#107 The Umbrella Collective, Week One – Prejudice & The Single Mum

This is my first ever blog collaboration. It has been organised by the lovely Rhiannon of The Sparkly Panda after a conversation on #lbloggers twitter chat. There are four of us, myself, Rhiannon, Laura of What Laura Did & Alice of The Cup and Saucer and we’ve teamed up to write weekly under an umbrella topic. This week the topic is Prejudice and the different forms it comes in. I’ve chosen to write about my experience as a single mum and the prejudice that is attached to that. 
I’m twenty five years old, with a fourteen month old daughter and I’m a single mum. This has been my status for almost a year meaning I split with my daughters father shortly before she was four months old. 
The prejudice towards my situation actually starts here with the fact I’m single with such a young child and i’m sad to say it came in the form of family & people I thought were my friends. There is a lot of stigma towards young single mums anyway, I know I’m guilty of it on occasions but what upset me the most is the fact no one bothers to understand my situation. So let me explain it.
I never wanted to be a single mum. When I found out I was pregnant a year earlier I was overjoyed, desperate to settle down, get a house together and start a life together. I even used to have a little folder on my desktop for wedding inspiration. I put all my savings into a lovely house, buying furniture and bits of the baby. I wanted it to work out, I tried to make it work out. For months I battled against my daughters father, he was abusive, mentally and physically, controlling, and worst of all an alcoholic in denial. I made excuses through the last months of my pregnancy and the first few months of her life. But it got to much. I ended up battling baby blues (different from Post Natal Depression) and contemplating suicide. I had to get out. Even after I left I convinced myself he could change, but he didn’t and I don’t think he ever will. Looking back now I know I was an idiot in love, I should of seen the signs.. hell everyone else did! But worst of all.. I realise now if I hadn’t left when I did, I’d probably be dead. 
But does anyone see this? No. Instead I’m judged and scorned because I didn’t stick around to make it work for my daughters sake. What about my sake? Trust me, I didn’t want to do this alone. Being a mother is bloody hard work even when there are two of you, or so I’m told. I know I’m a much better mother these days without him methodically destroying my life, dismantling my self esteem and friendships piece by piece. I didn’t stick around because if I had my daughter might of grown up without her mother. Haven’t these people with their prejudice against me heard of the phrase “one happy parents is better than two unhappy parents?” I know I’m doing a much better job these days than when I was with him, and if you spent 5 minutes with my daughter you’d see that. 
The stigma of course doesn’t end with the fact in their opinion I didn’t give things a chance.. no, it extends to the fact I’m barely hanging onto employment and living in my parents back bedroom. Although I made myself a single mother by choice, I didn’t chose anything that goes with that. I didn’t for one second want to move back to my parents, to my home town. In fact I struggled for two months before accepting defeat. I thought I did so well to get myself a job straight out of maternity leave but the town I live in doesn’t have enough jobs for the flexible full timers let alone someone like me who can only work certain days and hours with no flexibility due to needing someone to look after my daughter. I was paid off after the Christmas period due to there not being enough work. I now work a few hours a week doing my mums accounts for where she works. That is all I get.. so I’m now the enemy of the country.. the single mum on benefits.
This is the worst prejudice.. this is what I get upset at every day when I read peoples Facebook feeds and Twitter, writing abuse about non working parents living on the state. I don’t want this. I fought for so long against putting myself on the council house list because I wanted to private rent. Looking at the numbers I couldn’t rent in this area a house big enough for the two of us. I want to give my daughter the world to make up for how shit her father is. I want to give her a nice house and her own room, and be able to still treat her. What parent doesn’t want the best for their children? 
I want to better myself. I don’t want to not be working my allotted 16 hours a week. I’ve worked since I was 16 and lived away from home since I was 18. I hate this. I hate living at home and I hate being out of a job. You know the job would be nice to just get a BREAK from being mum. To be Amy again. I love my daughter with all my heart and despite the shitty circumstances that have come out of it, I wouldn’t ever change what happened and how she came to be.. but shortly before I met her father I’d finally got to the point where I was happy being me and then I became lost.. after a year I feel I’m back and I’m ready for that to be extended into every day life.. to still retain Amy as well as being Mummy. I’m sure all mothers who read this will understand what I mean. It’s the reason I started this blog in the first place!
I don’t deserve this prejudice that comes with the label of a single mum because I’m a bloody good mum. My daughter is beautiful, clever and a little comic. She is healthy and the happiest little thing you could ever meet. I’m lucky to have such a close bond with her. I’m starting a book keeping course next month so when I do return to work I no longer have to wait tables or serve drunks their beer. I want a good job. I have a five year plan, I’m doing my training while I live at home and pay minimal on keep. Then I want to move out into this town. Work so I have money & experience behind me before returning to a city life as I’d like to go onto university and send my daughter to a good school. I want to learn to drive once i’m working again too. I also hope one day I’ll meet someone who is prepared to make a life with me and someone else’s child.. I hate that I’m often viewed as damaged by men because of my baggage.
Really, I think this country would be much better off if everyone stopped squabbling and making people feel like shit for circumstances they can’t change. Two years ago I never thought this would be my situation and I already feel bad enough without people making me feel like rubbish because I walked away from an abusive ex.. would they make me feel so bad had their been no children involved? Probably not..
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