Home Parenting & Family The Marriage Of A Single Mother #Coparenting #Stepparents

The Marriage Of A Single Mother #Coparenting #Stepparents

by Author: Jade Lloyd

First comes love then comes marriage then comes the baby in the baby carriage. Not one for bending to the whim of a rhyme, I started with the baby.

You should know upfront, this is not a silver-slippers, Disney-esk love story.

In fact, up until recently I had thought my fairy godmother had died of cholera. This is not a post about perfection or presenting a smug ‘look at me and my happiness’, or getting a storybook family that you ‘should’ have. It is about hope, and strength, and how journeys aren’t quite always what you think they will be.

When pregnant I was convinced a family was what I needed, what my son needed. It was told to me, it was demanded and urged both subtlety and shouted. That plaguing thought drove me to stay in a place, in a relationship, that was desperately unhappy. Sometimes families don’t work, people don’t stay together and shouldn’t stay together. The glacial fear of separation potentially being ‘bad’ for a child bound mummy and daddy together until all there was left was anger and resentment.

Through no one’s fault love can get lost.

Being a single mother was perhaps my greatest achievement but at times felt like my greatest failure. I carried disappointment, stigma, financial strain and loneliness. Life was juggling a hundred heavy balls and having no one to catch them except me. Picture perfect white picket fence mums and dads sometimes incited jealousy. But then I had duvet forts and fish finger sandwiches with no one to consider but my son and myself. Two musketeers instead of three works pretty darn well. As a lone parent I did feel like I would never find someone else, like I should never find someone else because I had a little person reliant to me forever, my first priority. How could I trust a person with my feelings or with the care of my child’s? Who would want to take on this kind of milk-drinking, sticky-fingered, Teletubby-loving extra?

Dating and relationships seemed like one big impossible paradox. My sleep deprived brain had little time for it.

As I said, this is not a, ‘how to get a boyfriend’ post. Single parents can kick ass on their own. A single father does not need a wife to be a good dad. A woman does not need a partner. Family, ‘a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit’. The dictionary definition needs to wake up and smell modernity. I was a family alone with my boy. What about those that choose to go it alone, those that adopt and use donors? 

BUT, if in those quiet hours at night you are worrying and wondering and hoping. Just because one future faded doesn’t mean all of them are lost. It is a universe of endless possibilities…and Tinder.

The other week my partner proposed and I said yes. Three little letters. I wasn’t looking for someone. My new family didn’t fall beautifully into place. It took time. My partner lovingly folded an unexpected child into his world, into his life. We have all stumbled round in the dark at times and constantly compromise.

Sin and the single mother.

The thing I find difficult? A sparkling ring on my left hand is not enough to silence judgement.
People pose well intended questions to my partner, casual conversations asking him why he chose someone with a child. Should I feel grateful that my partner is marrying me? I am grateful yes, for him and everything he is but our relationship is not founded on charity.

We are all deserving of being loved with no exceptions or apologies.

The weight of a baby born out of wedlock is heavy. Will I for the rest of my life have whispers follow me for not staying with someone that treated me badly? Why can’t being a single parent be a celebration of being brave and independent, rather than a social pariah?

And my partner? He gets two people that love him instead of one. Family life will be a challenge, happily ever after is hard won, but no family is perfect or easy.

Instead I need to start worrying about if fitting into a wedding dress when I eat Snickers for breakfast.

Are you a single parent? Are you in the process of separating, are you happily married? Is there a right or wrong parent or family?

