When the fuck did I become the poster girl for single motherhood? Two girlfriends who are having a rocky time with their husbands are now singing the praises of striking out alone to raise their children. I’ve told them it’s not a journey I’d advocate but they’re not listening! So what do I say to these crazy ladies? Single Mum
Because we can never really know what goes on inside other people’s marriages, this is a hard call. If your girlfriends are dealing with abuse, fidelity issues or addiction issues, for example, then yes – single motherhood probably looks super appealing. Trouble is, not everyone is honest about why they really want to activate their get-out clause, and maybe your frustrations stem from the fact that their lives, even with annoyances, look far easier than yours at the end of the day. Or maybe they’re just venting (I reckon most of us who’ve been through rocky times in relationships find it soothing – even temporarily – to imagine what it might be like to clean-slate it and start again, with no actual intention to leave).
If these women really are at the crossroads, nothing you can say will make a lick of difference and of course, there’s a lot to be said for not raising kids in an unhappy or volatile environment. But the stats are interesting: while 1 in 5 couples split by the time their youngest is 5, 37 percent of people regret their divorce 5 years later – and 40 percent believe it could have been avoided if they’d done things differently, according to Relationships Australia. If there are still a lot of good days and there’s still love there, these stats make a pretty good case for re-negotiation, compromise (and more compromise) and in dire, blinkered situations, heading to a counsellor’s couch to thrash it out with a third party.
I think all you can do is trot out a verbal (or pre-prepared hard copy version stashed in your handbag) of your single motherhood pros and cons list. To your mind, there may not be a lot of pros. It may all be cons. And true, single motherhood may be easier for some women than others. So all you can do, really, is share your experiences, let the chips fall where they may, and be ready with a shoulder if they do decide they’re better off striking out alone. Because you know, don’t you, that you’ll be the first one they call.
Love, reality chick
Readers – help! Are you a single mum? If an unhappily married friend told you she was considering taking her kids and leaving her partner, what are the main things you’d really want her to consider first?