Single Mum Hum
17 months have passed since I began the separation process and I still feel uneasy about waking to a dead quiet house on my kid-free weekend. There is still that echoing feeling of emptiness and a longing for all to be back to “normal.” Of course none of that makes logical sense given the situation, I know I am better off and I know that none of the reasons for separating have changed, however somewhere in my sub conscious there is this built-in connotation that my family is incomplete or perhaps that I am, one of the many haunting thought patterns that I face as a single mum. This is possibly a symptom of loneliness.
Keeping myself busy is obviously a great remedy and one that I practice regularly (almost unavoidable) but I know that regardless of how many friends I have around me or how much I have to do there are still small quiet moments when I go to turn to the person who has normally been beside me to aid in my endeavours and to share in the joy and tests of parenting with a total equal share only to remember that they are no longer there. I am not sure that there is a cure for this apart from time. I look at it a bit like having a limb removed, your nervous system takes time to adjust and for some time you can still feel like it’s there, the more time passes the more you adjust your thought patterns and coping strategies to react to the feelings. Therefore I am reasoning there may not be a cure but there are certainly ways to help develop these coping strategies and catalyse the process.
COUNSELLING – I have been going to counselling regularly since I separated from my partner. To begin with, just to be able to cope, but it has proven a most valuable resource. This is a major life changing event for me, and for my children it has helped immensely to have an expert voice in my corner. Someone who is professionally trained and experienced to help make sense of what I am feeling and why. A neutral person who can advise on strategies of explaining tough stuff to my kids, and allows me to recognise a healthy path forwards. This doesn’t have to be a huge expense, in fact by chatting to your GP in a lot of cases you can be referred to a psychologist almost free of charge for 12 months.
ACCEPTANCE – Accepting I am a single mum. Accepting that I might not like being put in that basket. Accepting that this will influence your children regardless of how hard you try for it not too. Accepting that there is no rule book for being a single parent. Accepting that you cannot be the single person you were before the “parent” bit but you can be you. Accepting that YOU CAN DO THIS. Accepting that it is hard work, but so is anything worthwhile.
AVOID OVERLOAD – Remembering the job I have to do as a single mum is a tough one. It is important to not take on too much and then continually feel like I am unable to do it. For my kids to be getting the best from me they need me to be calm, in control, and able to overcome problems. Not constantly tired, stressed and upset. It is very much like juggling, it is a lot easier to start with a few balls and add to it as it gets easier, instead of beginning with 50 balls and constantly dropping some.
SUPPORT – Having a strong network of friends and family for support is important for any parent, but especially if you are a single one. In my case I moved with my partner not too long before we separated, this has left my support network with a lot of gaps especially in regards to people who are physically close by. In fact currently the only person who I have to lean on who is close by is the person I separated from – NOT RECOMMENDED. So it is my goal at the moment to take more time building this and seeking out other avenues of support. One thing that I have learnt about this situation so far is that there are ways of finding help and support, but you do need to reach out and go looking. I look forward to reporting what I can find.
LOOKING AFTER MYSELF – I find that I am always so worried about looking after the kids and paying the bills that I don’t always look after myself. This really only comes back to bite me – I get sick, stressed and tired. So another major focus for me at the moment is to eat well, no more binging on comfort food cookies, cake, hot chips etc. Exercise more, this physically reduces or burns stress YAY!! I also know that personally I feel a million times better when I am a little fitter and I also have a lot more confidence. As they say ‘confidence is key’ and it is, especially for single mums.
Copyright 2012 Mummy Weekly
A busy single mum of two young children, MC flies between work and daycare trying to adjust emotionally into a feeling of completeness. Here she shares with Mummy Weekly some of her strategies on not only how to stay positive, but to try to move ahead… for herself and her children.