How Being An Only Child To A Single Parent Shaped My Life

November 3, 2017

I grew up with my mum. Just me and her (and a few pets…). Although I had family around me throughout my childhood the majority of my upbringing was done by my mum – a single parent raising an only child. All I can say is thank goodness I was raised by a strong, wonderful, and devoted mother otherwise I wouldn’t be the person I am today. But just how did this relationship affect my life?

I don’t mean that negatively (just some reassurance mum), it’s just interesting to look at my life compared to my partner’s life. He grew up with 2 parents and 2 siblings and, as a result, can cope with certain things better than I can as an only child, but vice versa I can cope with certain things better than he can.

The first and most prominent thing I realised that I got from my mother was feminism. I truly believe in equality for all and that’s all from my upbringing around interesting and diverse people. Although she may have silently judged people (unknowingly to me) she never passed that on to me and as a result I never judge people until I actually get to know them.
Although I am now living with my partner, the thought of living with anyone else was difficult for me. Because I had a fair amount of independence as a child due to my mum working full time and studying full time, the general idea of living with someone who was always there kind of freaked me out a bit. Not because my mum wasn’t there, but because the person I’d be living with wasn’t my mum. (Does that make sense?). Basically I have such a close relationship with my mum that our rituals and humour are so unique to us that having someone else there would be weird. Like other people don’t sing stupid songs and skip around their kitchen? Who knew.

This still comes with it’s difficulties. I’m not used to noise. I am used to the only noise coming from my mum snoring as we worked very different hours when I still lived there. So when my partner had his brothers round I found it very difficult to sleep. Mostly because the noise of them getting ready for bed was so unfamiliar to me that I find it unsettling. Even when my neighbours make a lot of noise I can struggle to sleep or settle.
I’m not used to sharing. Every toy my mum bought me was mine. That was great at the time. However it means I’m not used to having to share my valuable things. Like my laptop for example. I get very antsy when my partner uses my laptop because I don’t want it to come it harm. Not because he’s aggressive towards it or anything, just because it’s mine and I am not used to seeing other people use my things. This is something I am getting used to very quickly.

My weird is unique and that’s great. My mum raised me to be my own person and not follow the trend of others. Although I found this difficult in my teens (let’s not mention the Slipknot years) I have really come in to my own as an adult. I know who I am and I’m not ashamed of it. Yes, I am eccentric compared to my peers but at least I own it.

It’s made me strong and independent. My strength all comes from my mother. I watched that woman be a full-time parent to an only child, student, and worker in a stressful job all at the same time, and honestly, I still have no idea how she did it. Sometimes I step back and remember that and it helps me get through the rest of my day. If I’m stressed I remember what my mum did for her career and how hard she worked. It didn’t come easy, as it shouldn’t, which means my career won’t come about easily either.

I’m a huge introvert. One social event has me in bed for the next 5 evenings. I’m not used to being social and can often find it to be quite a stressful experience. However, hanging out with my close friends in a quiet area can be quite relaxing. As a child I got accustomed to playing by myself because I had no siblings (it’s honestly a lot less tragic than it sounds) and that’s just the way I like it. Being alone is imperative to me recharging my batteries and that’s okay.

I thrive in situations where I can teach myself. Photography, writing, ukulele (well I’m working on that one…). This definitely comes with being an only child. Not only did it mean I had more time to focus solely on my personal passions, it also meant that I am used to self teaching. Because my mum worked a lot to make money to give me the best life possible I learned to be self sufficient when it came to learning important things. I’ve taught myself how to cook (once again, still working on this one. I’m only 22), how to write and read with less difficulty (I am dyslexic – a word I just discovered I can’t actually spell), how to take good photographs, how to set up websites and how to write blog posts. All of which I am immensely proud of.

All in all my upbringing as an only child in a single parent family pushed me to be a strong, vibrant and unique young woman who doesn’t judge others by their appearances and wants equality for all. So I guess you could say that my mum did a pretty good job. 🙂
How was your upbringing? How did it shape you as a person?

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  • Reply heelsandcigarettesareallineed May 17, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    Hello. I had exact the same situation. An only child living with my mom, introverted and used to being alone. My relationship with my mom is very strong but a lot of the time i’m scared of losing her. Not that she is sick or anything. It just feels – because of our strong bond – that I cannot image living my life without her. How do you cope with this?

    • Reply Jodie Paterson May 17, 2020 at 8:01 pm

      Yeah, I feel like that a lot. I almost did lose that relationship with my mum and it absolutely crushed me.

      Just cherish every moment because, and I’ll be honest here, there will be times that you can’t be with her or times that you have to cope with out her and you’ll surprise yourself with how well you can cope. As only children we are great at adapting to situations where we can’t have the things we feel we need. I now live about 2 and a half hours away from my mum so we don’t see each other that much and miss out on a lot, but our bond is still strong.

      The bond will always be there no matter what happens – believe me on this.

  • Reply Jamie Peterson August 19, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Huh, similar upbringing, and similar name (same initials, and a similar surname). When my dad carked it at 8, it completely threw me, but my mum’s a level-headed person, and it’s made me pretty resilient.

    Nowadays, I feel like I’m pretty well-armoured to any sort of tragedy – I had a health scare with my mum recently, and I was shocked at how well I took it. I managed to lie to my boss so I could still go overseas for a business trip, and I was totally ready in case it all went tits-up. The doc told me it was a 30% chance – I didn’t give a shit.

    Well, luckily, it all worked out. I’m honestly a little bit disgusted that I was so ready to accept the worst case scenario, but as single-parent only-childs, you’ve already kinda seen that.

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