The Stigma of the Single Mum

Saturday, 18 August 2018

When you are young parent a lot of things are assumed about you, mostly that you were stupid, irresponsible, and reckless, and with that that you are single. Being single and a parent is a sign of immaturity. Being in a relationship decent enough to survive having, or even to plan to have, a child is seen to be beyond the reach of youth. 

The idea is that being a single mother is somehow shameful, and the fact that shame is placed at the door of the mother (when so often in fact it is the fault of the father, cough) is wildly unfair. 

Being a single mother is incredibly difficult and there are very few that choose to go down this route, it’s not that you don’t want a relationship, it’s that you don’t want a shitty relationship, or it’s that time and circumstance has not permitted one that you see to be fit.

So what is the stigma, how do we all perpetuate it, myself included, and how do we begin to change our mindset regarding that in the modern age of parenting and motherhood. 

The Philosophy Of Slimming World

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

When I posted this photo on the left I said how it was probably the only photograph of me in shorts since I was a child because I actually just never owned any. I thought, first, my thighs were too fat, and then I registered that I actually don't have ankles at all (cankles, hi), and then it was that my knees were too fat. It wasn't a case of me thinking I was like ugly fat overall, I was generally okay with my size. It was just the pesky legs that stopped me from, well, a lot. I blamed the flat feet (they're pancake flat!)

I have lost 8kg. It's not a huge amount, certainly not going to get me on the cover of any magazines, but it's significant. I have polycyclic ovaries, and I used to have the syndrome that accompanied. This is an imbalance in hormones which is difficult to address, for many the resolution is to lose weight which is all well and good except for the fact that PCOS hinders your ability to lose weight greatly, and makes it very easy to put it on. In my worst times I was going to the gym and working out for an hour minimum a day, cutting calories at every turn, and I did not lose a pound. Not a single one. My work at the time depended on looking good and the longer I don't tone or lose the harder that was because my confidence plummeted. 

I have said as of late that it is not my size that I am concerned with, I am fully aware that I am in a position where I can buy clothes that fit in every shop I go to. My issue was with being comfortable, and more specifically being comfortable in summer. I was tired of sweating so much, of feeling so tired and run down, of avoiding certain clothes because I didn't feel good in them. It's easy to tell someone not to mind it but that doesn't solve the problem. One much change, inside, mentally and emotionally.

So onto Slimming World. 

I have tried every diet known to man. At 17 I dropped to 44kg with endless exercise and near on starvation, at 18 I gained everything back and then some, I did diet after diet. Most recently I tried Keto which I had heard was good for PCOS and breaking through the plateaus. It worked for a little while, and then I fell pregnant with Ezra. 

Two babies in two years is tough on the body, and I am incredibly lucky in that despite my eating and the hormonal changes I did not gain any weight from the pregnancies. But this left me at the point I'd started at where I wasn't very comfortable anyway. 

Exercise has always been a point of contention with me. I have joint hyperflexibility which affects my ability to do things - not enough to be considered a disability mind you. It means my joints bend too far in the direction they shouldn't, it affects my ankles, knees and hips mostly, which in turn affects my back and neck. Running and the like was absolutely out of the question, as I could barely even walk ten minutes. I took advantage of being postpartum and signed myself up for Pilates classes which due to being made for new mums were gentler and more relaxed. My strength improved but I didn't lose weight etc.

I had heard of Slimming World before. It came alongside weight watchers. The newer, fresher, younger sister. It allows unlimited pasta and potatoes etc. This, I thought, is wild. They definitely did not see me coming. Did they not know how much pasta I could eat and how often??? I laughed in the face of their infinite pasta! Come at me.

However, what I didn't realise was that there was much more to it than that. My life and relationship with food boiled down to denial and excess. To diet and to lose weight was to deny. Slimming World, I believe, aims to change that and harbour a healthy attitude to food. It was not that I was not allowed or that I shouldn't have something, it was that I should be sensible. 

Pasta is an easy food to make, an easy base for meals, and so with dieting's obsession with cutting carbs it made dieting just a chore. Too much preparation and too much time, especially with a baby. I didn't have the patience. I could always start a diet well but it would eventually devolve into toast, or pasta with cheese on it. 

What Slimming World has done has removed the element of guilt. Guilt is the common denominator of dieting, rather than helping one to change their thinking around food is it installing a sense of guilt when you eat something that you “shouldn’t” be eating. At the moment this is focused on carbohydrates, and sweet things. The problem with guilt is that it often doesn’t stop you doing things, it just makes you do things in secret. 

There are, of course, benefits to this, in terms of short-term weight loss. But Slimming World, I think, aims to help people to create a life-long habit of choosing foods that are alright. I don’t think it aims for us to make perfect choices for every single meal, which is generally unrealistic (at least it is for me) but its aim is to make sure we don’t make bad choices for every meal.

