Words: JessicA Swanson
Photography: Krystal Neuvill
“Oh! He’s yours too?!”
“Oh, you don’t look like a mum!”
The passive judgment, as they eyeball Fin, my twelve year old son, and then glance back to Bodhi, my two year old son. Then again, it’s a look, no one else would notice. “Yes he’s mine too!” And what do you want me to look like, I think. I force a laugh.
I always wonder what people are expecting me to look like as a mother. A perfect bob, midi dress and apron, carrying a tray of freshly baked cherry bake wells? I mean, what is a mum supposed to look like these days? What is this unspoken ideal? Should I be more of a ‘mumsy mum’? Should I never feel empowered or sexy? Should I have a ‘normal’ job? Should I go to sing-along groups and baby yoga? If I don’t do that does it make me any less of a mother?
Surely if you are happy, your children are happy. It’s really important that I treat myself kindly and do things that keep me balanced as a human being and individual to insure a happy environment for my children. So, I personally feel that I need to maintain a sense of being me, on my own. I’m Me, not just a mum, I’m Me on my own and I want to still be Me on my own sometimes. I also want my children to learn a sense of independence; I think it’s important for them not to be pulling at my apron strings constantly (for want of a better phrase).
Truthfully, single motherhood can be a tricky old time. If anyone tells you any different, they are fibbing or a superwoman. As a single parent who has made the best of her situation, balancing a creative and competitive career, life and family, I can tell you this silent judgment doesn’t fall unnoticed.
Having a family that don’t fit in to peoples norms often goes unrepresented and I really want us to celebrate parenting from all sides of the coin, in each of their unique and wonderful scenarios. We should celebrate how different families can work and how they can look. Not cast a downward glare as it doesn’t fall into the the 2.5 child, white picket fence ideal that so many have.
Despite the age gap between my sons their love is so pure and real. They are brothers and they are thick as thieves. Although we all look different, you can tell we are related. They are often asked questions about their connection to each other and me; I wonder how they feel about strangers making assumptions about our relationships.
Any family, no matter the age, race, background, sexuality or religion. No matter if they are single, co-parenting or together. Stay at home parents, or parents that work. All families and all parenting styles should be celebrated as long as they have their child’s best interests at heart.
Multi racial and single parent families are everywhere. I don’t want to be pitied or looked down upon as my situation differs from your ideal. I am a strong woman and parent. I am making this work and I’m succeeding. I have two strong loving, healthy boys. Celebrate with me.
My Perfect Family.
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