, I was twenty-one. If I hadn’t been a young parent at that time, there’s a large possibility that I would have been out every weekend, partying with the best of them and waking up on a Sunday filled with regret and throwing back a few dozen paracetamol to quell the after effects of tequila. Trying to find a man in his early twenties that wanted to date a single mother was like trying to find a needle in a haystack and I’m so sorry for the cliché. But it was honestly, hell on earth.
If I put on my profile, that I was a mother, I’d get absolutely no response. I highly suspect that if I’d posted a topless photo, I’d still have got nothing because god forbid I should be a successful, working, studying, funny (apologies for blowing my own trumpet), mother. So instead, I went a different direction and neglected to mention the existence of my darling child on any profile whatsoever. Would you believe it, I started to get actual communication from actual men? I even got asked out a few times.
So,I started to go on dates. We would have a lovely time and at some point during the evening, my date would ask what I liked to do, or where I worked, or how I spent my free time. My answer would often be the same, “I’m a charity officer for a local supermarket and during my spare time, I have a son, so we go out a lot.” My date’s eyes would widen; they would begin to shake and all the colour would drain from their face. No, not really, but reaction wise, I have yet to meet a man who was genuinely interested and positive about the fact that I’m a mother first and foremost. Eventually, I gave up on online dating. It’s draining for the soul and the dick pics take up too much memory on my phone.
It took three years for me to realise that the problem was not me and my title as a mother. The problem is the common perception of single mothers in society. When we’re teenagers, we’re constantly warned not to have children early on because it will be the end of our lives and our ambitions. Having children will only limit us, we’ll be forever broke and have absolutely no social life. No wonder men go running for the hills.
My son is now four and I am twenty-four. Harry just started school and is a very intelligent and conscientious child. We live in a lovely house, for which I pay all the bills. Myself, I am a first-year Psychology undergraduate, work as a health care assistant, run my household, read a story to Harry every night and I still have time to put makeup on and have a pint of wine with Aisling every so often. Being a single mother doesn’t mean that you’re limited in anyway, in fact, it pushes you to be better, to strive for more and work your arse off to be that role model your child needs. And you don’t need a partner to succeed in all of this.
This is what we should be teaching the next generations; the phrase single parent, is not a taboo. Single mothers aren’t after your money, an engagement ring or a father figure for their children. In fact, there’s a high possibility we’ve got our shit together better than you have. Yes, it’s hard graft and yes, sometimes I do consider buying a person shaped pillow just so that I have something to spoon, but would I change what I have now for what I might have had if I hadn’t fallen pregnant at such a young age? Not on your nelly. Having Harry has pushed me to be the best person I can be, the best parent I can be and I hold faith in the fact that one day I will find someone who will appreciate all that I have worked for, all that I have and more importantly, appreciate the love that I have for my son.
A Guest Blog Post from Daisy Kirkwood
Daisy Kirkwood, otherwise known as MumWorkStudyWine, lives in the Cotswolds with her son Harry and two pain-in-the-arse cats. Daisy can often be found perusing Psychology text books with a vacant look on her face, enjoys staring at topless pictures of Gerard Butler and has a fondness for a decent bottle of red. You can check out Daisy’s blog at www.facebook.com/mumworkstudywine or follow her on Snapchat at DaisyKirkwood.