My son gave me strength to leave a toxic relationship

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

OPINION: I found out I was pregnant at 18-years-old to a guy I was head over heels in love with.

I believed he loved me, although deep down I think I knew he didn't. We had a very rocky relationship. 

I didn't know what lay ahead and being young and naive the thought of ending up a solo parent, or not having any support, didn't even cross my mind. 

I moved away to be with him. I was alone, but somewhat happy. It didn't last though; he was unfaithful while I was pregnant.

It was a really hard time for me, going through that kind of heartache, becoming a mother at 19 with no friends or family around me, living in a place I wasn't familiar with. I stayed with him, despite how unhappy I was.

Then I had my baby boy. He was beautiful and he changed my life for the better. 

My relationship with his father didn't change. One day as I bawled my eyes out, holding our five-month-old in my arms, feeling guilty for bringing my son into this relationship I realised it was time to leave, time to create a happier environment for my son. He gave me the strength to end our toxic relationship.

He saved my life in many ways and I wouldn't change a thing, but it hasn't been easy. I haven't had much physical support from family, living away from them, and my son's father is no longer involved in his life. He cut contact, which hurts; he's only seen him twice in seven-and-a-half years. 

I don't understand how someone can turn away from their own flesh and blood, but my son is a clever, kind, caring young boy. He's eight now and gives my life meaning. We're super close and he has made me better, stronger person. 

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I've struggled to provide at times; being on a benefit, relying on one income meant money was certainly tight. But I always went without so my son could have what he needed.

I've been looking for work on and off. I didn't realise how hard it would be to find a job within school hours that would give me a chance to gain more experience, so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and move from Westport to Nelson, where there were more opportunities to provide a better life for my son and I.

There, I met a guy and we fell in love. We have a daughter together. We're no longer together, but my children and I still get loads of support from him - he's also taken on my son as his own so he isn't missing out on having a father figure.

I think back on all the things I've been through in my life and feel that I really am blessed to be a mother. Although there have been many hard times, I know I'm not the only mum who feels like I'm winging it. The most important thing you can do is try your best and to remember to look after yourself too. 

I strongly believe it's very important to have physical support when becoming mum and throughout the whole journey. It can be very lonely otherwise. I think sometimes people have forgotten that it does take a village to raise a child. 

I'm nearly 28 now, my son is eight and my daughter is 2-and-a-half.  I have a job - my first in eight years - working 20 hours a week and I feel great (most of the time). 

I have applied for a lot of jobs, but it was hard to find an employer willing to give me a chance to prove myself, given my limited work experience. In at least two job interviews, I could tell that they lost interest the moment I said I was a solo parent with two children. They didn't want to take a chance, no doubt knowing the struggles I will face.

It has been hard; as soon as started my new job my kids both got sick and there wasn't anyone who could step in to help me. Paying for school holiday programmes has also been stressful, but at the same time I feel much better off mentally - and a little bit better off financially too. 

Being a solo mum is hard and full on, but it is also rewarding. I like making my own money and I feel good about being a role model to my children. I'm in a good space now and feel ready for whatever life throws at me.

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