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Breakups, being a single mum & lessons learnt

My daughter has had a fever since last night. She’s a bit better today but still upset and low in energy compared to her normal self. Single mum life is hard as it is, but when one or more of the kids go down with something it becomes ten times harder. Another really difficult time is the school holidays. The common theme? A lack of time to myself. Peace and quiet. Time to recharge. In my last relationship, I got a bit more of that. Not exponentially more, but noticeably more.

It's in these times of burnout and sensory overload that I look back on my last relationship and think – did I do the right thing to end it? Would we be better off if I had kept trying to nurture the relationship? It’s delusional thinking. When I reflect on that relationship, I remember the burnout we were both experiencing and the spirals of bickering and arguing it would send us in. It’s more of a peaceful home now. Once the kids are in childcare or asleep I only have myself to deal with, no one else’s needs to meet unless I specifically reach out, take a call or arrange something. Once the kids are settled, I’m free to give myself what I need without considering anyone else immediately first. So, despite nostalgic thinking whilst in the depths of my struggle, upon deeper reflection, single mum life is indisputably healthier than co-parenting in an incompatible dynamic. How did I know we were incompatible? More than anything it was a feeling. Something within me eventually just cut off. I couldn’t cope with the rollercoaster of our relationship anymore and I lost all faith that there was anything I could do to prevent the same cycles from repeating. I’m gutted it got to this point. I long to be a family. I long to not have the whole parenting responsibility on my shoulders, but it’s got to be with the right person. Someone I feel a good enough compatibility with. I know that no relationship will ever be perfect, and I will experience similar wounds and unhealthy patterns from myself showing up in all relationships. But I know the right person for me will balance me out and vice versa. There are so many different types of people in this world, with many different strengths and weaknesses. I trust that the right person for me there will feel a balance.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my last relationship (s) is taking time to get to know someone before becoming too attached. Getting to know people takes time, and it takes seeing that person in different environments and phases of life. Taking time with someone protects me from being so attached that I refuse to acknowledge how I feel or how my feelings change about that person/dynamic because I’ve allowed them to become someone who meets my core need for companionship.

Recently I’ve also reflected on how the men I’ve been attracted to are still resembling unhealthy compatibility with me and my values, and that in my time of being single, I’m able to consciously change whom I pursue from the old patterns to where I’m now choosing to go.

Being a single mother is devastatingly tough at times. There’s nothing I want more than to lean on my partner’s shoulder and talk over difficult parenting moments together instead of facing it all predominantly on my own. It feels isolating and incredibly lonely. I feel vulnerable in this position too, the need for company can feel so overwhelming at times that I feel vulnerable to accepting or reaching out for company from that place, therefore blinding myself to how unhealthy or incompatible that company really is for me and getting myself attached to compromising situationships.

I want so so badly to give my children the best life I can. It feels hard to do that when feeling in a dark hole of isolation and loneliness. I feel like I’m constantly treading water on the brink of drowning. I know that the right man could give me a break from treading water constantly, but the wrong man could push me into drowning. It’s the same with every connection I have right now. The right connection replenishes me, the wrong connection drowns me. And often it’s not just the person but the boundaries we have with each other. One connection with the right balance of boundaries can be replenishing, whilst that same connection with unhealthy boundaries can be draining. The most important part of maintaining healthy connections is being in touch with my needs whether that’s for space or to request more from a connection.

I grew up in a family full of married couples having children who stay together for a lifetime. I think it’s pretty strong in my programming and expectations to look to partner up in a relationship as my first point of call for co-parenting. Penguin style. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a clear space for a man in my life and asking God / The Universe for a healthy, compatible relationship. However, in this time when I am single, there is also a space for me to address my relationship with friends and community and not put all my focus on a man as if he would solve all my problems by appearing in my life, that old Disney prince charming saving the day narrative!

Performing at The Happy Hood Festival 2023, performance included 'Takes a Village' - a poem of prayer for all single parents to get the support they need to raise their children

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