Do You Know What Being a Single Mum is Like?

Being a single Mum is like getting the early shift every morning. It’s like endless questions – like being a teacher, and a scientist, and an encyclopedia, and a Prophet of the Great Avatar Google. It’s like listening to someone enthuse about their favorite subject, over and over, for hours and hours. It’s like having the share that enthusiasm, whether you’ve had enough or not.

Being a single Mum means someone in your company absorbing everything you do. Your speech, your moods, your habits, your reactions – every time you move or open your mouth, you teach him something whether you want to or not. It’s like having to watch yourself, to be conscious of your own behavior and emotional reactions. Being a single Mum means having someone that needs you – no matter how big he may seem to be. He comes to give you a cuddle and look at you out of baby-wide eyes, and then he licks you and farts.

Do you know what being a single Mum is like?

It’s like your personal life ends at 3:15pm. It’s like a scheduling nightmare, like running endless errands. It’s like never having any money. These days, it’s like being a political scapegoat, spattered over the front pages of the right wing press, like cringing every time you read the propaganda of your own demographic.

It’s like being a demographic.

Being a single Mum is like never going out. It’s like never being able to manage a routine at the gym. It’s like setting up events, doing all the background work, and then not being able to attend them. It’s like seeing evenings you’d love to attend pass by, time after time after time. It’s like seeing friends roll their eyes – at first tolerantly, eventually in exasperation – when they invite you out and you can’t go. Again. At last, there comes a time when they, one after another, stop asking. And you can’t really blame them.

Do you know what being a single Mum is like?

It’s like creeping in to your son’s room just before you go to bed, and seeing him sleeping – his hands raised into chubby fists as if he were a tiny child. It’s like standing there in wonder at this thing, this miracle, this best of friends; like touching his hair with no idea as to how he grew so big, so fast. It’s like wondering where his childhood went, and wishing you could give him a real cuddle without him going ‘ewwwww MUM!’ and trying to punch you in the ear. It’s like knowing the next years will fly by, and he will be grown beyond you before you know it. It’s like love and awe and poignance – you know you will have to let him go, and that that distance is starting, even now. God knows, you may be claustrophobic at times, but watching him sleep, you know it will all be gone too fast for you to follow.

And one day, you know, and all too soon, you will be standing there, a somewhat threadbare cuddly cat in your hands, looking up at your son’s bristling chin and wishing with all your heart that you could trade all your independence for one more sight of your wonderful and clever and funny and sleeping child.

I’m not prone to poetry. But being a single Mum can do that to you.

Sleeping Cub