When I first became a single parent, I didnt have much at all to my name. A rocking chair, a single mattress, a travel cot, a CD/radio, a guitar, a bookshelf worth of books (but no bookshelf), a bag of clothes, a bag of J’s clothes, a mini fridge, various baby toys and books, blankets, a desktop computer but no monitor, a few boxes of various personal items, about £50 in my bank account and an income support claim in someone’s desk inbox.
It wasnt much, but we got by, it was enough. The flat we had moved into was on the first floor. It was nice, much nicer than I had expected to be able to afford, but then my Mum had offered to pay the deposit, otherwise we would be nowhere, let alone somewhere nice. It looked very bare, and I had to switch off the lights and sit in the dark during the evenings as we had no curtains or blinds. To make it worse, it was winter, the evenings were dark and the only forms of entertainment I had were radio and books.
Starting a whole new life from scratch proved to be hard, and I would be nowhere without the help I received. I was halfway through my last year of A Levels, and J received a free childcare place from CareToLearn. Without it, I would have had to give it up. With my £750 Budgeting Loan, I managed to furnish and make homely the whole of our new flat. It was the first time I had been able to decorate the way I wished, and it was also the first time I was able to enjoy my new life as a single mum. My family was fantastic, and I am thoroughly thankful for all of the support I received from various sources. Without it, I wouldnt be where I am today.
As I look around the room now, Its such a difference from the room I looked around less than 3 years ago. For a start, it’s not the same room. From my job in a call centre, I was able to save enough money to enable us to move to a bigger place with a garden of sorts. I still have the majority of the items which I purchased with that first loan, and some of the items donated by family members. The best difference is the fact that I have made a house a home for us both. Twice. The journey has made me a different person. Happier, calmer and more appreciative of the little things in life.
We are back to where we started, finance wise. I’ve had 2 jobs in the past three years and while I was working, we were better off. But for now, Ive decided to take a break. Seeing J through his first year of school, dropping him off and picking him up myself, being able to make the most of the last of my son’s preschool years, spending time together, finishing my studies and finding a little work experience. Its the last year before I embark fully on my career and J starts full time school, and I’ve decided to concentrate on the important things in my life right now. It means we are yet again struggling a little like we were in the beginning. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth it, but I only have to look back to those first days to be grateful for everything that we have right now.