12 December 2011

Single Mums' Stories 3 - Katy Horwood.

Continuing my series of guest blogs from other single mums, here is another prime example of a lady who defies how the media portrays us to be. Always refreshing, these stories continue to inspire and put paid to the general perception of who we are.

We welcome with open arms, the wonderfully witty Katy Horwood.

Katy, 34, writes a very funny blog - All Sweetness and Life - although, BE WARNED - there is no 'sweetness' about it. It is outrageous, laugh out loud hilarious and one of my favourite reads. She is a single mother living in the heart of London, writing about the 'strange and plentiful pitfalls' encountered navigating through her world of parenting, work and (best of all) dating. She claims she is most likely found in a bar or a sandpit. Her daughter is three and a half:

Katy Horwood (34)

I Got You Babe
I was having coffee with a friend a few days ago. We were talking about children and she was commenting on how well I had adjusted to life with a 'youngun’ around and joking about how, from being a party girl extraordinaire drinking enough Prosecco weekly to fill a bath, I suddenly became a mother (needless to say said friend is without child, you carry a melon around on your bladder for 9 months the word ‘suddenly’ does not come into the equation) I took the compliment and really appreciated her saying so.

Contrary to popular believe however I didn’tgrow up dreaming of being a single mum, far from in it fact. I wanted husbands, I wanted kids - my mother is on her 4th marriage, multi-marriages, unlike absent fathers, was not something I was unfamiliar with. Thinking back, all those many moons ago – (was I really born in the 70’s!?) it was actuallyquiet unusual for children to come from a one-parent family. There was a girlin my class who'd never met her father. I thought she was the most glamorous thing since Rita Hayworth – (her mum let her get her ears pierced at 11, to my mind that was a fair swap to never seeing your father and youth counselling once a fortnight).

And so it happens 20 years later I, too, find myself in a position where I am bringing up a daughter on my own. Her father has never been around and although it’s not probably within government guidelines and political correctness to say so I think we are doing pretty darn well without him. Naturally the footnote will always read that it is better to have 2 parents than one, and of course I wish she had a male figure in her life to nurture her, guide her and tell her off sometimes, because lets be honest that’s one of the bummers about being a lone parent – never having a break from being bad cop. But actually things could be a lo tworse, I have my beautiful, spirited, happy daughter and she has me (and a cat…do not underestimate the benefits of an animal in the house to create a ‘unit’ despite the fact that I’m sure some of the parents at her nursery think I am married to a man called whiskers).

When I found out I was pregnant and that her father would most likely not be around, suspicions that were confirmed correct from a early stage, I decided I could either have a termination and spend my 30’s waiting around for Mr Right to turn up and panicking about having a baby or accept the deal and enjoy it. And that’s just what I did. I was pregnant on my own, gave birth on my own, and from the start ,aside from the help of a few family friends occasionally (don’t believe them when they tell you you’re all in it together – you’re not!) brought her up on my own, yet because I so relished the joy of being blessed with a child it is never something I have resented or regretted.

Sadly for Government statistics I also don’t claim benefits, drink Strongbow on the street or spend my child maintenance on fags. There is no denying that us single mums get a bit of a rough ride while single dads are seen as the heroes of the playground, ‘Oh he must be widowed poor love, ……bless him, given up his job while his ball breaking wife is climbing the career ladder and is no doubt shagging the intern wink wink….. ' We are reported,(Thank you Daily Mail) to be akin to something straight out of a Charles Dickens novel, parading our sinful activities about for all to see, garters-a-show and bastard-children-a-breast!  ‘Keep away from her she’s a SINGLE MOTHER!!  Run for cover! Save yourselves! Lock upyour husbands! A flossy! A tramp!’ Well how’s this for a cat amongst the pigeons? I went into single motherhood with open eyes, I ask nothing of anyone, I enjoy every second with my child and have no regret what-so-ever about my situation. That being said I am rather partial to a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and have been known to have the odd sneaky puff at staff parties. Shucks, they’ve nailed me. NOTE TO GOVERNMENT: not all singles mums are case studies.

People often ask you ,as a single parent, how you cope and manage. Quite simply if you’ve never known any different then what’s to miss? Do I look at 2 parent families and wish I had the partnership and support? Yes of course, and I challenge anyone that says otherwise. Some elements of it I do, I would kill for someone to dealwith her bedtime once in a while when I cooked (oh OK OK, - did my nails and had a hot bath), I would love for my daughter to draw pictures at school of her happy mum and dad, and would murder a bit of sex once in a while, but whilst I don’t have a man slave to read stories to my child and service me now and again I do have a house that is happy, warm, and tension free. And isn’t that the most important thing that parents, be it on their own or as a couple, can give to a child?

My advice? Next timeyou feel like ripping your hair out because your child won’t shut up and you have no one else to cry to/talk to/ hand the child over to while you run off to the Bahamas. Stop, breathe, and remember what you are. A strong fabulous woman who is doing it on her own. Let yourself get stressed and have a weep now and again (and a large glass of wine.. what psychotherapists can’t do Threshers can) and then sit back and be proud of what you are achieving. Being two parents in one is a big deal, and it takes one hell of a woman to do it, which my friend, is exactly what you are.