I have these strong thoughts about who I am and about what makes me me. I'm on this “self discovery journey” at the moment, trying to work out who and what I am. I'm deciding exactly how I want to define myself and what information I feel I have to give.
Tick boxes on forms for example. I used to tick single. Then I ticked married. And now I am supposed to tick the divorced box. But why? Why do I now have to declare that yes I was married, but that failed. Why can we not just revert back to the single box?
It's not that I'm ashamed of being divorced. In fact, I'm proud that I was married for 10 years. I don't think I married too young and that that is the reason my marriage has come to an end, because at that time marriage was right for me. I don't regret it and if it came to it yes I would do the same again.
I feel that at 30 I'm still young enough to not worry about being alone for the rest of my life. I have enough time to have some fun,
I have realised that people do notice the lack of ring on my wedding finger and I worry about their opinion when it comes to me having two children. I don't mind being a solo parent for them because they have a good relationship with their dad and one thing I was starting to notice was that we both had different parenting styles. We almost clashed over the way we wanted to talk to them, treat them and how we wanted them to act and behave. Singularly this works fine, we can do our own style of parenting but as a couple, it didn't work.
And we are both accepting of that, aware of that and we are ok with that.
One thing I am particular about, is the term “single mum”.
I hate it.
I hate that my relationship status is linked to the fact that I am a parent. Two things which to me don't need to be put together. I think as soon as you link your relationship status to being a parent it almost puts pressure on the fact that you may want a partner to eliminate the use of the word single before the word mum.
That's not the case with me.
I don't want a partner to have anything to do with my children. If I wanted a partner it would be for me. I'm strict in that I don't want anyone to meet or have anything to do with my children for a while, for a number of reasons.
I want someone to get to know me, as me. Not as a parent. I want my own time to get to know someone to, and for us to use time when the boys are at their dads to concentrate on each other rather than having someone to join in with the “dinner, bath and bed” routine.
I think the term “single mum” can put men off and when it comes to talking to men I don't always mention straight off that I have children. This is when I talk to men on dating sites of course, because I see it the same as if I was talking to a guy in a pub, or if I met someone at work or in the supermarket. My opening conversation wouldn't be “Hi, I'm Lauren. I'm a single mum”. If someone asked me if I was single I wouldn't follow it up with “Yes, a single mum”.
It's not that I would or do keep my boys as a secret, but I am my own person without them too and I want people to know that. And so far I've found it to be ok.
I mention after a while of talking to someone that I have children and some are fine with it and some will say “it's not ideal but I really like talking to you” and I feel in that way I have been successful. It doesn't put them off and although it doesn't turn into a relationship it still keeps conversation going and things will drift apart because of other things.
I found that on my Instagram bio, Twitter bio and so on that I almost felt I had to write “Single mum” because that’s the label that is put on me. And every time I read it it made me angry. I didn't want to use this label or status just because other people want to put that on me. For six years I had the label of “stay at home mum” or “full time mum” and I didn't like it.
Full time mum just didn't make sense to me because now, as a working mum, does that make me part time? No.
Stay at home mum made me feel as though I don't do anything. Like I am this mum who stays at home. But that wasn't me. Being a mum is a job in itself. And the term “stay at home” almost made it feel like it was easy. I get to sit at home and watch This Morning, eat biscuits, drink tea, nap if I want, and play with my child.
That's not what it is like.
So I was determined to not have this other status/label that people want to put on me.
So I changed it.
I am a single woman.
I am a mum.
These are three separate parts of my life and they are connected because they are all related to me, but they don't need to be connected when it comes to my status.
“Lauren. 30. Single working mum”.
The image of that, to me, is one of chaos. One of desperation.
And I don't want that image.
As a single woman I find that my image is something I am trying my best to focus on and to even learn myself. What kind of image do I want, how do I want to portray myself.
And by bringing other elements into that…of being a mum, having a job, just makes it even harder and puts more pressure on.
In the grand scheme of things, labels and statuses other people put on me doesn't really matter, and neither does the box that I have to tick on forms.
My own identity, knowing who I am and who I want to be is what counts.