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40 comments

Susie at This Is Me Now 3rd February 2017 - 10:03 am

Congratulations on your engagement! I don’t have experience of it but I would imagine people who judge don’t know the full story. Those who do can see how brave single parents can be. #FortheloveofBLOG

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Mrs Mummy Harris 1st February 2017 - 4:14 pm

congratulations lovely!!! I got married and had a baby afterwards but i come from a divorced family and my stepdad took on three kids aged 18 months to 6 years,
I like to think it doesnt matter nowadays so much about whether babies come before or after marriage just as long as the child is brought up in a happy home whether thats by a single parent or a whole bunch or parents #fortheloveofBLOG

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From Day Dot 31st January 2017 - 8:40 pm

Fab post. I can’t believe people ask your partner why he ‘chose’ someone with a child. It’s outrageous! Congratulations on your engagement and all the best for your future with your new family #fortheloveofblog

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Abi - Something About Baby 31st January 2017 - 3:25 pm

Congratulations! I can’t imagine how tough it is being a single mum, but I’m glad you have now found happiness. It is so true what you said at the end – your partner now has two people to love him instead of one. And love is, after all, what matters most #fortheloveofBLOG

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Angela Watling 30th January 2017 - 3:18 pm

A lovely post and so pleased you have found happiness in whatever your life has given you. Nobody has the right to judge you for your situation, whatever it may be. Wishing you all the best for your future! #fortheloveofBLOG

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Kirsty - Winnettes 30th January 2017 - 1:43 pm

Congratulations! I’m glad you have found your happy. I don’t think you should stay in a relationship just for ‘the kids’ I think that yes a child deserves a family but if that family is just you then why is that a problem? They just need love. Being part of an unhappy family would be far worse (or so I think). Your relationship status doesn’t reflect on your mothering abilities! I am happily married, I was married when we had the girls and as much as they put a huge strain on our marriage (because that is what babies do!) we survived stronger than before and we try very hard to remember that our marriage is a separate part of us from the parenting side. We ensure we take some time for us on a regular basis. I wish you all the happiness Xx
#fortheloveofBLOG

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Cherry - The Newby Tribe 30th January 2017 - 12:12 pm

A lovely post and congratulations with the wedding! fortheloveofblog

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RachelSwirl 29th January 2017 - 10:29 pm

Each family is different and marriage is certainly not an expected these days, good luck with the wedding x

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Steph McGee 29th January 2017 - 9:30 pm

Beautiful. Congratulations to all of you! I fell for a guy who didn’t want to share a mortgage, didn’t want marriage, didn’t want kids and definitely didn’t want pets. Guess how that went?! Chickens and a pig are the only things still on my to-do list…

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mainy - myrealfairy 29th January 2017 - 1:44 pm

Congratulations! What brilliant news, enjoy all the lovely fuzzy emotions which comes with this time:)
Mainy
#fortheloveofBLOG

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Jaki 29th January 2017 - 11:50 am

Brilliant post. #fortheloveofBLOG

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Alana - Burnished Chaos 29th January 2017 - 7:02 am

Congratulations. Family is about love not numbers or biology. I was 6 when my parents met, both with two kids each from previous relationships. When I was 8, since I hadn’t had any contact with my biological father for years and no one actually knew where he was (even the courts couldn’t find him), my dad adopted me. It certainly wasn’t a conventional family, but it was one built on love and that’s all we needed x
#fortheloveofBLOG

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Left Back 29th January 2017 - 8:44 am

Congratulations a very thought provoking piece. #fortheloveofblog

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Sam - StressyMama 28th January 2017 - 10:03 pm

Love this post. Well done you. It’s the 21st century and families come in all shapes and sizes. I sometimes feel guilty because me and my fella aren’t married but then I think screw it, we don’t need a piece of paper to tell us that we are a ‘proper’ family. We are happy as we are. As long as my daughter is happy and can see that we are happy together, and as long as all the other children are happy and can see that their parents/step-parents/guardians etc are happy then surely that is the only thing that matters. Old fashioned beliefs and values have no place in this century. Big up to all the families – especially all the ones that feel like they are being judged. #fortheloveofBLOG

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Louise - Mummy Miller 28th January 2017 - 9:59 pm

It’s a shame there’s still so much stigma about single parenting, I think single parents should be commended because it’s bloody hard doing it with two people let alone one! #fortheloveofBLOG

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Lydia C. Lee 28th January 2017 - 9:47 pm

