Monday, 30 June 2014

Single Parent Spotlight: Hayley

The aim of these interviews is to show how AMAZING us working single parents are. I’m sick of seeing the bad press single parents get, especially because some single parents have taken the choice to live off benefits, or even worse, have children in order to get benefits, and we all seem to get tarred with the same negative brush!
I want to highlight how hard, but also how rewarding being a working single parent is, and to hear how other people in my position handle the tougher times, in the hopes I learn how to be the best parent I can be!
 
My seventh interviewee is 36-year-old Hayley, who lives in Leeds with her 7-year-old son, Zac.
 
Zac and Hayley
How old were your children when you became a single parent, and how did this come about? When my son was born I knew I could not raise him in the relationship I was in since I was married to a knob head. I loved my son so much I knew I couldn’t subject him to that, and 6 weeks later I managed to get my (then) ‘husband’ out of the house, and my single parent status became official.
What things have you found hardest as a single parent? Now my son is 7 I find it quite easy and extremely rewarding parenting him alone.  At first though, that’s another story.  Everything is hard at first (although I suspect most first time mums, single or not, find that).  I suppose the hardest thing is the guilt I feel every day,= for the crap decision I made in choosing his father.  Practically, it’s hard not to have anyone to share the responsibility, especially when they’re ill, or you want to go clothes shopping, or go dancing with the girls! 
It’s also sad not to have someone to celebrate their achievements (putting pee pee in the potty, baa-ing like a sheep, first day at school, lines in school play) and their funnies (shouting in the barbers ‘mum my willy is hard’).
What are the benefits to parenting alone, in your opinion?
My initial reaction to this question was, I get to make all the decisions, but then I think sometimes this can be a negative too.  We get to do what we want, when we want, and don’t have to consider anyone else in that respect (apart from my boss, and the bank manager, oh and our 3 cats, Beatbox the hamster and Nemo the goldfish).  Zac can sleep in my bed whenever he wants (rare – I like it alllll to myself). We’re extremely, fantastically, amazingly close (again….I suspect most mums are). I look around me and see people parenting together, and I see the mothers having to do everything I do, plus organise their partners whole entire life too.  Hell no.
Have you faced any negative judgements/stereotypes for being a single parent? If so can you share with us what happened and how it made you feel? Not that I have noticed.  Using the label ‘single mum’ does make me uncomfortable though, especially at work, as I don’t like to think that people feel they have to make concessions for me.  On the other hand, in some cases, I think concessions should be made.  Not my fault I married a twat (well, a little my fault but he tricked me!).
What sort of relationship do you have with your ex, and how easy/difficult is it to maintain for your child?  No relationship what so ever. This is hard for my son, and he does feel sad about it sometimes. I obsess over websites, and books about raising boys without men, and obsess to my friends.  But actually, I’m proud of how I raise him, and he has love, security, he’s safe, he has lots of positive male role models around him, and I’m confident he’ll grow into a lovely young man.  But for him, nothing can ease the rejection he feels by his father (sperm donor) not being around. And that’s really sad.
How much contact does the father have? None.
Does he pay maintenance? If so, how did you come to an agreement on the amount? No. The state does though.  In fact, my taxes pay me £5 a month, it just goes via the government and the CSA first.
What’s your job, and how many hours do you work per week?
I work 37 hours a week in a management position, responsible for 70ish staff, a majority of which are male ‘blue collar’ manual staff.
Who looks after your son when you’re working? How do you feel about the current childcare arrangements? I pay a child-minder, and my mum helps out once a week.  I first left Zac with this child-minder when he was 6 months old and I returned to work.  I’m very lucky to have found a friend of a friend to look after him.  Although at first I really didn’t like a total stranger looking after him, in their home, it felt really wrong.  Now, I could actually find free alternatives, but I don’t want to break that bond, he enjoys his time there, so I keep him there!  Holidays are a real struggle though as I can’t afford 5 full days of a child-minder, and the school runs nothing. 
 
 
How old was Zac when you first went back to work? How easy was it to adjust back into work? 6 months.  Easy peasy lemon squeasy.  Wish I’d gone back sooner.  I bloody (excuse me) hated maternity leave (mostly).  I was bored, lonely, skint, and I wanted to feel like me again. I felt a bit guilty leaving him at first.  But once I could see he was settled and happy with his child-minder, I was happy.  It was nice for him to be around other children too, and in a home environment. Work – I was back on it like a car bonnet, and relieved not be to be lugging around the baby bump. Although I went back a good stone heavier (conservative guestimate – I’m being kind to myself) than my pre-baby weight which was an issue to me! And I looked tired, and my hair wasn’t washed, and I smelt a bit of baby sick I suspect – nothing a squirt of Chanel didn’t solve. Hey ho.
Have you ever felt guilt by working? If so, why?  Sometimes.  When I come home, frustrated by something that’s happened at work, or tired, and I’m grumpy, and haven’t the energy to play wrestling, or lose at a board game, or have a water fight, and I see the resigned look cross Zac's face as he gets on with something on his own while I cook tea / wash up or just flop! Then I feel guilty.  But I have no option.  He once asked me why I don’t become an Avon representative.  I said why?  Turned out he’d seen an advert on the TV which said ‘ do you like make-up (YES), want to spend more time with your family….’  Broke my heart.  He knows that work is important, and that’s how we get our money, and have a nice home, and a car, and treats and holidays.  But sometimes, he just wants his mum.
What’s your view on Child /Working Tax Credits, and the cost of childcare? I don’t know about working / child tax credits, don’t get them.  However, the cost of childcare is extortionate.  When I first went back to work, I went back 3 and a half days partly due to childcare costs (but mainly so I had a good work life balance for us).  Once he started school I went back full time.  I definitely think there should be better support specifically for single parents to enable them to work.  But I don’t know how / what.
What is your work/home/social life like? Have you managed to find a good balance? If so, how?  Kind of, although sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.  Monday-Friday is dedicated to work and chores (mainly), so we have a majority of the weekend free for ‘us’ time.  However, that goes to pot if I want some time out with my friends for example, then I only get 1 quality day with him.  I’m lucky to have family that will babysit for me and have Zac overnight around once a month – and boy do I need that.  I’m also lucky to have a flexible employer who lets me start later (so I get to take Zac to school and can ‘join in’ the playground politics) and pick him up on a Friday (so we can run out going ‘wooop woooop’).  I also spread my annual leave out so during school holidays I have at least 2 extra days a week off to do fun stuff (and save on childcare costs). I also do some voluntary work for a few hours each month, and can rely on friends to watch Zac to enable me to do this. 
Are you dating again? If so, how long did it take before you were ready to date again? No. I think I could date, but I’ve not yet actually met anyone I would like to date!  7 years and counting. My friends think I’m craaaaazy.
What tips do you have for other single parents wanting to meet someone? Send them my way and I’ll vet them for you…!!
What would your top 3 tips be to a newbie single parent?  Don’t eat their leftovers, get used to peeing and showering with company, and give your children 2 things, 1 is roots the other wings.
 
If you want to take part in Single Parent Spotlight, please contact me.


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1 comment :

  1. He might have positive male role models, but there is nothing like having a good father in your life. What a shame this father was a rotter.

    ReplyDelete

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