This week has been the first anniversary of me 'officially' becoming a 'single parent family'. It has been a whole year since my son's father moved out, and we have lived alone.
In the 12 months since it has just been me and my firstly eight, now nine-year-old, how we live has changed, albeit slowly and subtly, and probably more on an organic level than an orchestrated or planned way to do things differently.
But change it has; we have little rituals and routines and ways of doing things that we didn't have before. We do things on the spur of the moment. And we do things we simply didn't do when his father lived here. Between us we have, without realising it, developed a whole new timetable for domestic things and an impulsive, live for the moment attitude for fun.
Because there is no one else in the house to entertain him when I am working, he will appear in my office for impromptu cuddles and relaxing on the sofa with the dog. We'll have unscheduled games of swing-ball in the garden between emptying the washing-machine and hanging out laundry, and spur-of-the-moment lunch-time picnics by the river.
Sometimes we'll spend the entire evening sitting on my bed with our laptops, me working, him Skyping his pals, or we'll take a pile of magazines and books round to the pub and eat our dinner there. All things we never did when there were three of us, and all things we probably wouldn't do if someone else was thrown into our mix.
I have always said since my separation that I could never envisage living with someone again, and as resolute as I am every time I make that statement, I know whoever I am saying it to probably thinks I will change my mind if I meet the right person, or a few years down the line when the grim memories of my previous relationship are less raw and my child older. And to be fair, a small part of me sometimes thinks that too. But generally, my overwhelming opinion at the moment is that another person in my life – more, my home - would impinge on my space, and probably want to change my ways of doing things, and interfere with and curtail aspects of my day-to-day living.
Thinking about the changes that have happened over the past year and all the milestones I was scared of us facing alone - the first Christmas, birthdays, family events - has really made me see how my son and I now work together in partnership, and relish and enjoy each other's company.
And it's made me realise how well he has weathered the storm of his father and I breaking up, and in spite of how tough things sometimes are for us, we work bloody well together, no matter how others might judge us or label us (single parent family, fatherless household, etc, etc).
I am proud that in a horrid set of circumstances he has coped so brilliantly, and come through the events of the past year a stronger and more confident character. And given that a parent's first thought is always 'what about the kids?' when a relationship breaks down or ends, I hope this gives confidence to others.
Ours is a very happy family home, regardless of there only being two of us in it. I always assumed - was led to believe - that a 'broken home' could and would not be. But my son has proved to me that youngsters really can and do adapt, learn from, and come through upsetting early life experiences. And often positively. Just as long as we, the grown ups are honest and open with them, and give them the skills and the space do so.