I find that totally backward that people judge or question your partner. How weird. Do you live in a small town? I’d be amazed if anyone thought anything of anyone being a single parent. It’s like stay at home dads, it’s just a thing these days and probably a good 20% of the population (that are parents of little kids). I imagine single parents are higher? 25-35%? It’s just life, isn’t it? It doesn’t always work out how we plan. But congratulations on getting engaged. How exciting. #FortheloveoifBLOG

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Beth 28th January 2017 - 9:25 pm

Fantastic post. And congratulations on your engagement! Life can take some unexpected turns but what matters is that it has brought you to now, when you and your son, and your fiancee are happy. I went with baby in the baby carriage first too 🙂

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Musing Mum 28th January 2017 - 9:24 pm

Hilarious and touching post. Parenting isn’t picture-perfect, and it sure as hell isn’t easy!
Huge congrats on the upcoming wedding! x
#fortheloveofBLOG

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Emma 28th January 2017 - 8:47 pm

A great honest post. Everyone deserves to be happy, and if leaving was what you needed then good on you for doing it. Congratulations on your engagement 🙂 ! #fortheloveofBLOG

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Chloe 28th January 2017 - 8:33 pm

Beautiful post – my husband took me on when I already had my first child. You struck gold. #fortheloveofblog

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Anna 28th January 2017 - 7:56 pm

Congratulations!
While I don’t think marital status is important when bringing up children I PERSONALLY feel that people judge me for having a different surname to my children and having a ‘boyfriend’.
Life is too short to stay in an unhappy relationship just to please others.
You were fab as a single mother, now you’ve got a partner who loves you and baby with all his heart, you’re in a happy place. You are winning 🙂 Enjoy your moment, and your snicker #fortheloveofblog

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Ali Duke 28th January 2017 - 5:27 pm

I personally don’t think it matters whether you are married or not. What matters is that you love and care for each other. If the love is not there, why carry on?
#fortheloveofBLOG

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Fancy 28th January 2017 - 4:01 pm

I don’t see a right or wrong way. I am married and we are both with our girls a lot yet I feel exposed all the time. It is hard no matter what! #fortheloveofBLOG

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kristin mccarthy 28th January 2017 - 4:00 pm

Raw, honest and beautiful.

Loved reading this.

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Peachy and her Mommy 28th January 2017 - 3:39 pm

The concept of family is changing but, as most of us know, change takes time. WIll you forever wear the mark of the woman who had a baby out of wedlock? For someone people, yes. That is what they will see. It’s unfortunate but it’s true and you already knew that. But change is happening and it’s doing so because of people like you. Those who challenge the notion of what a family looks like. Will change happen fast enough for you to one day feel completely unjudged? Probably not. But at some point in the future there will be a single mother who is supported, loved, and accepted for the choices she makes. Her journey will be much easier than yours because people like you paved the way. #fortheloveofBLOG

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kerry 28th January 2017 - 3:08 pm

Great post!! sounds like your family life is amazing and its only just going to get better!

#fortheloveofBLOG

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Tammymum 28th January 2017 - 1:30 pm

I think you made a very brave decision. I don’t think anyone takes that decision lightly and only makes it for the good of them and their family. No one deserves whispers or judgment about such a life choice that others no nothing about. My partner has a child from a previous relationship but because I think because am woman it doesn’t seem such a big deal that I embraced his family. Wrongly I might add. Yet if it were the other way around it would be all hail him for taking on someone else’s child – hmm didn’t see my comment going that way sorry. Anywho congratulations lovey amazing news and wonderful post xx #fortheloveofblog

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Squirmy Popple 28th January 2017 - 1:26 pm

Don’t worry about the people who judge you – just focus on your own happiness with the family you’ve chosen. Yes, you’re lucky to have an amazing fiancee, but he’s also lucky to have you and your son. Yay for a #tribalwedding! #fortheloveofBLOG

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Briony 28th January 2017 - 12:39 pm

