The scariest thing about becoming a single mother was losing myself in the midst of all the madness. Managing the brunt of the responsibility for my children made it difficult for me to know who I was outside of motherhood. I had two children depending on me for all that I could possibly give, whilst I diminished by the day. My wardrobe was out of style, my body out of shape, my face etched with marks and a non-existent social life. I was way too burnt out to care about my appearance, and far too tired for exercise or to find time for my friends. My soul was weak.
Prior to my situation, I was living my dream as an actress. I wanted to be an actress ever since I could remember and when it was just my daughter and I, I had time to pursue those ambitions. Trying to juggle my acting career after my son was born became virtually impossible for me. My daughter was about to start secondary school and I had my son with me pretty much all the time. I was working as a main actress on a drama series when I made the decision to quit acting. It literally killed me to know I was giving up on something that I wanted so much, that I had worked so hard for, but the reality was I had no fight left in me to keep the aspiration alive. In all honesty I had nothing; I barely had the confidence to step out onto the street, much less on set. I decided I would go back to my day job as a Housing Officer, once my maternity leave had ended, and get some financial security for my children instead. Times were hard and a stable job seemed like the best option.
When my ex-partner abandoned his responsibilities as a father, he also abandoned his financial commitment to the home we once shared and I was faced with an array of debt. Then my workplace dropped the bombshell that my part-time position had been terminated and I would have to reapply for a full-time post. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried to better my situation the odds were stacked against me. I was at a really low point in my life; I was constantly beating myself up about the mess I was in and I didn’t know where I was heading.
Although things were difficult, I was enjoying being a mother and experiencing the many joys and blessings that come with it. I was torn between the decisions to either provide a steady upbringing or financial security for my children. Finding a balance between home life and work commitments as a single parent is one of the hardest things to juggle and unless you are in that situation you will never really understand it. It’s easy to pass judgement as an outsider and say that single mothers need to get jobs, but then what happens to the children who are left to be raised by child-minders or after school clubs? I know there are millions of single mothers out there who have chosen the path of working a full-time job, and many are doing a brilliant job of juggling the two. However, I wanted to be there for my children and give them the right input for the milestones they would reach in their lives.
I felt anxious when I turned down the offer at my workplace to take on the full-time role. I was financially challenged and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I kept questioning whether or not I had made the right decision. To make matters worse, if I had asked my ex-partner for financial support he would have told me to get off my arse and get a job, knowing full well that he wouldn’t take care of his child if I did. Being 31 and a single mother to two children with no plan for our future made me feel stuck. For the first time in my life I felt lost, lost in the repetition of school runs, changing nappies, making dinner, washing clothes, homework, bath times and reading bedtime stories – with zero time for me.
It wasn’t until my sister gave me a film called ‘The Shift’ by Dr Wayne Dyers that things started to turn around for me. I watched the film in awe; it was as if it were speaking to my soul. It taught me about purpose and pursuing your dreams outside of being a mother. It brought me back to a time before I had children and the love I once had for writing. I remembered how it made me feel when I used to write, how happy and at peace I was.
From that point on my journey to success began.
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at first, but I knew that despite my situation, I wanted to make something of my life. I eagerly enrolled on a BA (Hons) Housing Management course, not knowing how or when I would find the time to study within my rigid routine that already left me worn out by the end of each day. But in the same breath it was a chance for me to start living again, a chance for me to step into the next chapter of my life. It was time for me to dream again.
The day I walked into the Housing Management course, I knew straight away that I had made the wrong decision. My heart sunk, and Dr Wayne Dyers’ voice popped into my head, ‘Don’t die with your music still in you,’ he said. ‘Housing is not my purpose so what am I doing here’, I thought, and I got up and left. Although I was afraid of messing up my opportunity, it was the first time in a long time that I felt in control of my life. I took courage from that and went back to my first love – writing.
Now, almost four years on, I sit here writing this blog sharing my single-parent experiences with you, in the hope that my story will inspire other single mothers to go after their dreams and live their purpose outside of motherhood. I won’t sit here and say that my journey so far has been a walk in the park, because believe me, it has been far from easy. I’ve had many sleepless nights, been overwhelmed with stress and worry, and there are days when I lose all motivation and want to quit my quest for success. Having two children dependant on me and meeting their needs before anything else often makes my progress a little slower, but I appreciate that every step takes me a little closer to my dream. My dream to inspire and empower others through written context and visual performance.
Other women who have recently become single mothers have reached out asking how I got to where I am today. My advice would be to accept your situation and be honest with yourself about it. It is okay to still be madly in love with the man you created a life with, even though he rejects you and his child. It is fine to feel burdened, tired, unworthy and angry at the world. It is totally understandable for you to hate him and to be jealous of his new girlfriend… But it is not acceptable for you to remain lost within the mess. It is not okay to give up on a life for yourself outside of motherhood.
You did not set out to be a single parent. You were brought on this Earth to be the best that you can be… and that has not changed.
Written by Aysha Scott
Edited by Shayanne Campbell