I feel like a fraud

 |  Parenting, Personal

I was reading Alice’s great post on the tiredness of a single mum yesterday and found myself nodding vigorously in agreement. Because I thought I knew tired when I had my first newborn; I thought I knew tired when we hit our first growth spurt; I thought I knew tired when I had a committed nursling on a nursing strike; I thought I knew tired when I had a second child who wouldn’t latch on lying down (preferring to scream allll night long) and no help during the nights – nobody to keep me upright and stop me falling over and crushing my baby.

I thought I knew tired.

But then I split from Karl and it was just me & two kids who’s little world had been rocked by suddenly losing a parent at night. Tired was working an 8 hour day, coming home, feeding the kids & doing another hellish bedtime, cleaning out 11 animals, working freelance til midnight, getting in to bed just in time for one or both kids to wake up and want to join me, finally drifting off at 1am and getting woken half an hour later with a foot in my crotch or an elbow in my face, being woken at 5:30 because it was light out and not being able to get me or the kids back to sleep. Tired is doing this night after night after night. Tired is doing all that and still having to clean the house, cook the meals, buy the groceries, pay the bills, etc.

And I get sympathy, and reassurance from other single mums, and they tell me it’ll get better. And it has… it has because I’ve knocked back my working in the evenings, starting going to bed earlier when I can, the kids are sleeping better (sometimes) and they even manage to stay in their own beds til 5:30 some nights.

But I feel like I don’t deserve the sympathy, and the reassurance. I know that there are mums out there doing this with their child(ren) night after night and they don’t have the luxury of an ex-partner who takes the kids away for a couple of nights a week. I know of mums with multiple children and no support, and no work to escape to in the day for a break or grandparents to drop the kids off with when things get really bad. I know of mums who go days between seeing another adult, who strike the postie up in conversation because they’re the only person likely to visit that day.

I have support, I have nights off, I have friends and family who’ve got my back. I have a supportive boss who can give me flexible time if I need it, who doesn’t blink when I am 10 minutes late to work because it took an hour to get one of my kids dressed and into nursery. I even have, by some miracle, found someone who accepts that I have to do all of this, that I have 2 children, that I have issues and ‘history’ and an emotional rollercoaster to ride while I mentally process the end of a lengthy relationship… and yet who still wants to be with me in what little free time I have anyway :)

So yeah, I might be a ‘single mum’ in the loosest definition of the word — that is, I’m raising 2 children in a single parent household — but I don’t feel like I deserve the nod of recognition & sympathy in aisles of Tesco, the ‘follow’ on twitter from a fellow single mum, the virtual pat on the back from a friend on Facebook messenger for doing another shitty bedtime. I don’t feel like a “single mum”, I just feel like a fraud.

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

8 comments so far

  1. Hev said:

    YOU ARE NOT A FRAUD! No matter whether you have the “support” or not, you are still a “single” Mom raising two, though lovable & adorable (& I haven’t even seen them) children that have gone through a personal trauma along with yourself. You deserve every bit of support, recognition & sympathy you get.

    I understand that there are single moms that don’t have the support you do, but, in my opinion, you are handle it very well. Doing a wonderful job if I may add also.

    Hugs, Jem. I wish I was over there to help you.

  2. Meggan said:

    Don’t play the Pain Olympics!!! If you’re tired, you’re tired! Doesn’t matter if other people have it harder. Your pain is still valid.

  3. Clem said:

    Agreed with both of the above comments. It’s a big transition for you, and no matter how much worse others may have it, you have a lot more to do and deal with than you used to! Whether you have outside support or not, you’re doing a wonderful job not only raising two small kids but getting them and yourselves through a difficult transition period.

    • Jem said:

      Thanks Clem, you’re right too. It’s just weird to feel like I need that support when other people manage without. Just got to keep ploughing on.

  4. marjo said:

    Dear Jem, I think those who manage without actually need the support too but it simply isn’t there so they can either use their last ounce of strength to plough on or fall apart. If you absolutely had to I’m sure you could do it without as well. But it is there and I’m glad to see you accepting the support. Because it is keeping you sane and helps you to be the best mum you can be to your little ones.
    So please stop comparing your feelings of tiredness to those who need to do it without a support system. Both feelings are equally real and equally valid!

  5. Alice said:

    I’ve only just seen this (only a year and a half late!) and wanted to say thank you for mentioning me. Hope you’re getting more sleep these days and NO, you definitely aren’t a fraud! xx