Years ago, when I first went on a holiday with my baby daughter, my sister-in-law, also a mother, warned: “The thing you have to remember about holidays as a mother, Margie, is that it’s not really a holiday: it’s just transporting the chaos to a different location, and one where you don’t have all your stuff or support networks to help you.”
I can practically feel every mother reading this nodding their heads in solemn agreement. And I know every single mother is thinking, yep, now multiply that by 100.
As a single mother by choice, I have only ever holidayed with my kids as a single mother – and they have been some of the best times of my life, and also of my kids’ lives. All the fun times, all the challenging moments, have contributed to memories that will last my lifetime and have helped create a wonderful childhood for my daughters.
But for single mothers, holidays can also be a whole lot of hard work. There’s the organising beforehand, and absolutely no downtime during the holiday, as well as the shouldering of the entire financial cost. Totally worth it, but for me, holidays with the kids happen once or twice a year. Weekends aways sometime seem hardly worth the effort or the money.
Last year I created a bit of a storm on CSMC’s Single Mothers Stronger Together Facebook group when I posted about visiting Sovereign Hill’s Winter Wonderlights Festival. It was an incredible event, where Sovereign Hill was transformed into a massive lightshow, with images and lights projected on all the buildings. It was a Christmas in July festival, complete with machine-generated snow, carolers, and Christmas decorations adorning the streets.
What really got single mums talking on the Facebook page was the fact that Sovereign Hill offered single parent family tickets. It had always annoyed me that at events two-parent families are offered discounted tickets, but not single mother families. Sovereign Hill’s offering of discounted tickets for single parent families didn’t just represent a cost saving, it was recognition that single mother families deserve the same dignity and advantages of two-parent families.
So, when tickets went on sale for this year’s Winter Wonderlights Festival, I snapped up tickets immediately. My friend, Mia, also a single mum, remembered me raving about last year’s event, and booked tickets for herself and her son too.
Then we decided to make a weekend of it – and last weekend, two single mums and three children hit the road to Ballarat.
The reason that I am telling you all this is because, if you haven’t already discovered this, going away with another single mother, even just for the weekend, is possibly the best mini break you will ever have.
We didn’t need to speak about it particularly, but we both knew that finishing up work, packing, organising someone to care for the pets – just going away for one night – had been a super-human feat. The road trip itself was easier with two mums, especially thanks to Mia, who, having family in regional Victoria and interstate, is no stranger to road trips and has a whole repertoire of car trip games.
There were no “Are we there yet?” comments because the kids in the back had each other to play with (or, in their language, ‘hang out together’). Regardless, they were chatting, Mia and I were chatting, and Ballarat is only a couple of hours away.
Given Mia and I are both on tight budgets, we stayed at an, cough-cough, affordable motel in Ballarat, which was hilarious because it was right out of the 1970s, complete with dark wood paneling, heavy wallpaper, and even had bedside tables with clock radios built in.
Winter Wonderlights was amazing as expected, and the kids had a great time together. I had a wonderful time, yes because the festival was great, but also because being with another adult meant I wasn’t having to think about everything and make all the decisions, all the time, by myself.
Mia just got it, because she is a single mother too.
Mia and I first met, over a decade ago, when we were both pregnant. We were introduced by a mutual friend who, discovering that she had two friends who were both about to become single mothers by choice, thought they should meet.
Throughout my single mother experience, Mia has been one of my strongest supporters, confidents and allies. When my eldest daughter was a newborn, Mia was the person I called when I was standing in the dark in the backyard crying because the baby wouldn’t sleep and I was exhausted. As our kids grew, we shared with each other the struggles of work and single parenting, and things like choosing schools, health issues, and organising birthday parties.
Often as single mums we often talk about parenting alone, but one thing I have learned is that single mother friendships mean we’re never really alone. I know that no matter what I’m dealing with, Mia understands. If she hasn’t experienced exactly the same thing, she understands the challenges of going through it as a single mother.
When I got home from Ballarat I was tired, but tired in a good way, with the weariness that comes from having a great time with people you love and who love you back.
This weekend’s road trip really highlighted to me that single mother friendships are priceless, and I would love all single mothers to have a friendship like me and Mia.
A great place to start is becoming a member of CSMC (it’s free for single mums!) – this gives you access to CSMC’s member only Facebook group, where you’ll find support and friendship. Whether you want to chat online or meet up in person, it’s a place where single mother friendships are forged.
If you have a single mother story you would like to share as part of the My Single Mother Story, email email@example.com and let’s have a chat.