Here I am, with my beautiful daughters… both with big blue eyes, blonde beachy hair and taking the world in their stride.
But here it is, what so many automatically see… a big age gap. Here lie the assumptions of what that must mean and often, the question I get asked:
“Do they have the same dad?”
No, they don’t.
A few more assumptions…here are some of the other real life actual comments I’ve had during my parenting career so far:
Said. To. My. Face!
Single mum stigma… ‘you on benefits?’
Failed relationships… ‘what a shame, for the children’, ‘Don’t you wish they had the same dad?!’
It’s been hard to face the stigma, as a single mum and as a mum of two by two different fathers but here is my story. One I tell nervously, but proud of…
I am a Mum to a fierce and now 8 year old girl from a previous relationship, that was never destined to work out. I am also a mum of a now 1 year old girl with my husband.
With my eldest, it was just the two of us from when my baby girl turned 6 weeks old, I had to quickly figure out how to be her Mummy and look after us both at 23. I was terrible at it in all honesty, motherhood is not a natural affinity I felt and it truly was a baptism of fire.
It had become just me and her, no happy ending. I was incredibly ashamed of my circumstances and felt so alone.
I was just a girl myself but now with a baby and now terrified of how on Earth this would work out?! But one thing remained…this was my baby, my girl, my reason and my all.
Don’t get me wrong, it was HORRIFIC at times. Teething, sleep regressions, every illness, every test. No one walked through the watched door to help at 5pm.
I missed my old life, my old friends, the nights out, and the parties. But then when my baby was with her father, I missed her and felt I’d lost my purpose – I was a walking conflict of emotions and desires!
By my daughter’s 2nd Birthday, I was in to my 2nd year at university and providing a stable home as well as a strong amicable relationship with her father. Anything else was as an extra and not to ‘save us’. We had got this and I had zero interest in dating and the exposure of being ‘a single mum’ ‘getting back out there’. I had actually found my happy ever after in myself, I had found my strength.
Cue a change in circumstances -I met (my now husband) Sam.
I kept Sam away from my daughter for 6 months, partly out of my own fear of what could be, but mainly due to my fiercely strong belief that I couldn’t allow anyone in to her life who I thought was unlikely to remain a part of it. I think back now and knew from the first time they met, that her reaction said it all – this tiny 2 and a half year old stood in front of man that was a complete stranger (but that her Mummy was deeply in love with) and smiled. That smile. That he smiled back to. That moment of acceptance. That realisation that was made between all three of us that we were now a WE.
We got married 3 years later and 2 years after that had a baby, another girl.
My big girl has her fathers surname and I have my husbands, my littlest also has my husbands surname. We’ve had questions, tears and arguments over how this all fits together. My eldest has struggled with where she fits in now she has to share me with her sister and, I have struggled. How do I be a Mummy with a Daddy there by my side through the good days and bad.
When you’ve been a single parent, sharing is hard. Especially when it comes to children.
My husband is incredible with both our girls, and both girls are so loved. He rides the rollercoaster that family life can be, often without a choice! But being in a house of big and little fierce women, what do you expect?!
So yes assumptions will get made, judgements too. But here I am, 8 years in to parenting…still not really got a clue! But one thing is for certain:
My girls are so loved. My girls are truly magical and I am their Mum, in my own unique way.
Families are all unique.
Mothers are too.
And this is my story so far of being a Mum.