On Being a *Single* Mother
I’m fed up and feeling sorry for myself.
This time of year is shit when you’re single. The world seems full of happy couples, holding hands and kissing under mistletoe and doing their Christmas shopping and all the rest of it. And don’t give me all that old bollocks about people having problems you can’t see. The fact is, I go to bed alone and I get up alone and often the only person I speak more than three words to through the day is my todder who, lovely and perfect though she is, cannot really provide the companionship I long for.
If you’re single at Christmas, you can go out and get drunk with your friends and maybe cover up the fact you’re alone and miserable a little bit. A lot of people aren’t even lonely and miserable; they’re happy to be single. I was once.
When you’re a single mother though, you can’t go out and celebrate Christmas like all the other single people do. And even if I could get my sister to babysit every single night for me, I wouldn’t want to go out and leave S while I got drunk or whatever. Basically, I’m pissed off about a situation I can’t even really change.
At Christmas, it seems that you either do the drunken celebrations in the pub, or you do the family thing at home. Both are good fun, both involve Christmas cheer and blah blah blah. For me though, there’s not a lot of Christmas cheer to be had once S is in bed of an evening. Then it’s just me and the TV, which is inevitably filled with happy couples holding hands and kissing under mistletoe and doing their Christmas shopping and all the rest of it (I don’t watch Eastenders so I can’t comment on that particular bleakness). Even last year, when I was technically in a “relationship” at Christmas, I spent most of it alone, trying to cover the fact I was feeling pretty let down by that.
I think this current mood has been sparked by the fact there was a small piece in Mother & Baby about having sex when you’re a mother, and they used me as an example for the “single mother.” It just highlighted how shit my love life really is.
I’ve been single for almost a year. During that time, nobody has shown any real interest in being more than just friends with me. Earlier this year, three different men said they would like to take me to the cinema to see the same movie. Three of them… In the end, I just watched it when it came out on dvd; they all let me down. I love the cinema, but I’ve not been for nearly two years because there is nobody to go with. And yes, I could go with a friend but it’s not the same is it. That’s not what I’m missing. I have friends, and they all have partners to go back to and spend evenings and weekends and Christmas and New Year with.
I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m fed up. I don’t think I’m a bad person, I don’t think I deserve to be miserable and alone and have my lonely misery interspersed by brief periods of hope that I am not indeed disgusting and hopeless, only to be returned to the miserable loneliness, usually unceremoniously, for no apparent reason.
I’m tired of putting a brave face on. I’m tired of being a single mother. S is 20 months old now. I’ve had 20 months of doing everything alone (yes, I was seeing someone last Christmas but really, he didn’t manage to even once look after S for 20 minutes so that I could have a bath without an audience, much less “take the pressure off” or whatever it is they’re supposed to do). I’ve had 20 months of being alone. S goes to sleep, I do the house work, prepare what needs to be prepared for morning, maybe do a little work, and mostly sit and wait for it to be time to go to bed. Alone.
I was talking to a friend the other day who said a female friend was absolutely desperate to find a father for her children. I am sort of the other way. I am very wary of finding a “replacement dad” for S; not because of what single mothers usually say: “oh, she already has a father” because S doesn’t, really. She’s never had a father figure in her life. I am very wary of letting just anyone wander into that sort of role. So while I am desperately, miserably alone and single, I’ve managed to avoid all the ill-advised car crash relationships I used to wander into when I had nobody else to worry about, and wasn’t particularly worried about myself.
There has been a lot of examining my past relationships, a lot of navel gazing. A lot of wondering what is wrong with me, that I keep ending up in the same shit, with the same losers, feeling like the same idiot. I should have a better sense of self preservation, but I don’t. But now I have a sense of needing to protect my daughter, which is why I am single and not dating yet another in a long line of wankers. Not that any loser wankers are even showing an interest these days.
But it would still be nice to have someone to kiss under the mistletoe, someone to cuddle up to at night, someone to just be here from time to time. Someone to say “happy New Year, we’re going to have a great year together.”
Disclaimer: if you are, or are friends with/related to someone I used to date, obviously you/they are not included in the “long line of wankers” to which I refer. Obviously, you/they are the one shining exception.