Emily is a single mother to a nearly three-year-old son, Henry, who has cystic fibrosis. In 2017, they moved from London to Cornwall. Here, she writes about how freeing it has been for her to become a single parent.
Becoming a single parent almost two years ago has been a defining moment in my life. This time of year can be very hard for me. It’s when I realised that life in our new flat was no different, the same empty words and behaviours unchanged, and that I was as alone as ever. I lay in bed frequently in tears from confusion, isolation and pure exhaustion. My son was only eight months old then. In the two years that have followed I cannot believe the utter strength, determination and pride I feel in myself for walking away and becoming a single parent.
Separation, divorce, moving home yet again, away from everything I knew, the daily medical needs of my son, has been the biggest, most exhausting challenge. I have knocked on many doors and had them closed. I have understood my post-natal depression. I have become a warrior single mother to my son.
‘The Plan’ has changed unbelievably. But I am so amazed I have got through the toughest two years of my life. I have raised my baby son into a kind and loving toddler. I have been there for all the hospital visits, GP appointments, nights full of fever and sickness. Making up Calpol while holding a sick child is no mean feat. I have put him to bed alone night after night, brushed his teeth, and kept him warm and clean. Moved him into a bigger bed, kept a routine going so he feels secure wherever we are. He trusts me, he is safe in our home, a home I bought for us, spent months tirelessly renovating, new carpet, new kitchen for all our needs. He potty trained all by himself in three days! He is an absolute star and when I pick him up from nursery he is so happy, has new friends, and is a bundle of energy.
There have been many months that have been awful and endless. Very little sleep, frustration from us both, financial struggle, my mental health and his chronic illness has pushed me to my limit many, many times. But I have always had hope. Hope that things will get better, easier, more fun. And the truth is we have made it out of that very dark time, together, this little boy pushing me, learning from me and understanding that it is just Henry and Mummy. The pride in myself and my son having fought through that time is total #SingleParentStrength. Whatever our future may hold, and there will be many good and bad days ahead, my understanding of what I can experience and overcome shows resilience and strength that can never be taken away.
I remember lying on my bed in the flat we had just moved in to as a family, a fresh start but nights and nights of endless arguments and tears left me realising I was going to be a ‘single parent’. I didn’t know what that meant, what to expect, how to navigate losing the husband that I loved but who didn’t want to come home and support me, and who left me feeling isolated and alone. And that there was a child who needed love, support and his daily needs met.
What I didn’t know then but know now, is how freeing it has been becoming a single parent. The highs are greater, the lows are tougher but it is amazing to be raising a child and to overcome so much all by myself. I feel so proud of all single parents, all our individual circumstances that have got us here and the battles that continue to go on. We all have #SingleParentStrength.
Emily blogs at www.justtheonejournal.blogspot.com, and you can follow her and Henry’s adventures on Instagram too, @emilyandhenry.