I’m a sole parent. I mean you knew that about me right? I’m sure I’ve mentioned it, but somewhere in me exists this thing that “single mother” tastes a bit funny in the back of my throat and there’s a part of me that wants to do all of this in spite of it, and then part of me that wishes it didn’t matter. I’m no longer single, but I’m still the sole parent of my children when they are with me, which to be honest is pretty much all of the time. There have been periods of shared care with their dad, but how it is right now is not what I would call it, even though I believe in it and wished for it for them (and him too actually, and me a bit too because then I wouldn’t be so responsible for all of us all the time).
I never wanted to be a single mother. I just didn’t think that that was how it would go for me (but I didn’t have an alternative plan, I just didn’t think it would be that one). When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I naively and hopefully believed in some kind of foreverness with him and our family (the one I imagined happened when you had babies with people). It wasn’t that, not even once, even after I compromised everything in the hope that he wouldn’t leave me. He wasn’t up for it (not then) and I became a single mother at 7 months pregnant. By fax. So mid-90s. Eeeeek. Even waiting two years for an epiphany (from him) that we would be together, it never happened. Being a single mum at 22 with one super cool child (probably because she got her Mum’s young, energetic and undivided attention and was almost the first child everywhere and the first grandchild and all good things) was actually one of the coolest and fun experiences of my life. It did (foolishly) make me believe that motherhood came naturally to me and having kids was fun and easy and you still got to have a pretty cool social life and go travelling and stuff. Ha. And in all honesty is was easier to not have to expect anyone to help or get up at night or carry luggage at airports, or get car seats in and out of cars, or argue about immunisation or holiday location decisions with. It seemed easier than half-assed help. I’m not sure I knew what the other type of help was actually, or if I did I didn’t allow it or I didn’t ask for it, and I definitely didn’t get it.
Anyway, a few more years (like lots) and a few more children, and I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child when I was 36. Eeeek. Three weeks after my husband and I separated for the final time. Big fucking eeeeeek. And then, I was a pregnant single mother of three to two different Dads. Oh, holy eek of eeek. Judgement Day. Up in a ball of flames. Judgement only matters if it matters to you. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about how it is, it only matters how you do, and on the surface this is logical and OK. But do you know what it feels like inside? In the place where the shadows hide? It’s like saying “nobody loved me”. He (none of them) loved me enough to stay and that, that thing? That tastes bad in the back of your throat no matter how many times you say it out loud or how many times you say it doesn’t matter. At those times, it matters more than anything.
Recently my youngest sister has had two babies. And watching her and her man with those boys (and my older sister with her man and their kids all along) I realised that my babies have grown up and that support for those times (alone, late at night, sleep-deprived, scared) was such a fucked-up mish-mosh of confusion and nothingness and half-assedness and I will never have another baby, I can only grow up the four girls I have to the best of my ability. And that hurt my heart a bit, even though we are all brave and strong and OK.
And so am I doing this to prove I can? In spite of it? Or is just the thing I’m meant to be doing in the world and the journey to get here filled with all those times made me so fucking determined to make this work. There is no choice. I will not get a job. I will create a life that is abundant and full of experiences for my children and show them what a life filled with passion is like. I did not want to do this on my own, in fact I rallied so hard against doing it on my own I stayed too long in my marriage and in my post-married relationship because I could not face that I would have to do it alone. And I did it alone anyway from inside something that was meant to be something else.
But here’s the truth.
We’re all meant to do it alone.
Not on our own, but alone. From our own internal resources but connected to the world.
And sometimes we forget that. It’s not that I didn’t have a choice to figure this out sooner. Many times God laid the path in front of me with open hands, but I could not stop long enough to follow it. Instead I hoped that there was another answer. That there was some of me missing, that only someone who loved me enough to stay could fill.
And the truth? No one can ever fill your missing. Except the whole world.
It is not luck that I am here (right now, this day at the Gold Coast in a house on the beach with a tribe of firecrackers and world changers just like me and you). I am not especially brilliant and amazing and good at business and rich and lucky and more determined or more anything than anyone else. When I talk to people on the phone about their dreams sometimes I fight harder than them, only because I know exactly how it feels to not be sure of the truth about you and I want them to see the thing they need to, so they can do the thing they want to. The thing they want to. Usually not the thing they are doing most and every day. And there are so many excuses (it’s OK, I know you are scared, we are all scared some of the time (and some most of the time) but the only difference is that the ones who get what they want do not let the scared take them down). They do something. Something small or something huge. But just something that is not nothing. Because if nothing changes, nothing changes and if you are by some strange and weird “coincidence”, some lucky chance, talking to someone (me) on the phone about your dreams and hopes then it must be time to change something. It doesn’t have to be with me, but I promise it is an offer made my God with open hands.
I would have not thought 12 months ago that this was possible for me. That I would have changed the structure of my business, that I would have created a way to connect people to their magic and purpose and change the world in a ripple that spreads out from us and touches people. And this all has everything and nothing to do with the fact that I am a sole parent and I have been a single mother. The last group of women who came through my Incubator Program called me Mumma Hen, and the 22 year old in me can not fathom how they see me in that way because I am only 22 and what would I know about any of it? And then I remember I have been a mother for 19.5 years and perhaps everything I know and how I got here to be the 41-year-old Mumma Hen (who tells 22 year old jokes and sometimes forgets to be appropriately motherly) was the path to help me realise the truth.
We’re all meant to do it alone. Not on our own, but alone. From our own internal resources but connected to the whole world.
Here I go…