Single-parent Sacrifices

Mara Malins

I think out of the four stories in the INKomplete series, INKapable was the easiest for me to understand my main character’s motives. Josephina is a rough-around-the-edges, potty-mouthed, independent, sometimes moody, hardworking, intelligent, but most importantly an “everyday” single mum. She’s not superwoman. She’s not sashaying around the world, beautifully coifed and ready for the day, a smile constantly on her lips, a friendly word for anyone.

No, Joe is exhausted. She’s grouchy, stressed, and worrying all the time. She understands that there’s a finite amount of energy for each day… but she makes that energy stretch as far as she can, trying to meet all of our societies’ expectations for a modern, working woman. She’s holding a full-time career, maintaining and up-keeping her apartment, singlehandedly doing all of the household chores and the upbringing of her little girl, whilst also trying to scrape a little “me time” in.

Don’t we all know an amazing woman like this?

Not perfect but getting by?

For me, it’s my sister. She’s the eldest of my siblings and, without a doubt, the cleverest and strongest of us all. She’s the one we all turn to when we have problems, the shoulder to cry on, the person not afraid to give us a shake when we need shaking. And if any us are threatened, then you better believe that cat has some sharp claws waiting to strike.

My sister is exactly like Joe—juggling a mega career (though in finance and not tattoos!), a beautiful daughter that has never wanted for anything, and her own free time. For ten years she oversaw everything in her world, making sure that every box was ticked, every dance recital was practised for, and all homework was completed and stored away in the homework bag for the next day. Some days she cried from exhaustion…but that doesn’t make her any less strong, because she wiped her tears away and got on with it. She’s a tough cookie.

But there is no doubt that trying to have everything—a job, a family, a home, some me-time—comes at a price. I saw my sister give up ground to a thousand almost-inconsequential parts of herself to make her dream work. They were small sacrifices, not important and barely noticeable, but they were there

Friday night rolls around but there’s no babysitter available and no husband to pick up the slack… guess who stays at home that night?

She loves roller coasters but on a mummy-daughter day to the park there’s no one to watch daughter whilst she rides the coaster… so she doesn’t.

There’s a choice between watching that new BBC crime thriller or watching Frozen for the thirtieth time… you can bet my sister doesn’t want to build a snowman.

A new fella starts making eyes. My sister knows immediately that his lifestyle isn’t compatible—no matter how hot she thinks he is. That man doesn’t even get a look in.

Small, inconsequential things that she had to give up daily, hourly, with no complaint. She would say it was a fair trade, giving up those small things to make the big things work, and I agree. She would also say that all parents make sacrifices, and I agree there too. But would she have had to make so many if she wasn’t a single parent?

After ten years of sacrifice and hard-bloody-work, my sister finally found the right someone. Together, they make a great team. She can ride the roller coaster, watch the thriller, or go out on a Friday night because she knows there’s someone watching her back, picking up some of the weight, taking some of the sacrifice.

The point of this rambling blog is that I wanted that for Joe in INKapable, but it was important that it was on her terms. There couldn’t be—there shouldn’t be—a saviour that would come riding in to save the day. She doesn’t need it. She doesn’t want it. She’s doing all right by herself. Being alone might make it harder, but she’s not afraid to stay single if it’s the right thing to do for her and her daughter. Just another small sacrifice.

There are too many romances out there where the heroine’s life is incomplete until she has a man. I felt that would undermine all the sacrifices that my sister—and other single parents, both mothers and fathers—out there have made if they can only be complete, only be successful, when with someone. It’s not only untrue but it feeds into the stereotype that single parents are somehow weaker because they’re alone.

My sister proves every day that single parents are among the strongest people in the world. They make more sacrifices to make things work. Having her as a role model is why Joe was the easiest character to understand.


Out of Print

As a sweet, sweet bonus, Mara is offering anyone who pre-orders INKapable (or any of the final three INKomplete titles) a chance to win this lovely necklace:

Click here now to get all the details and enter to win!

Mara Malins writes romantic fiction using words that your grandmother doesn’t know. An avid gamer, she battles spreadsheets by day and fiction by night. She lives in Manchester, England with her menagerie of three cats, two turtles, a social media loving partner, and a disobedient garden. If you want to know when her next fiction is released, or see thousands of pictures of her cats sleeping in a variety of different poses, find her on Twitter or Goodreads.

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