Letting it go is harder than I thought it would be

I am trying not to feel bitter or resentful but I have to say, on the day that I have officially sold my house, I am failing miserably.

Why did I sell my house?  Simply because I had no choice.

My husband got himself sacked (due to being regularly arrested for drinking) within 3 months of him leaving the family home, putting himself solely on benefits.  This resulted in him only having to pay £7 a week child support – in total, not per child – leaving me to pay for our joint mortgage by myself as well as the bills, food etc.

I went back to work within a couple of weeks of him losing his job and even took on some extra jobs.  However, by April 2013, it was clear that I would have to sell for three reasons.

Firstly, I was only paying the interest on the mortgage (and only just managing that) and had no means to pay the capital.

Secondly, should my ex-husband go bankrupt, the creditors would take the house from me with 6-12 months and I would lose all equity.   With debt letters for my ex turning up regularly, it was a huge risk to stay.

Thirdly, while there was the joint mortgage, we would be financially linked and he would bring me financially down with him.

So, today, I lost my home and 19 years of being a home owner.

While I am continuing to work to pay for the rent, bills, food, clothing etc, my ex-husband is still solely on benefits and now pays me just £5.80 a week (as I have to pay the csa to collect the money from him).

Now, I am not against benefits for those who genuinely need it.  I am on benefits myself and would not even be able to pay the bills without tax credits and child benefit.  However, I can’t agree with a system that gives more money to those not working compared to those working.  And this is the case with my ex and I.

After paying for the rent, childcare and bills (water, council tax, TV licence, broadband, gas, electric, life insurance etc), I have £165 a week to buy food, diesel, clothing, bus fares, school trips etc.  I can usually just make it balance.  Bear in mind that this is £165 for 6 of us, which is the equivalent of £27.50 each.

On the other hand, my husband receives £102 a week in benefits but has no rent, council tax or bills to pay for out of this.  He just pays for his food and clothing.   No diesel as he has no car.  No school trips, school bus fares or school uniform.  That is £102 a week just for himself.  Plus he is allowed to work 16 hours a week and earn another £100 a week before it impacts on his benefits.

So, I have been forced to sell my house because my ex-husband won’t work and pay for his half of the mortgage that he is liable for.  And, while I am just making ends meet, he has enough money (and free time) to smoke, gamble and drink with on his benefits.

I will ‘Let it Go’ as they say in Frozen but for today, am feeling sad at losing something I worked hard for 19 years to have.

I know there are so many positives in my life so will focus on those rather than what someone has taken away from me.

Newly Divorced

On my facebook wall this weekend, popped up ’17 Things Only a Divorced Mom Knows’ and ’36 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Divorce’.

Having just had my decree absolute through (today!), I thought I would give them some time and read both. I soon discovered that I don’t it into the ‘typical divorced mum’ category – if there even is one – although a few points hit home.

So, here are the top 10 against my personal story of divorce:

1. It’s nothing at all like when your husband was away on business and it was nice to have the bed to yourself. That gets old. You get lonely.

I can honestly say that I have not been lonely in the last 16 months. Having 6 children makes it difficult to get a moment to myself to even consider whether I am lonely or not. And the times that I have needed an adult to talk to, I have been very fortunate to have fabulous friends to call upon.

2. You may never feel truly sure you made the right decision particularly if you have children together.
From the moment when I found out my ex-husband had hit my daughter while being so drunk in charge of our children that he needed an ambulance, I knew that I had to divorce him. The involvement with the domestic abuse unit and social services stopped any confusion as to whether I had made the right decision or not. My reflections on our divorce are whether I should have done it sooner. Probably but at least I can say with hand on heart that I gave it everything I had to make my marriage work. And I wouldn’t have Alex if it had ended sooner.

3. There is going to be an in-law situation and you won’t know how to carry on your relationship with them.
My mother-in-law and my husband’s siblings have not contacted myself or my children since we split up. Not even a birthday or Christmas card. So I definitely don’t have this problem. And my children only have half of the family they used to but the better half!