Oh I have to make my friend read this. She is happily single parenting at the moment but also sure that she will never find love again. Don’t get me wrong, she’s doing great and is so happy, but I never want her to think doors are now forever shut to her and I think this post conveys exactly that. #fortheloveofBLOG

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The Mum Reviews 28th January 2017 - 10:43 am

It’s ridiculous that there is still any stigma around being a single parent. Families can be made up of any number and all sorts of individuals. The thing that counts is that there is love. Congrats on your engagement and good luck with cutting down on the Snickers (or not – they’re like peanuts which I’m pretty sure is a healthy protein). #fortheloveofBLOG

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Sinead (shinnersandthebrood.com) 28th January 2017 - 9:44 am

Such an honest post! Isn’t is insane that in this day and age there’s judgement. Single parents are my heroes. Parenting is so bloody hard and I honestly take my hat off to anyone who does the journey alone. Your ring is a beaut! 🙂 #fortheloveofBLOG

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Kelly 28th January 2017 - 9:22 am

Congratulations on your engagement! Brilliant post. I’m going to forward this to a friend who is separating from her partner (she has 2 children). I think it will be really helpful to her. #fortheloveofBLOG

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Let your light shine Mummy 28th January 2017 - 9:14 am

Congratulations. There is so much stigma around single parenting, I agree Single parents are Brave, and have to deal with so much, you need to do the right thing for you. Other people can be so judgmental, but they don’t know your situation. #fortheloveofBLOG

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biscuit please mummy 28th January 2017 - 9:09 am

Great post – I am married to the father of my kids but I still understood every word and have many friends in different situations and agree there is no one size fits all – and totally get your point about charity!

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Jane Taylor Maflingo 28th January 2017 - 8:42 am

What a thought provoking and honest read, Jade. I’m sure the questions and thoughts you raise will be popping into my head all day. There are so many ‘quotables’ in your post, The one that struck me in particular was ‘Life was juggling a hundred heavy balls and having no one to catch them except me’.

Just as ‘Home is where the heart is’, Family is where the love is’, It’a not about the ‘head count’. It’s not about the age, gender, social class, whatever…It’s about love and commitment and being on the same team…

Congratulations on your engagement!

#Fortheloveofblog

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Sarah - Mum & Mor 28th January 2017 - 8:12 am

Firstly, congratulations on your engagement! I always thought I’d end up married then possibly have kids, but I divorced my first husband and I’m now with my second. We married September last year and had our child before, in March. I don’t really care now that I had my child ‘out of wedlock’, it’s really a non-issue. Things haven’t gone how I thought they would, but they’re turning out fine considering. You can’t really be sure what is going to happen in life, no matter how much you plan.

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Harriet 27th January 2017 - 10:55 am

Yep, single Mum over here. I’m so happy you’ve found someone. Many congratulations to you. I hope to one day find a companion but not yet. I’m just focusing on my son and me and the rest will follow. Big middle finger to anyone that wants to judge us and our situations. Did them!

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Jade 27th January 2017 - 11:22 am

Its really special the time you get alone with your son 🙂 If you need a mum date (picked that description up off Till’ys blog!) I will take you out for food and booze (that was meant to sound friendly and supportive and not creepy!) xx

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Single Mum Speaks 26th January 2017 - 6:39 am

This is a beautiful post Jade. I’m so happy for you. I’m lucky that to be honest I don’t feel I’ve ever been judged for being a single mum (well maybe once, but only by a random on the bus!) but I do wonder whether I’ll ever get married. Relationships have never been my strong point, but then I am happy on my own. Best of luck and have fun planning that wedding!

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Nadine 25th January 2017 - 10:55 pm

A brilliant post Jade, thought provoking. In 2017 amazingly there is so much stigma surrounding single parenting it feels like we’re in the dark ages sometimes . But your perspective is so refreshingly modern. Your partner as I’m sure he knows is lucky to get 2-4-1 🙂

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