Why parenting alone has made me the better version of myself

When I chose to exit my marriage, my ex chose to exit the country.

I was suddenly the sole parent of – and the sole provider for – my 15 month-old son. I still actually had a job at this time, albeit in London. We had returned to Australia on extended leave whilst I was still receiving a maternity leave payment from my corporate job for an oil major in the UK (yes, maternity leave is uber generous over there!). But as my ex flew back to London, I knew I didn’t want to follow suit.

I had lived abroad for thirteen years, but I was Australian. My family were Australian, and my son would be raised in Australia. That part of the decision was easy, so I emailed my resignation, hung up my frequent flyer card and resolved to stay even if it meant parenting alone.

The next bit of parenting alone was harder. Much, much harder. I needed to provide a source of income for us to survive and thrive.

I tried a corporate role in Melbourne for a while – and was miserable. I woke at 5am, my parents would take it in turns to arrive at 6am to be there when my son woke and take him to childcare. I’d arrive in the office in Melbourne around 7am, so that I could leave at 4pm. The hour long journey home to the Mornington Peninsula would take twice as long as it did in the mornings, and some days I’d be lucky to get to the child care centre to pick up my son before it closed at 6.30pm. Then it was dinner, bath, stories, bed – for both of us. It was exhausting. I was existing, not living – and I missed my baby.

So, I considered my options and decided I could either outsource parenting to a live in au pair. Or I could ditch my corporate career and find new path. One that could sustain my little family and provide me with that elusive work life balance everyone blogs about these days.