Happy Mothers Day; Why Being a (Single) Mum isn’t easy

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Being a mum is one of the toughest jobs, and I’m not talking about the relentless cooking, cleaning, cuddling, & listening.

Bondi Beauty Founder Renae Leith-Manos talks about motherhood:

Today, on Mother’s Day, I am talking about the judgement mum’s receive and so often it is from other women, and it can be harsh and it needs to stop.

I was in Europe recently with a group of women I thought were amazing. They were global women, and each had achieved amazing things personally and professionally. Several were mothers.

Each of us went around the shared table talking about our lives, and when it came to my turn, I spoke about my gorgeous children, and my busy life travelling the world during the 50% of the year when their Dad, my ex-husband has custody. I explained I am a writer and have been for years, and have found my happy place in the world.

Everyone was a bit surprised, and lets face it, not many single mothers travel to the extent I do,  but it’s what I do and what I love doing. Why be ashamed of feeling happy?

But apparently when I left that table, the women went into a spin and according to one woman kind enough to fill me in, they “ripped me apart”. The main theme being “how can she leave her children?”  (a topic I have written about before here.)

I don’t read many mums (or dads) writing about the time they spend alone when their children are with the other parent.  I have been a single mum for 8 years, and I can tell you living your regular life without your children one week, and then with them the next (or another version of it) is one of the toughest ways to exist. It can be a living hell, really. A rollercoaster at break neck speed that keeps stopping dead still, then racing again.

I got to the point where it was too hard – and the kids and their Dad agreed. Swapping weekly with all that it entailed was too tough on all of us.

Life with children is frenetic, loud, fast and fun. Then they go, and there’s an empty silence that invades your being.

In quiet moments you can find yourself staring at a wall in a daze of confusion wondering if you have your days right and if they are possibly waiting for you after school somewhere. It seems unfathomable you were needed every minute one week, and not for a second the next. The food goes off in the fridge when they’re not there and runs out in days when they are.

So during one of those moments staring at a wall I thought about what makes me really happy within my life, and apart from my children, and my friends, the work I love doing most is writing about experiences, people, places and things.

A vision of the Qantas steward advising passengers to place their own oxygen mask on their face before helping others entered my head. My children would be better off the happier I was, I figured. So I went and did it. I dared to put my needs on the table, and to make them happen.

I changed the entire structure of my life and pushed aside the world’s limiting beliefs about who and what a mother should be, and went my own way. Four years later, I’ve never been happier and the twins are happy too.

I see them exactly the same amount of time as before, only I often travel when they are not with me. You see, I am not only a mum. I am a woman, a best friend, a colleague, and an independent human. The rest of life doesn’t stop when motherhood kicks in.

This mothers day, what makes you happy? Finding that out isn’t easy but when you do, go do it. Life’s short. And when you hear of someone else – another mum- doing things differently, take a moment to pause and reflect,  and not rush in to judge her.

I was hurt when I heard the things the women said about me, but what we say about others is typically a reflection of what is going on inside us, and what is lacking.

There are many ways to view people’s lives and decisions, and if they are happy, isn’t that all there is?

This Mother’s Day, be kind.

Happy Mothers Day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Renae Leith-Manos

CONTRIBUTOR

Renae Leith-Manos is a Sydney journalist who hangs out in Bondi. She has had a colourful media career, and spends her time writing, consulting to new businesses, running, doing yoga, swimming & cycling.
She's likes healthy eating, but thinks chocolate cake is just as important as kale chips.
She spends weekends hanging out with her gorgeous twins doing something fun in Sydney's East.

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