Maria is single mum to two sons, who are thriving. But juggling work and family life with little support is exhausting, she says.
“I once had a run-in with another mum, who said she couldn’t invite my son to a birthday party because he was from a broken family. But another mother firmly told the party hostess she shouldn’t speak to me like that. You get both sides. Some people run you down for being a single mum – but others are very supportive. Initially I did have a lot of shame about being a single mum, now I am more used to it. But I have so little empathy or support. My happily married sister does not help, which has been such a disappointment.
I have two sons, Nathan, 11 and Joshua, who’s 10. Their father was violent and abusive, I slung him out. He made allegations to social services about me, that have gone on ever since the boys were tiny, so for nearly ten years and have only just stopped. My life is a rolling cycle of work, boys, bath, bed, clear up house. I get tired and irritable, feel I’m not quite keeping up.
I work five days a week, 9.30-3, I’m a drugs worker. I go in for a rest and adult company. The hours are manageable, I couldn’t do full-time. The trouble with being a single parent is that one’s own social life goes out of the window and finances are so stretched and career prospects somewhat limited. Others who are not in this situation tend to have no idea of why you are skint all the time. It can be a very lonely place. As for a love life, it depends on whether kids get on with someone or someone gets on with them and anyway how does a single parent meet or date people?
All my money goes on the boys, I don’t have a choice. They need me to keep home life as stable as possible, feed them, bring in an income. It is a bloody exhausting life but once the kids are there you have to do what is best for them. They are both thriving and we have a good relationship. As they grow older, I will get more of my life back.
We never have enough money and my sons have learnt to appreciate what things cost, that we need to save up for treats, they don’t expect big presents. We do lots of things together – galleries, visit the seaside, martial arts, surfing. I’ve taught them to help around the house, how to cook. I’m proud of them.”