In El Salvador, where I was born, there is a saying that ‘Every baby comes with a loaf of bread under their arm’.
I was a new mum, with a 6 week old baby boy, and my husband was going to a stressful time at work. At the time I was adjusting to my new life as a mother and trying to figure out newborn baby stuff – my son seemed to have a lactose intelorance, he had trouble burping, so there were just a few small hurdles. Despite that, as a family I felt we were in a good place, we had just bought a new car, we had just had baby photos done. There was nothing to indicate what was coming.
My husband had been acting strange from two days before it happened, distant and quiet. He was really worried about his job situation, and was upset, down. It was a long weekend. We went to visit his parents, everything was pretty normal. Not long after we got home my husband told me he wanted to go back to his parent’s place to talk to them – it was a bit strange. He didn’t come back for a few hours. He didn’t come back the whole night. It was the beginning of a steep and fast decline of his mental health and our relationship breakdown, which was completely and utterly unexpected, because I had always believed we were happy. We had been together since we were 16 and were at the time both 29. I had thought we could overcome all our problems together. Despite my attempts to fight for our relationship, I could not salvage it alone. And before I knew what was happening, I was a single mum and living back at home with my mum and my baby boy.
It was extremely difficult to have a relationship breakdown at such a vulnerable time, and among the challenges was not having that extra person for my child to rely on. Also, for myself, during the night, I had no help. However, my mum was such an amazing support in the early days, and always advised me to take care of myself, especially my mental health saying that if I didn’t my son would lose both his mum and dad. I was so lucky that I also had extremely supportive friends, who have been really, really good to me, and helped me in practical as well as emotional ways. I really learned to appreciate the people around me.
May people, even before my son was born, gave me their old baby clothes, a pram, toys, just about everything.
A few months after the relationship breakdown, I decided I wanted to regain my independence and moved back to my own place, to start my own journey with my son. Because my mum was a single mother from when I was three, I knew that I could do it too, and do a good job.
Because of what happened, I found I had to force myself to be more active and social than I would otherwise have done, I made a concerted effort to go out and see people, to go for walks, trips to the Coast with friends etc.
My son is an easy, good kid, even though he has his own ideas, he is affectionate and well behaved. I enjoy being his mum so much and would have done a lot of it on my own anyway. Seeing him happy, seeing him smile makes me happy. So does seeing him develop and grow, observing the changes over time. And seeing his little personality continually develop.
With my son I have a such close relationship, you could say we are co-dependant! He is never far away from me unless I am at work or he’s with his father. At home he is constantly on me, hugging me, always affectionate, and I love that.
My son is now almost two, and since before he was one I have worked part time (3 days a week) in my old job, and am in relationship with a new person. I am mediating a parenting plan with my son’s father which is not a legally binding agreement but serves to formalise things through Relationships Australia. He sees his son every second day.
Financially, I’ve found you can make it work if you’re willing to live humbly. I don’t think my baby misses out in any way. There are also a lot of help and services, subsidies, childcare rebate, centrelink. I am lucky in the sense that I’m a working professional, I have continued my career and even managed to fit in some extra study before going back to work.
To others going through a similar situation I would say – you’ll be ok! Just because the relationship broke down it doesn’t mean you won’t have happiness again. God has a plan, everything works out. Sadly it’s the other person who’s missing out.