“My long-time partner said he wanted nothing to do with the baby – financially or otherwise.”
Laura Tait was a 20 year old university student when she found out she was pregnant. A month before she gave birth, the father, who was Laura’s long-time partner, said he wanted nothing to do with the baby – financially or otherwise.
Laura Tait, 24, owner of Laura Tait Professional Make Up & Beauty and her 4 year old daughter, Olivia.
Laura had to make a decision: “Did I want mummy and daddy to be together for the baby, but constantly fighting, creating a negative environment, and having daddy in and out of our lives?” she said, “Or did I want to stand up for myself and show my daughter that I could give her the best life I could provide, with unconditional love and stability? I chose the latter.”
She returned to school eight weeks after giving birth to Olivia, and successfully graduated. Today, the English native runs her own mobile business, Laura Tait Professional Make Up & Beauty. She shares her thoughts on the stigma surrounding single parents, what it’s like to date again, how she feels empowered, and what single parents wish people would stop saying.
What do you think are some of the misconceptions people have about being a single parent? Or about being a young single mum, for that matter?
That we put ourselves in this position because we didn’t try hard enough to fix the relationship. People don’t understand that it isn’t as black and white as that; there are many factors that determine the outcome of our situations. Many people praise single fathers, but then look down on single mothers. It’s just not right. All parents fighting for what is best for their children and trying their best to provide should be acknowledged, not shunned.
Can you talk about a time when you felt terribly angry, upset, or shocked by the way you were treated as a single mum?
When I was proceeding with the formalities for Olivia’s birth certificate at the ICA, I had decided not to put the biological father’s name down for the simple fact that I did not want him to have any rights to her. The dirty look that was given to me and the way I was talked to after explaining that to the officer were enough to make my blood boil. I then had to go to the supreme court and make an official oath in front of a witnessing judge that I was a single parent. I felt so outraged that I was being treated like a criminal for wanting to protect my child and raise her on my own.
Can you also describe a time when you felt uplifted and empowered as a single mum?
I feel empowered each and every day. I feel proud to have been a part of building the character of my daughter. I feel empowered that she is strong willed yet I am the first person she looks for in times of need.
What are things that single parents wish people would stop saying?
“Why are you a single parent?” “How can you have a child and not be married?” Sorry but my relationship status has nothing to do with my ability as a parent.
Was Olivia part of the reason you decided to start your own business?
Yes and no. I needed time flexibility. A lot of the jobs I had applied for required at least 9 to 11 hour days. The company I had worked at prior to starting my own business allowed flexibility in my working hours. However, Olivia started getting very sick very often so I ended up missing a lot of work, which in turn affected my pay.
With my own business, I work the hours I want that fit Olivia’s schedule, I determine my own salary, and I’m doing something that I really enjoy.
What was it like to start dating again after you became a single parent?
Despite the trauma and toxicity of my past relationship, I felt I could not love anybody as much I had loved him. After I gave birth I focused on school and looking after Olivia, with no interest in finding anybody. If I did find anybody, I had a full list of “terms and conditions.” I wasn’t interested in dating or hooking up. I wanted the next person to be my life partner, best friend and soulmate, so I wasn’t pushing my luck and searching high and low.
I let nature take its course and seven months later, a “tall, dark, and handsome” football player caught my eye and for the first time in my dating life, I asked him out! Dann and I have been happily together for just over three years and he has shown me what it is to love again, and to be loved in such an amazing way. Dann has been in Olivia’s life since she was seven months old and she now refers to him as her daddy.
Raising a child can be financially challenging in Singapore. You’re from Newcastle, England. What ultimately made you decide to stay and raise your daughter here, in spite of the challenges?
Despite Singapore being unbelievably expensive to raise a child, I also think it is one of the greatest places with so much freedom, safety, culture, and exploration. I moved here in 2001 with my family for my dad’s work, and they have helped a lot financially over the years. If my family and my partner weren’t here then I think I would have no choice but to leave because there is no welfare system to help single parents in regards to housing or other subsidies.
Olivia is in the local school system because of the high fees of international schools. I hope she gets her PR status approved. Now that I am working and running my own business, 75% of my salary still goes towards paying Olivia’s childcare fees.
What advice do you have for single parents who are struggling to make ends meet?
Buy second hand from people who are selling online through garage sales, Craigslist, Gumtree, and Facebook groups. You will save so much money on so many things. Every couple of months I do a big clear out and sell a lot of preloved or unused things to make a bit of extra money.
There are many parents in unhappy relationships or marriages who would force themselves to stay together for the kids. What are your thoughts on that?
As hard as it is to imagine, you have to put your happiness first. Your happiness will reflect on your children. Everybody deserves to be happy. You have to have the strength and courage to stand up and voice out when you feel something is wrong, then you have a choice to make.
Exclusive offer for The New Age Parents readers: Get 10% off any Laura Tait Professional Make Up & Beauty services by quoting “New Age” upon booking. Book online through www.facebook.com/LauraTaitMobileBeauty or www.lauratait.wix.com/laurataitmua.
By Jenny Tai
Photos courtesy of Laura Tait
This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine