Being a single parent has made me strong

Posted 2 October 2017

“Being a single parent has made me strong and independent” says single mum Jo.

I’m 43. I became a single mum at 30 after my partner left me and our one-year-old son Patrick. It was a total shock to suddenly be thrown into a life I had never imagined or planned. I had no family living near by and felt very alone. But I made a promise to myself that I would always put my son first.

Luckily I had a part-time job and found a wonderful nursery for my son. With the help of tax credits, I could cover the cost of childcare and continue to work part-time. My job was my lifeline and I am still with the same firm today, I work for a travel company, selling holidays.

The fact that my son loved his nursery from day one and did so well there was a huge relief. He was at nursery three days a week while I worked, and we were together the rest of the time. Nursery gave him an excellent start in life, the staff there spotted his flair for art and encouraged his creativity, his artwork now is amazing. By the time he began school at five, he was so ahead of the other kids. He is now 13 and in the top set for everything at school.

Proud

I’m so proud of him and am constantly talking up the fact that, despite what the media would have us believe, kids from single parent families can do well at school. People love to label us. I’ve had comments like: “You don’t look like a single parent.” Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

Patrick is happy, popular, placid and very well-behaved. I am always being told what a great kid he is. Life is getting a bit easier now he’s 13 and becoming more independent.

I do feel I’m coming out the other side now. The toughest times were when my son was young, I had to do so much juggling, especially when he was ill and during school holidays. The hardest thing is the worry, and being totally responsible for your child.

My parents have been fantastic, I honestly couldn’t have done it without them. Patrick and his grandparents get on so well, he shares a love of reading with his grandma and talks football and cars with his grandfather.

Thank you, Gingerbread

I’m a member of Gingerbread and when Patrick was younger, we went on many outings with our local group. These days I like to look at Gingerbread’s website, I enjoy reading other single parents’ stories, especially older mums like myself, to find out how they are doing, it confirms that I’m not the only one bringing up a child on my own. Thanks for all the support over the years Gingerbread, you have helped us a lot.

As for my ex-partner, we have had very little contact with him, he chose to move abroad without even a forwarding address. He informed us by text. Our son was seven at the time.

So for all you single mums out there, it may seem scary at first but you can do it. The rewards are amazing. I wasn’t a confident child or teenager, I was the quiet one. But being a single parent has made me strong, independent, and probably more opinionated. I’ve coped because I had to.

Me and my son are so close and I wouldn’t change a thing.

For detailed step-by-step advice on everything from benefits and tax credits to childcare and your wellbeing, read our guide to separation.