Written by Helen Lingard
Hi, my name is Helen Lingard. Im a former nurse from the UK who moved to New Zealand in the late 80s. About a year later I met my ex husband had our daughter, returned to the UK for 6 years during which time we had our son, married and then returned to New Zealand in 1999.
In 2002 our 4 year marriage and 13 year old relationship was sadly over. I was the one who called it a day on my marriage – the usual reasons – we had grown apart – forgot how to communicate with each other and I just felt there had to be more. So I did what I thought was the best thing for all concerned and ended it.
So here I was a 40 something year old single mum, living in New Zealand, originally from Wales, UK and with all my family still living there.
My kids were 9 and 4 at the time. The hardest thing I found was in the evenings – doing the dinner, homework bath and bed on my own. However I have to say - because my ex and I had argued a lot in the time leading up to our split – I was somewhat relieved to have the peace and quiet despite the exhausting time I was having.
Once I had the kids in bed – I would have a hot bath with candles and a glass of wine. It was my treat!
I also found when we split that our friends deserted us too, most of them. Rather than rally round you – they don’t seem to realize what to do, so they just desert you. At least that was my experience.
With no family around (although on reflection going through the marriage break without my family was a blessing really – I dearly love my family but some things are better coped with without family) – I needed to get out there and find a support network. I moved right out of my comfort zone and talked to other parents at school – slowly finding out who was in the same boat as me.
One of the friends I made at this time was Sarah – who turned out to be the absolute best friend anyone could possibly have. I do believe Everything happens for a reason and I do believe Sarah came into my life at that time for a purpose.
Sarah was there for me through some incredible times. I had arranged to go back and see my family at Xmas time (we split in the February), and whilst we were over in the UK our family house sold, so Sarah moved my stuff out of the house and into storage. She was also looking after our family dog at the time. She then found us a place to live on our return that would take a dog AND helped us move us in on our return.
Everyone needs a wonderful friend like Sarah when they go through trauma.
I had been working from home as well as working a night shift at the local rest home (my previous occupation before coming to NZ was a nurse). When my marriage broke up I realized that the money I was earning was just ‘pin’ money so with the split I needed to find a job and find child care for before and after school.
Whilst looking for work – I trotted along to WINZ… (the Dole office in the UK) and signed on for DPB – Single Parent benefit. I was about to learn a lot about WINZ during the next few years! It was never my choice to go on benefit, I would personally much prefer to work – but the lady at WINZ who I happened to know from cricket years ago – advised me that whilst in this ‘newly separated’ state I should just relax – take care of myself and the children and not worry too much about working. It was great advice.
Within a few months – I found some work, sorted out before and after school care. Exhausting though it was, it was nice to have my independence back.
I made a lot of new friends at my kid’s school that year – lots of single mums – we kind of banded together: had laughs, moans and were just there for each other.
I’ve always been one of the lucky ones – their dad is very much in the picture, has them regularly and pays child support but our relationship isn’t easy.
In the early years – I HATED being single – I would sit in cafes/restaurants with my children and look at all the ‘happy’ families – hating them for being ‘happy’. I have since learnt that you really don’t know whats going on in other people’s lives, so its far better not to judge and just concentrate on YOU and yours.
I also used to hate my FREE time and would ensure I was out on my Free time, I would feel if I wasn’t out I was missing out on finding myself a new man ;0). Now, I LOVE my Free time. Im very self sufficient. I have had a few relationships but I have grown very fussy. I learnt what I do and don’t want from my 13 year relationship/marriage from which I have my gorgeous children. Therefore I know what I want from a relationship in the future and whilst I'm willing to compromise on some things, I know that until that special man comes along I'm very happy on my own.
I have always been a pretty positive person but in 2009 I really began to invest in my own personal development – I became part of a wonderful business community of like minded people on the internet and I also met them at conferences. I cannot tell you what this has done for me. Some 9 ¾ years on from my marriage breaking up I am a different person: confident, independent, very happy, self empowered and loving my life.
I know now from experience, we Can and Will get through anything – its all about attitude. Focussing on the outcome and belief in yourself.
If you’re a single parent and wanting some guidiance/tips/help, please feel free to contact me or check out my blog.