Single mom. Singlemom. The words rumbled around the back of my head like a bad taste and a poisoned drink. Single Mom. The last thing you think of when you take that pregnancy test. Single mom. The one thing I wanted to avoid, having grown up as ‘child of single mom’.
I actually like labels and boxes, I know most people don’t. But I think box-ticking is a way to identify yourself, to work out who you are and where you stand, to interact with other people and our relationship with the world we live in. But this one, I just couldn't shake the bad juju about it. Old stereotypes and New Tory-isms and the weight of my own self-loathing.
But break it down. Single Mom. Single. Mom. A mom, who is also single. Because mothers naturally come as part of a couple - yet you don't find people being labelled 'coupled-mom', 'married-mom', 'co-habiting-for-15-years-has-three-kids-and-is-wondering-when-'boyfriend'-will-finally-pop-the-question-mom', 'had-a-one-night-stand-father-didn't-want-to-know-until-after-baby-was-born-now-planning-their-wedding-mom'! See, we don't all fit neatly into boxes afterall. Me, I'd be 'fell-desperately-in-love-had-a-child-fell-more-in-love-with-baby-than-babydaddy-grew-apart-slowly-and-separated-mostly-amicably-mom'. There is no tick-box in small-mindedness that fully encompasses the story, history of all our relationships with our husbands, live-in boyfriends, wives, lesbian lovers, partners, back-alley encounters and whatever other complex situations that bring our children into the world. You can't define me in one phrase.
I'm still a mom. I have been for a couple of years and I will be forever now. That's a box I am constantly striving to define and perfect. A me-sized box. Well, me-and-my-kid sized box. And I'm single. Not in the stay-out-all-night-searching-for-mister-right-crazy-drunk-in-love kind of single anymore. More of a working-out-what-single-means-for-me-and-my-little-family kind of single. Because 'single' and 'motherhood' are not mutually exclusive for me anymore. They never will be now. Being single has changed how I mother. Being a mom has redefined what it means to be single.
I am a mom. Same as all the other moms. Unique like all the other moms. And I always want to kick-ass at it. My kid is the only one who can judge my success on that front. I am single, and I plan to be ace at that too. I don't plan on falling into stereotypes, or unwieldy boxes with no room for my emotional baggage.
And now the words echo through my body like a heart beat. Single Mom. Singlemom. SingleMom.