4. When your kids are sick, you are the only one home to care for them and he’s not there to ask him for help.
This one I do agree with and we have had our fair share of colds and sickness bugs in the last 16 months. It is hard when your children are sick and you have to ring up work and explain that there is nobody else to help. Or to be up all night with a sick child and get up to the others in the morning. Worse is when you are ill and the children are ill. You still have to do the shopping, cleaning and caring. But, illnesses generally pass after a short time and life, like illnesses, gets better.

5. You may notice it feels weird to still have the gifts he’s given to you over the years even if it’s something as mundane as a toaster. And you may start having nostalgia about the toaster.
Maybe I have no sentiment, but I couldn’t wait to get rid of it all. Within two weeks of him leaving there was a huge pile of items on the driveway to go to the tip and it felt great!

6. Some of your friends and family may not understand why you are getting divorced and that can be very challenging to deal with on top of dealing with divorce itself.

I can say that this certainly didn’t happen with me. Had a lot of, “I wish you had done this years ago but it wasn’t my place to say at the time.” They have all been so happy for me. And incredibly supportive.

7. You will have so much less of a say in parenting your children. And that will frustrate you.
I am the only parent with a say in how I bring up my children. I am 100% responsible and that makes me feel both relieved and pressured – if it is possible to feel both at the same time. Relief that they are not being parented by someone who has no idea about parenting yet pressured as I have all the responsibility. If my children aren’t happy or achieve in life, that will be down to me.

8. Money will always be an issue between you and your ex-spouse.

The lack of money will always be an issue from my side. The fact that he got himself sacked due to his own behaviour – which I see as choosing to leave employment – means that he is on benefits and will be for the foreseeable future. This resulted in the £400 a month CSA payments being reduced to £7 a week from August 2013. As a consequence of his life on the dole, I had to go back to work when Alex was three months old. There is only one parent financially providing and that causes a huge amount of resentment on my part. But I also know that I am the parent setting a good example and can hold my head up that I am not milking the benefit system.

9. The sting when your child says, “I want daddy!” Ouch. It’s so much worse than when you were married.

Had this one over the last year or so. Mostly from Hannah who was 4 when it happened and has no understanding of why we are no longer living together or why she can’t see her dad. Trying to explain his mental health, abusive behaviour and addictions is not fair to her. I have tried to put it into simple terms but I am not sure what she is really thinking. My older ones certainly don’t want him around. And before anyone thinks it, I have not bad-mouthed him to them. They lived with him and knew what he was like. I have not needed to say a word. He did that himself.

10. How infuriating it is to deal with “Disneyland Dad.” Everything is more fun at dad’s. It’s no problem when your kid hangs from his ceiling fan while eating candy for breakfast.

As their dad hasn’t seen them for over a year, this hasn’t been an issue. He did ask to see them via my solicitor several months ago but when I agreed (so long as he could prove he was no longer drinking), he seemed to have second thoughts. Most recently, he says that he is not ready to see them. To be honest, he probably never will be ready or will have a long list of excuses. That is fine by me. Of course, I would love a break every now and again, but I also don’t want the issues that my children will have as a result of direct contact with their dad.

So, here I am, newly divorced with 6 children. No tears over that piece of paper that has officially ended our marriage. No regrets or confusion. Instead, I feel as though a 20 year weight of looking after someone, who was at best manipulative and at worst abusive, has lifted from my shoulders and I am finally free.

Of course, it is sometimes hard to be a single mum of 6, but it is fantastic to be a divorced mum.

And I think the children are happy.

Becoming a single mum


I am a single mum with six children.

I know what certain media stereotypes that statement will create.

I hope that I can dispel them with this blog as well as having my own little outlet for the challenges and achievements of being a mum.

But first, an introductory blog.

I never wanted to be a single mum.  I don’t  know of any single mums that did set out with that intention (despite Daily Mail stories).  But I did always want to be a mum.

