Lying in bed, doing my usual pre-wake up scrolling, I stopped on a post about Meghan Markle’s mother, sitting alone at the royal wedding. I’d not embraced the whole wedding fever in ways I done previously, not for any particular reason or stance, I loved that our monarchy had relaxed the rules & celebrated two people in love, our party prince and a divorced American tv star, promising to love, honour and obey in true state wedding style. Far from it, I loved it.
No, that day I had chores to do, the sun was out and my garden was in desperate need of TLC. So I declined an invited to a party to watch the whole day unfold in favour of a paint brush, washing line and taxi-ing my children around. Because that’s what single mothers do.
We put our children at the centre of our worlds and everything comes second, we prioritise to do tasks over invites when we spot an opportunity to get something done while the kids are occupied or someone offers to watch them for a few hours. You grab every opportunity as it arises to get stuff done when you don’t have a partner to share the load.
And when I read those words picking out the observation of Ragland, Meghan’s mother, sitting alone at the wedding, it struck me just how much I do alone as a single mum. But to me that wasn’t a negative, when I was married I’d turned up at plenty of occasions alone, where typically there were couples. Sometimes it was because we didn’t have childcare to watch our other children, others it was down to the simple stubbornness of my husband not wanting to go, this is where I started building the strength to do things alone, only now I don’t have the niggling sadness or anger that I shouldn’t be there alone.
I show up and support my children alone, my single mother status doesn’t even factor. I’m oblivious to the couples at parents evenings, school plays, hospital checks ups. Because just like Meghan Markle’s mum, as she sat alone in that atrium among hundreds, but alone. Just like any other mother, married / single/other, all my focus is on my child and not the eyes of those working out where my husband is and why I am alone.
Only this is where the story takes a turn; I’m rarely alone, because the day my children’s father flew out the country to start a new life alone, to find himself (because being a parent isn’t fulfilling enough?) was the day my army stepped up and filled the void he left. My supportive friends, my protective family and my patient boyfriend will all happily support me when I ask.
But it’s my mum, herself once a single parent, who knew exactly what it was like to turn up solo. Women supporting women, mothers supporting mothers. who will be there. Not because she thinks I can’t do it alone or is worried about me, she knows I’m fiercely independent and celebrates my can-do attitude, but because she wants to be there too, seeing her child do something which makes her proud.
I’m one of the lucky ones, the single parent who is ever truly alone.