I've made a few posts lately, some quite ranty, about being a single parent and the bad reputation we seem to have.
But why do I care so much? Why be bothered about the social stigma, why be bothered what people think? Why not just get my head down, and get on with my life?
Sometimes I wonder why I care so much. And then, the other day, it hit me.
When I first got pregnant, I split up with S's father before I was even 8 weeks pregnant. I remember having my booking appointment with my midwife, and literally just crying all the way through it. I knew it was a bad relationship; I knew I should stay away. The midwife agreed with me, and so did my family and friends.
But I believed my child should have two parents. I believed I should try as hard as possible to maintain at the very least a civil relationship with him, so that S was not disadvantaged in any way. I believed the two-parent model was the best, and that my unborn child needed a father.
I didn't want to be a single mother. Besides the belief I was completely incapable of raising a child alone, I didn't want to be one of those people. I didn't want to be the stereotype everyone sees when they hear those words: Single Mother.
That stigma, that belief about single parents and the way society would look at me, the way I would look at myself, is part of what kept me going back. I returned to a poisonous, dangerous, abusive relationship so many times during my pregnancy, I can't even give you an estimate of the number.
I was kicked out, banished so many times. I would leave of my own accord as many times again. I went weeks without returning calls or reading texts. I tried hard to stay away, because I knew I had a duty to keep myself and my child safe. And because, on a more fundamental level, I just plain could not cope with all the pain and drama. My pregnancy was so traumatic, I've still not been able to write about it - and anyone who has read the things I have written about will realise just how bad it must have been for me, then.
But for every time I thought "I really need to stay away," there was another thought to contradict it: "no, you need to try and make this work..."
I'm not saying that social stigma was what caused me to stay in an abusive relationship; I can't blame that on anyone else but him and me. But perhaps, if that stigma, the Daily Mail, the benefits scum, the council estate chic and all the rest of it had not been so prominent, I might have done a little better at staying away.
I know this is just a little blog but I feel I need to do as much as I can to help break down that stigma, and to make things easier for all single parents. So that maybe the next time something like this happens, the question of whether to leave an abusive relationship will not include worrying over what society will think of you.