Posted 17 May 2019
Gingerbread Fundraising Officer Daniel writes about his experience of growing up in a single parent family, and why he’s taking part in our Virtual Marathon as a tribute to the strength of his parents. On...
Posted 28 November 2017
I became a single parent through divorce when my daughter had just turned two years old. My husband had been having an affair and walked out. At the time, I’d been with him nearly half of my life and couldn’t imagine moving on. I couldn’t believe what he had done. I’d just been made redundant and hadn’t started new employment yet, whilst he was in the process of climbing a very successful career ladder.
After the shock of what happened, I started a new job and received help from tax credits – I had an income coming in. Then the divorce proceedings began. That was stressful enough. I never want to go through another divorce! Fortunately, at the time, I qualified for legal aid which helped enormously. My daughter and I managed to stay in the ‘former martial home’. Thankfully, that home is now mine and the mortgage that came with it!! I was a single parent.
The first year, I was racked with guilt because my daughter was going to be brought up in “broken” home. The opportunities I wanted for her were now limited. However, through local playgroups, I found new friends with children my daughter’s age, and I had a great social life that included both of us. I then had an opportunity in my new job to gain an accountancy qualification, which helped my future employment prospects. I shocked myself at how determined I became.
We didn’t go on holiday for a few years due to mainly fear and affordability. My daughter had started school and a friend had found a cheap deal to Centre Parcs. She asked if I was interested and I was – that was our first holiday. I had never driven that far on my own before but I had an AA route planner and hoped for the best – my daughter is now great at reading directions.
Forward two years and I hit a big birthday. I had always dreamed of travelling the world and missed my foreign holidays. I decided that this year we were going abroad. “I’m going to save like mad” I said, so I booked a week in Turkey. It ended up on my credit card! Driving to the airport, I was so nervous I nearly ended up turning round and going home. What if I got on the wrong plane and ended up god knows where? We didn’t – we had a great time. We ventured off on our own to the water park, shopped at the bazaars, eat on the beachfront and even dined at the local McDonalds. After that, we have holidayed abroad each year. Our last couple of holidays, I have been brave enough to hire a car, even drove on the “other side of the road” (including American highways), got lost in the Cypriot Mountains and lived to tell the tale.
I became very independent, strong and determined. Then our travelling experiences started to inspire me to write my own books. I started to daydream about writing short stories of adventures my daughter and I would have. These daydreams lasted for a couple of years when, at last, I thought, I’m actually going to write them. Why not? Look at JK Rowling. She was a single parent with dreams of being a writer. I wrote my first story ‘The Adventures of Jilly and June in China’ based on a mother and daughter flying around the world in a flying house. China was the first destination of my stories – it’s my dream to visit.
We have a pet cat that’s also included in the stories – he’s part of our small family. I have now written a second story ‘The Adventures of Jilly and June in India’ and am now in the process of writing a third. I have self-published my books. They are available to download on most online stores including Kindle, iBooks, Kobo and in paperback on Amazon.
One of my first jobs (BE – before email), I had to write numerous letters to customers. To my surprise, I was actually good at writing letters. In my next job, there wasn’t much of a reason to write as it was accountancy based, and much to my dismay, I began to lose my skill at writing letters. Similarly, to riding a bike, I knew that if I started to write again I would be able to write my own books. At first, my Daughter, being a teenager, was quite sceptical about why we were the inspiration for my stories. Now she is very proud of me and thinks my books are “cute”!
I’ve always dreamed of being self-employed and earning a living doing something I enjoy and is rewarding. I hope that writing will help me achieve that. I always say that single parenthood is my proudest achievement. It has made the strong and determined person I am today.