As far as I am aware, I have not really denied myself anything. I have eaten my fair share of meals with little to no vegetables in them (save for the tomatoes in the sauce). Today, for dinner, I had pasta and pesto, I threw some salad leaves on the side but to be totally honest there was much more pasta. I have also had days out where I have simply forgotten that I’m supposed to be “dieting” so much it hasn’t felt like a diet. I have not paid for any books or memberships, I have simply got the general rules down: low fat, pasta is ok, potatoes are ok, high fats like cheese and such in moderation are “healthy extras” and don’t eat into your “syns”, “syns” are reserved for things generally considered to be junk food. Ascribing labels to things can be both a benefit and to our detriment. To me, a benefit, because it feels like I’m a part of something, it feels good having some kind of rules to stick to and to remind myself of.

I'm not entirely sure when I started on this, but I've not been doing it long and I definitely haven't been strict. I don't cook on weekends, usually, and so whoever cooks for me loads up on the vegetable oil for the roasties. Pizza on a Saturday is almost a law (followed by leftovers for lunch on Sunday).

I started at 74kg, and I am now 66kg. Like I said, it isn’t much, but with everything in mind I think it’s great. It’s more weight than I have lost in eight years. I have felt the difference in the fit of my clothes, in my being comfortable in my clothes, and being comfortable in this disgusting heat. I feel better. 

TOMMY'S – I won't relax until I have the baby home in my arms

Sunday, 29 July 2018

I won't relax until I have the baby home in my arms

It’s hard to give up so completely, even if you want to. In reality, hope is stronger.

Supporter Story by Farrah, 
Had I a pound for the times I'd heard that, I’d be rich. Miscarriage is common, stillbirth a tragic event but not unheard of. When your baby has been born and you are back in the comfort of your own home, unless you are told otherwise, you have nothing to worry about. Out of the danger zone. Now, you can breathe, and now you are safe.
I watch on. I watch those around me and I think, “But even then you won’t relax,” because they won’t, whether the deaths of babies are on their radar or not.

Sharing Raw Loss

Friday, 6 July 2018

I share, I believe, quite openly about my losses. I also believe that words very much have a sort of healing power, and ridding yourself of them can be therapeutic. However, sharing raw loss, sharing thoughts and feelings so soon after a loss, I believe, can have a detrimental effect. 

In the first weeks after I lose Ezra I wrote a lot. I wrote constantly. It was a way for me to get down in black and white what I was feeling, to get it out of myself and launch it into the world, but it was less about into the world and more about out of me. I had thoughts and I had feelings and experiences that I didn’t want to have, and by putting it down I could see what was going on and I work out what it was I was feeling and fuck it off. I could stop thinking about that particular thing because by the time I’d worked through it enough to write coherently about it it was done with.

I did not get a huge amount of responses to these things and, in all honesty, responses were not what I wanted. Responses and interaction and understanding were not what I wanted. I wanted relief. 


Friday, 8 June 2018

Let's start this with one fact. A very true fact, not a "off the internet" fact, but an indisputable, black and white fact:


Suffocation is death via asphyxiation. Blankets, pillows, clothes, muslin, duvets, caught under a parent, between bed and wall, and so on. This kind of death is preventable, that much should be common sense to everyone. Don't use blankets and nobody will suffocate underneath one, don't put baby in your bed and you can't roll over onto them, don't use a pillow and it can't cover their face, don't use a sleeping bag that's too big and they won't get stuck in it.

SIDS is not preventable. I know that we talk about the "risks of SIDS" being bed sharing and so on, as if by not doing those you are safe, but that's not the case.

Being Away.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Fair Oak Farm
Fair Oak Farm
Our first holiday!

I was so kindly invited to stay at Fair Oak Farm – thanks to Hanna for arranging.  However, it took me a relatively long time to say yes. I mean, let's face it, it was two nights away in a really lovely country estate. Acres of land, unspoiled countryside, a farmhouse, a cinema, a bar. It sounds great, doesn't it? It's a perfect venue for a party or a wedding.

We stayed in the farmhouse, which had five bedrooms, sleeps twelve or so. We were in the attic room with a friend of mine, which had a double bed and an adjoining room with a small double – perfect for a small family with a child. There was also two more double rooms, and two more family rooms. There's a couple of treehouses, a few single shepherds barn things. Basically, there's a lot of accommodation.

As many of you will have read, we were not at home when Ezra passed away, he and I were at my mum's house. The idea of being away from our usual environment gave me the willies. I realise that the two things were unrelated but there is never a moment where doubt doesn't cross my mind, I wonder if what happened would have happened if we'd just stayed home, if I had done one thing instead of another.

WOKEMAMAS - Why you really need to just Not Care.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

I’m a single parent. And I’m twenty-four. This always seems to be a bit of a surprise to people because I seem to have my head above water.
People often comment on how laid back I am, especially about things to do with parenting. The fact of the matter is that there is so much out there to make a mother feel guilty about her choices, which is unsurprising.
We, as women, are judged on every aspect of our lives: if we wear makeup, if we don’t, if we are skinny, or fat, or in the middle, if we’re happy with ourselves, if we’re critical of ourselves. Everything is judged.
There lies a problem, however, in parenting. Because what you’re doing affects a child and so the judgment is harsher and can absolutely make you feel like the pits.
I don’t like to toot my own horn, but after a bachelors degree, three babies, two births, one funeral, and one miscarriage, I’ve got laissez-faire down to an art. And I’m going to tell you how to get there too.