Sometimes losing your voice forces you to find it. When I became a mum words begged to come out of me and I penned my first parenting piece – not surprisingly – about being a first time mum. It was the first time I’d written something personal that was intended for others’ eyes. When I became a single mum, I too wrote a piece about that. This was all before I had my blog. I didn’t consider setting up my own blog at the time because, well, I’d written what I had to say so surely that was that. I just wanted to find some people to share it for me. Thankfully though, of the people I reached out to one was the lovely Abi from Like Real Life. She must have seen something in my writing because I remember her telling me, you have so much to say. It turns out she was right. According to the dashboard on my blog I have in fact published 115 blog posts since I began. There are almost that many in draft form too, although most of them are unlikely to see the light of day.
I keep expecting that at some point I will run out of things to say. Hopefully not for a little while longer though. In 2017 I’ve been more of a one post a week woman, not like my two a week postings at the height of the chaos of suffering PTSD, having a breakdown and dealing with a narcissistic ex. Thankfully, life has become calmer this year and my focus has been less on lamenting being a single mum and more about trying to do it again. After seeing other writers compile a round up of their work this year, I felt inspired to do one too – so here it is.
At the start of the year, celebrating the January peak in divorce claims I wrote all about that. Just incase there were any women out there who were fearful of single parenting after divorce I also wrote about all the best bits of being a single parent. And no, this wasn’t sarcasm, there really are a lot of good bits.
Living with a three year old whose inquisitive nature meant every conversation involved at least 29 why’s I penned this piece all about the why phase.
While last year I’d been trying to date, by the end of 2016 I was starting to think it was all too difficult. After writing this piece on the ups and downs of single parenting dating I have to say I’ve not been on another date since.
Ever the eclectic writer, there were a couple of posts about gender stereotypes and my son’s desire to quash them in one fell swoop. Whilst I’m not really one for pretty skirts myself, I am proud of my son for choosing to be himself despite it being clearly ‘different’ to the ‘norm’ and weathering the negative comments that have come his way from kiddies and adults alike. Sadly these comments have only gotten more vocal throughout the year, but – so far – my son’s will remains stronger than them all.
Although this year my mental health has got better, thanks in the main to a wonderful counsellor and also the help of some meds, things are still challenging. The negative voices are never too far away and if anything the end of the year saw them getting louder again. I wrote this piece about feeling that everyone hates me at the beginning of the year, but it’s a frequent feeling when I start to slip downwards. One person who has been there for me throughout though, is my mum. And one person who has continued to bring fresh challenges to me and my son, is the unwanted guest.
It was this year that I started thinking about having another child, this time via donor conception. Since deciding that this was my new plan B there’s been many a post on this topic. Choosing a Clinic. Single mum by choice: The Process. Fertility Treatment Implications Counselling. Choosing a Sperm Donor. Preparing for insemination. Booking the IUI appointment. IUI insemination day. Solo Mum Waiting To Take a Pregnancy Test. Still Waiting To Take The Pregnancy Test. Trying Again: Donor Conception. Planning Fertility Treatment: The Wobble. Planning Your Second Round of Fertility Treatment. Fertility Treatment the Second Go, and the last one I posted this year on the topic, Third Time Unlucky. What I had imagined would be a relatively quick process, ended up taking over my life this year. However, as always, writing about it has helped to process my emotions and I’ve ‘met’ some amazing women who have reached out to me to share their own experiences.
Most of my writing takes me time to get out. The first draft often comes tumbling in a hurry, words snatched out on a bus or as my son sleeps beside me. A quick and messy therapy session with me and the keys. When I get the time I then sit and review and edit until the piece is ready. The more personal topics often take a while for me to digest before I’m sure I’ve written something I’m comfortable pressing publish on. This means it’s a rare occasion that I write something topical. However I did manage a piece in response to the TV documentary Rio Ferdinand did on being mum and dad.
Like most parents, feelings of failure as a mother are never far away. Although, interestingly they are usually triggered by others reactions to me and my son, rather than my own opinions of us. I wish it weren’t like that, after all none of us can really control our kids, can we?
Before my son was two, and flights were free, we travelled quite a bit. There was (unfortunately) very little of that this year, but I did pen a post about our Easter trip.
In ‘real’ life I’m quite political, but I don’t cover that much in my blog. There were a number of posts this year though when current events were just too much to bear. Racism – an ever present issue felt even more pressing given the global political climate. I went campaigning with my son, carrying on a tradition that my parents started with me and my siblings when we were young (although probably not three!). And, of course as a Londoner, how could I not comment on the horrendous events of Grenfell Tower.
There was big change in the middle of the year and emotions were high when my son and I finally moved out of the flat where we had lived with his father. It’s taken me a long time to realise quite how destructive and damaging that relationship was to me. The picture of the happily married couple whilst not deliberately fake, if it ever did exist had well and truly ended long before my son was born.
Forever annoyed by the so called research into single parents, I wrote my own interpretation of some of the recent ‘findings’ suggesting a few alternative factors which might be at play. Unfortunately it’s yet to be picked up by the mainstream media.
The #metoo campaign hit me hard and I wrote a little about it here. It’s sad to see that in the UK not much change seems to have come from it, but in other countries (such as Sweden) I’ve heard the campaign has made a real difference so I live in hope that things will follow suit here eventually.
Towards the end of the year I lightened the mood a little with my tips for engaging toddlers with household chores.
And finally, the year would not have been complete without a post on Christmas and single mums. This time I went for a helpful Christmas gift guide. I hope lots of you woke up to some of the presents in that list on Christmas morning.
So, until next year. That’s all from me folks. I hope you enjoy reading my writing as much as I enjoy writing it. If you know any other single mums, or indeed anyone else who you think might like my meandering thoughts, please do share my blog with them.
If you like the look of my eclectic musings from this year, you can keep up to date with my latest blog posts by subscribing online at Ellamental Mama, or liking me on facebook. You can also follow me on twitter @EllamentalMama