I don’t remember ever living with my Dad. My parents got divorced when I was about 6 months old. Throughout my childhood I had a pretty sporadic relationship with my Dad and so, for roughly the first ten years of my life, it was just me and my Mum. There are lots of stereotypes that surround single parent families that which I hope to prove are often not the case. Of course a single parent household brings with it difficulties, however, I have not only managed but I have thrived and learnt so many valuable life lessons through being bought up by my mother alone. These lessons have helped me become a braver, stronger and more independent person.
The first thing I learnt through being bought up by only my mother, is that your mother is the best and most loyal friend you could ask for. For the last 20 years, my mother has not only been my mum but has also been the best friend I could ask for. When I was growing up it was very difficult for Mum to juggle a social life whilst bringing up a child, which meant our relationship became as much friends as it was mother and daughter. Because of this, all my life I have had someone to confide in about anything and everything. Whatever I am going through, I never feel like I have to face anything alone and there are no conversational boundaries in our household, literally anything goes! Contrary to stereotypes surrounding single parent families, this relationship meant I never needed to go through the ‘rebellious’ teen stage and never felt the need to go behind my Mum’s back. Don’t get me wrong, there were and still are moments when my mother very much takes on her authoritative role but luckily this isn’t that often.
Through my life I have always adopted the philosophy ‘say yes and figure it out later’. Now, I’m the first to admit that this has sometimes left me in some pretty sticky situations but it has also opened doors for me that I never thought were possible. Each time I agree to something, whether it goes well or not, I take something away from it and develop as a person. I entirely put this attribute down to my single parent upbringing. I have never once seen my Mum give up. She might not know how to do everything at first, but she can turn her hand to anything when she needs to. My Mum admits that bring me up alone meant she had to improvise a lot, but she figured it out.
Despite research showing that children who grow up without fathers are more likely to be unhappy, my upbringing taught me very different. From watching my Mum thrive, I learnt from a young age that happiness should always be my main priority. I have sometimes struggled with this, as I think everyone does, but having this message instilled in me from an early age helps me immensely when dealing with tough situations. My Mum’s experience taught me never to stay in a relationship you’re unhappy with – you’ll be so much better off on your own. In every aspect of your life you should always respect yourself enough to walk away from something that is no longer helping you grow, whether that be a relationship or a career.
This brings me to the last and most important thing I’ve learnt from being bought up by a single parent. Be brave. No matter how hard things get, and things will get hard, things will always get better. They might not get better over night and sometimes it will seem like everything is against you, but give it time. Walking away from something (or someone), tackling new challenges alone and remaining positive and focused during your hardest times, is scary. But you can do it if you’re brave enough to. It’s okay that things aren’t ‘perfect’ all the time, in fact, things never will be ‘perfect’, but appreciate everything that is there in front of you and always try your best to give back.
Being bought up by a single parent has never made me lack faith in love or feel any bitterness. My Mum and Dad still have a good relationship and, when I turned 12 years old, my mother married my now step-dad who I love and consider, not only part of my family, but also a friend. If anything, I have seen the strength of love people can have for each other and the strength we have inside us. Looking back on my childhood now as I leave my teenage years, no part of me feels like it was lacking anything.
I will forever be grateful to my mother for giving me so much love and being the strongest role model I could have ever asked for.