Wednesday, 20 March 2019
For most married women with kids, the thought of becoming a single mum is about as appealing as John McCririck — and almost as frightening.
Images of Little Britain teen single mum, Vicky Pollard, she of the 17 prams, countless baby daddies, fluoro-pink tracksuit and permanently sneery, hacked-off expression flood your mind’s eye at the mere mention of the term ‘single mum’. And then, swiftly following on from that ocular assault, you start to panic.
Where will we live? How will I manage to put deep fried turkey twizzlers on the table? And where can I get a day-glo leisure suit?
You start stacking on the excess poundage and your black/grey roots start showing almost immediately. You only tell your closest friends you’re going to get divorced — and even then in sotto voce, behind a well-manicured (for now), cupped hand.
And from that moment on, every flute of Prosecco (or pint of cider) you quaff, every portion of chips you scoff, every home highlights job you stuff up, and every cheeky cigarette you suck up merely serves to shine a judgey, bright, hideously unflattering spotlight on your new status as (cue gasp) A Single Mum.
The shame! The embarrassment! The endless, depressing Channel 5 ‘documentaries’ about single mums on benefits you’ll now view as a busman’s holiday!
It’s enough to make you want to stay in an unhappy marriage — for the sake of the kids. But then, after yet another row that’s left you silently seething, you start to wonder whether living with off-the-Richter-Scale levels of tension is good for the kids after all — because it’s certainly not making you any jollier.
And that’s when most women decide anything’s got to be better than living a lie — even being a vilified, dreaded single mum.
And so another New Single Mummy is born — an educated mum who has a job and whose ex-husband is a decent-enough chap, paying maintenance to make sure his kids are well-looked after and kept somewhat in the manner to which they may have become accustomed.
You see, being a New Single Mum is no longer just about chain-smoking bargain-basement fags while you lean on an already-broken picket fence, gassing on to your neighbour, bitching about the 15 fathers to your 20 different kids and moaning about the pathetic benefits you had to lie and cheat to get.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that — God knows we’ve all had our moments — but there’s more to being a New Single Mum in 2017 than that one-dimensional, woefully outdated stereotype suggests.
These days New Single Mums are happy about winging it on their own: doing their best for the kids while revelling in their freedom, independence and hard-won custody of the remote control.
New Single Mums don’t have to argue about parenting stuff with their clueless other halves, they don’t have to be constantly disappointed by his no-shows at kids’ concerts, they don’t have to take him into consideration when ordering a Chinese takeaway — and they don’t have to feel bad about loving (nearly) every minute of it.
I often get the warm glow of ever-so-slightly smug contentment when I spy a warring couple looking fed up and frustrated, bickering over their baby’s head about who had the least sleep last night and whose turn it is to push the pram and WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BLOODY LEARN TO CHANGE A NAPPY?
Because, as a good friend of mine so eloquently puts it, “There are millions of single mums out there — and most of them are married.”
But that’s another story…
15 September 2017
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