I met my husband when I was 17, we married when I was 18 – sounds crazy now that I think about it – and we had our first child (Michael) six months later.

We were both working and bought our first house when I was 19.  Those were the days when you could buy a house for less than £30,000.  In fact, we bought a 3 bedroom semi-detached for £27,000!  Makes me feel quite old when I think about it.

Natasha was born when I was 21, then Kaiya two years later.

It was when Kaiya was born that I decided to become a secondary school teacher, so I spent the next 5 years studying for my degree and then started my new career.  I loved it.  Life was great.  Three growing fabulous children, a great job and secure income.

But when I hit 32, I decided that I wanted another child, resulting in Hannah and then a little brother, Nathaniel two years later.

At this point, I was still teaching but also running my own Birthing and Baby business.  It was crazily busy with five children and life was up and down, but isn’t it for everyone?

Things had settled into a good pattern and a positive life/work balance when I found out that I was expecting another baby.  It was a huge surprise.  But, while one more would be more work, it wouldn’t be impossible.  The little surprise also made me re-evaluate life and I realised that I would like to be at home more especially as this would be my last baby.  So, after looking at our finances, we decided that I would cut down on work once the baby was born.

Plans don’t always go to plan though.

I don’t want to go into great detail about our split – it is far too complicated and would take you too long to read it all – so I will give a very brief outline.

In May 2013, while I was seven months pregnant, my husband got very drunk (to the point of being hospitalised) while I was working and he was looking after some of our children.  He also hit one of our daughters.  As a result, police and social services were involved in my life.  And over the following weeks, despite my husband no longer living with us, things got worse rather than better with his drinking and subsequent actions.  It was very clear that the separation was to be permanent for mine and my children’s sake.

There was no soul-searching decision to make.  After being together for 20 years, it was over.


Three weeks after my husband left and three weeks before his due date, I gave birth to Alexander – my beautiful sixth baby. Not without a bit of drama as my waters broke while the kitchen fitters were still putting in my kitchen. Dust and mess everywhere.  Fortunately, my children mucked in and we got the place cleaned before Alexander arrived.

Due to the circumstances, my husband didn’t attend the birth.  But my Mum drove 190 miles to be my birth partner.  I can’t thank her enough.  I had to stay in hospital overnight so don’t know what I would have done without her.

My Mum stayed for the first five days of Alexander’s life and it was such a special time.  It was great having her doing the washing – my least favourite job – although I had to do the cooking as that is her least favourite job.

I am not sure how I managed when she left.  I was a single mum to six children with no family around.  All I know is that I did survive.  But those early weeks are such a blur.

When Alexander was 8 weeks old, I decided it would be a good idea to spend a few days as a family in a yurt in the middle of nowhere.  Due to the constant stresses and dramas that my husband was still putting us all through, it seemed very attractive to be somewhere isolated with no phone signal or internet.  There was also no toilet or shower.  It was literally a yurt in the middle of some woods.  But it was a great break and just what we needed.


I went back to the self-employed work when Alexander was 3 months old.  I would have liked longer off but my husband had by now lost his job due to his regular court appearances for being drunk, so the only income that I had was my SMP of £136 a week plus tax credits and child benefit and that simply wasn’t going to pay the mortgage or bills.

Fast forward to today (March 2014)….

Alexander is now nine months old, I have been a single mum for ten months and in that time, we have had two family holidays, got a new pet, decorated one room, celebrated Christmas and a few birthdays.

My husband doesn’t see the children and I had to get a court injunction.

I am returning back to my teaching job next month for two days a week and have just go a new job for the other three days, working at a before and after school club.  I will still be doing my Birthing and Baby classes though as I simply love teaching these.

It has not been an easy ride but there are many positives too.  But I think I will leave that for another blog.

I never saw myself being a single mum of six children and I certainly never wanted it.  But that is my life today and I embrace it.  My only regret…not writing the last nine months down as I have forgotten so much already.