My proudest moments of being a single parent – Ema’s story

Posted 21 March 2020

Ema Howling single parent story
I was late in the game of parenthood, although had been a nanny for over 20 years so was very prepared to be a mother, when I eventually did it was at the age of 42.
Having tried for years with a partner and nothing coming of it I had resided to the fact that I wouldn’t have children so when I became pregnant it was an absolutely wonderful surprise.
But that news also came with the realisation that I was going to be a single parent. At the time I was working in Switzerland when I found out the amazing news. I had decided I was on a new career path of nannying abroad this then came to a halt with the wonderful discovery.
I returned back to London to start nesting and prepare for the upcoming birth.
Looking back over the last five and a half years I don’t see one proud moment, I feel proud of every moment. Three months after the birth of my son I started a new coordinator group in Northwest London for Gingerbread to coordinate and support other single parents, and I have since expanded our group from 3 to over 90. I organise meetups to parks, fire stations, theatre, outings, Christmas parties or just a conversation on the phone.
This year we met on Christmas Day, which was a great success, parents came with and without their children. We had many donations and made what could’ve been a very lonely day for Stan into a happy day.
I solely looked after my son up until he went to reception and since then I’ve been working. We both volunteer for other organisations and this March will be my sons fifth year for collecting for Marie Curie.
Our biggest challenge came last year. I am proud of both myself and my son for how we dealt with the situation. Unbeknown to me and all of her friends and family, my friend and fellow single mum Kim was rushed into intensive care.
I had known Kim for just over two years. She had attended many Gingerbread meetings being a single mother like myself and we’d been away on day outings together.
Her son and my son were like little brothers together.
The devastating news came when I was informed she was in intensive care and if I could look after her son while she was getting better.
At the time I was not aware of the seriousness of her condition, but of course I took Jack in, and we muddled through the best we could with the thought that Kim was going to be coming home very soon. I visited the hospital daily and set up Jack a nursery place. At weekends he would go to his aunt and uncles to get to know them better.
Unfortunately, the day Jack went home with his mother didn’t come. Kim passed away, leaving Jack in limbo.
She had not left a will or any information for his future living arrangement and unfortunately, there was no father on the birth certificate.
With the devastating news of Kim‘s passing, it was a very trying time for all concerned. My son and I had the adjustments of a small boy living with us and the realisation that his mother had died. Haze, my son, showed great strength and compassion at this time and really did take Jack under his wing.
Without going into too much detail, family members rallied round, and Haze and I looked after Jack for just over three months. In that time my son and Jack became like true brothers and I’m sure they always will be.
It’s not until life throws you these obstacles that you realise how strong you are and how proud you can be of yourself having to deal with life’s woes. It will soon be a year since she passed so I hope to do something to remember her.
To see Haze grow into a kind, thoughtful compassionate, happy human, will make me my proudest. We have a while to go until he leaves my nest as he is only 5 years old, but I hope by then I will of given him all the tools he needs.
It’s the challenging times that build your character. I can see that now…

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