I am a single mum with six children.
I know what certain media stereotypes that statement will create.
I hope that I can dispel them with this blog as well as having my own little outlet for the challenges and achievements of being a mum.
But first, an introductory blog.
I never wanted to be a single mum. I don’t know of any single mums that did set out with that intention (despite Daily Mail stories). But I did always want to be a mum.
I met my husband when I was 17, we married when I was 18 – sounds crazy now that I think about it – and we had our first child (Michael) six months later.
We were both working and bought our first house when I was 19. Those were the days when you could buy a house for less than £30,000. In fact, we bought a 3 bedroom semi-detached for £27,000! Makes me feel quite old when I think about it.
Natasha was born when I was 21, then Kaiya two years later.
It was when Kaiya was born that I decided to become a secondary school teacher, so I spent the next 5 years studying for my degree and then started my new career. I loved it. Life was great. Three growing fabulous children, a great job and secure income.
But when I hit 32, I decided that I wanted another child, resulting in Hannah and then a little brother, Nathaniel two years later.
At this point, I was still teaching but also running my own Birthing and Baby business. It was crazily busy with five children and life was up and down, but isn’t it for everyone?
Things had settled into a good pattern and a positive life/work balance when I found out that I was expecting another baby. It was a huge surprise. But, while one more would be more work, it wouldn’t be impossible. The little surprise also made me re-evaluate life and I realised that I would like to be at home more especially as this would be my last baby. So, after looking at our finances, we decided that I would cut down on work once the baby was born.
Plans don’t always go to plan though.
I don’t want to go into great detail about our split – it is far too complicated and would take you too long to read it all – so I will give a very brief outline.
In May 2013, while I was seven months pregnant, my husband got very drunk (to the point of being hospitalised) while I was working and he was looking after some of our children. He also hit one of our daughters. As a result, police and social services were involved in my life. And over the following weeks, despite my husband no longer living with us, things got worse rather than better with his drinking and subsequent actions. It was very clear that the separation was to be permanent for mine and my children’s sake.
There was no soul-searching decision to make. After being together for 20 years, it was over.
Three weeks after my husband left and three weeks before his due date, I gave birth to Alexander – my beautiful sixth baby. Not without a bit of drama as my waters broke while the kitchen fitters were still putting in my kitchen. Dust and mess everywhere. Fortunately, my children mucked in and we got the place cleaned before Alexander arrived.
Due to the circumstances, my husband didn’t attend the birth. But my Mum drove 190 miles to be my birth partner. I can’t thank her enough. I had to stay in hospital overnight so don’t know what I would have done without her.
My Mum stayed for the first five days of Alexander’s life and it was such a special time. It was great having her doing the washing – my least favourite job – although I had to do the cooking as that is her least favourite job.
I am not sure how I managed when she left. I was a single mum to six children with no family around. All I know is that I did survive. But those early weeks are such a blur.
When Alexander was 8 weeks old, I decided it would be a good idea to spend a few days as a family in a yurt in the middle of nowhere. Due to the constant stresses and dramas that my husband was still putting us all through, it seemed very attractive to be somewhere isolated with no phone signal or internet. There was also no toilet or shower. It was literally a yurt in the middle of some woods. But it was a great break and just what we needed.
I went back to the self-employed work when Alexander was 3 months old. I would have liked longer off but my husband had by now lost his job due to his regular court appearances for being drunk, so the only income that I had was my SMP of £136 a week plus tax credits and child benefit and that simply wasn’t going to pay the mortgage or bills.
Fast forward to today (October 2014)….
Alexander is now 16 months old, I have been a single mum for 17 months and in that time, we have had two family holidays, got a new pet, decorated one room, celebrated Christmas and a few birthdays, moved 200 miles to start a new life and I’ve got a new job.
My husband doesn’t see the children and I had to get a court injunction to ensure mine and my children’s safety.
It has not been an easy ride but there are many positives too. But I think I will leave that for another blog.
I never saw myself being a single mum of six children and I certainly never wanted it. But that is my life today and I am happy.