If you can’t find me or it’s been a couple of hours and I haven’t replied there’s a very real chance I’m watching Good Girls on Netflix. If you’re a fan of Breaking Bad or Dead to Me then I urge you to block the next week out of your diary and get settled in with a cup of tea and the tv remote. It’s awesome and other than it being about leading a life of crime, a lot of it is very relatable.
Before you get carried away thinking I’m working for a criminal gang, the part that’s relatable is the relationship and family dynamics throughout the show. Take for example that two of the main characters are sisters. One completely has her shit together and is one of life’s leaders. The other does/is not. This is the same dynamic for me and my big sis. Her house is always enviably clean and tidy, the kids presentable, well fed and they turn up, with the right equipment, mostly on time. I can relate to the ‘mostly on time’ bit. I’d also like to lay claim to the kids being well fed but after having to give the baby some ‘emergency’ KFC for dinner the other day I feel that ship has sailed….
Last week I was on FaceTime to my bestie in America and we were talking about the show and the conversation quickly progressed to how single mums are portrayed in the media. Even though we’re not now, we’ve both been single mums and for both of us it was only a few years ago that we were juggling work, kids, running a household, divorce and all the related dynamics on our own. We may not have been our ‘best selves’ every minute of every day, after all, life is stressful when you’re responsible for the whole shebang but some days we nailed it, other days, we just did it. Almost all of the time our kids felt we were on top of things and we weren’t the ‘obvious’ single mum in the school drop off line.
I’m sure my friend and I aren’t the only two people to have nailed single parenting so why is it, whenever I see a tv show with single parents it’s always the single mum who’s portrayed as a mess? She lives in a crappy apartment, her child doesn’t have the right stuff for school, she’s late for picking up her kid and she often has a far-too-adult-for the-situation relationship with her child who becomes the ‘parent’ in the relationship.
Usually the single parent is that because she was really young when she had the baby. If it’s an American show they’ll often have a ‘knocked up in High School’ reference to explain the child. If the mother’s older then the father is a criminal and in prison. At a push, it’s because one of the parents had an affair, was found out and now the single parent is on their own. There doesn’t seem to be much room for ‘relationship didn’t work out’ or ‘we outgrew each other’ dynamics. The onus is always on the single mother for making a bad choice of partner/not using contraception.
As we were talking about this we started to think about shows where single parents are portrayed as positive, where they’ve left a relationship that’s going downhill or have decided to have a baby on their own. These strong single mothers are nailing it. Their kids are always on time, clean, presentable, well fed and have the right equipment. We couldn’t think of one single show between us.
I set up This Demanding Life 3 months into being a single parent. It meant having to learn about how to form a company. Being able to do every job from my own marketing to accounts, emails, liaising with clients, networking, learning new technology and software as well as doing my main work; building websites. All whilst juggling the house, kids and my divorce. Whilst I’m not going to pretend I was nailing it every single day, I also wasn’t the hot mess the media likes to portray single mums as.
There are so many companies out there run by single mums who are utterly nailing it. Or certainly making it look like they are. They may be like the proverbial duck – looking like they’re serenely gliding across the river but their feet are paddling furiously in the water – but when it comes to work and the kids, they’ve got it. I can’t wait for the media to start showing this type of single mum in their tv shows.