Life changes when you have a baby, no one would quibble with that. I’m not saying you have to lose your entire identity as you take on the role of parent, but certain things will change. Some changes are definitely for the better, others I’m not so sure. Here are just a few things that now feature in everyday life that were never there before.
Since becoming a single parent, it hasn’t been the stigmatisation we face that has been my biggest bugbear. I know that exists in buckets in the media, amongst Conservative politicians and society in general. But much more noticeable to me has been people’s pity. No matter how innocent and well-meaning it is, I’d like to take this opportunity to say (in the politest possible way) that single parents, unless they expressly ask for it, don’t need sympathy.
During most of my pregnancy, I was mostly excited to become a mum, but it still didn’t feel very real if I’m honest. I felt pretty serene and in control (before antenatal anxiety hit me hard in the third trimester). I’m working on feeling that calm again post-partum, but I’ve found my parenting doubts difficult to stifle at times.
Just before I became a first-time mum 15 weeks ago, I had all the usual concerns like not getting enough sleep, becoming a dazed zombie and so on. But there was something much bigger as well: the fear that I might somehow ‘lose myself’ in motherhood, along with all the travel, family and career dreams I’d been harbouring for years.
I’m all for anything that will inject some structure into our day, so I was delighted when BookTrust sent me some goodies as part of their 2017 Bath, Book, Bed campaign. Together with Jo Frost, BookTrust’s aim is for us all to achieve a better night’s sleep… and what parent wouldn’t be interested in that?
Not long after becoming a mum, my thoughts turned to the kind of person my tiny baby would grow to be. I felt as though I could sense a few of his personality traits very early on, at around six weeks of age — so to make sure I wasn’t going crazy and projecting random characteristics onto the poor boy, I turned to Google.
Like all kinds of parenting, single parenting comes with its own set of challenges. With just 14 weeks’ experience, I’m not going to pretend I’m some kind of single mama expert, but there are a few things I’ve learnt that I wish I knew from the beginning: