Any Other Photo {Marie and Noah}

When we first decided to open up Any Other Photo to something a bit wider  than just weddings, our primary purpose was to ensure all the non-married readers of AOW weren’t excluded from the series that’s become an AOW institution.  I don’t think any of us expected what’s fallen into our inboxes since.  This AOP hits hard.  It challenges preconceptions.  It makes you reconsider.  It shows us that the structures society tells us we need to be happy are, for the most part, unnecessary.

Thank you Marie.  Over to you:        

I had already thought about submitting a very different Any Other Photo but hadn’t managed to find the time and then I saw that you were starting to look at other types of Any Other Photo so here goes.

I found it really hard looking at the images on AOP of weddings and love for so many reasons.  I don’t think I will ever get married, I feel that option for being loved like that and having that happy day surrounded by family and friends just isn’t there for me now.  Even were I to, and I really doubt this, meet someone who made me willing to take that massive and wonderful leap of faith my parents and eldest brother have passed away so any wedding would be so bitter sweet to be almost impossible.  Also, although not everyone who does get married will, it reminds me so much of the momentous decision to start a family together.

As I am sure you can tell from that I’ve been hurt badly.  I have no desire to go into the detail of that again (if you feel like being bored/depressed you can read more on my blog) but what now (maybe just today) feels like the most painful part was the dishonour of that decision to become parents together.  We chose to start a family and what should have been a wonderful amazing time became a constant struggle for survival. I am not entirely sure of whether this is true of all parents, sleep deprivation is hardcore, but I can’t remember most of my child’s first year.  When I see new parents I am hit all over again grieving for something that I feel was stolen from me.   I ache for the shared joy of parenting.

So far so sad right?

Except no not really.  Because yes my little family of two isn’t exactly what I thought it would be.  Yes its exhausting being the only parent to carry stuff on day trips, or discipline or bath or put the bins out.  Its hard to get the balance right of doing enough with him because I feel guilty and want to overcompensate.  But by god its amazing!  We can do whatever we want!  And I get my little man all to myself.  I really don’t buy into “single parenthood being the toughest” stuff.  Yeah its hard but being a parent full stop is hard, being in a relationship is hard.  So when I look at my friends with partners I think it balances out. And, so every other year Christmas is hell but some weekends I get time off.  I will say that again for the parents out there who are waivering about their relationship – I GET TIME OFF.  My relationship with his dad is still awful but quite regularly he has him at weekends and, although I spend the time missing my annoying ball of curiosity, I can (if the garden and 700 other jobs are sorted) sometimes just lay in bed all day with a book. BOOM!

And I enjoy it in a way that I never, ever appreciated before motherhood.  I don’t miss having a partner really, maybe every other Saturday night it might be nice to have someone take me out and spoil me and give a cuddle and breakfast in bed but the rest of the time its good just knowing the mess will be the same mess when I came home as when I left with no one else to make it worse.  (My three year old is better at putting his washing in the machine/basket etc than any other person I have ever lived with.)

So its taken me some time to be okay about being single and being a single mum but now I love it.  I am really happy about concentrating on my career and I ENJOY MY FAMILY.  This photo was taken on new years day.  The second new year in a row I had gone to bed on my own with no plans for the next day.  We had a duvet day and we stayed in our pjs all day and watched films.  And it was fun (and wriggly and he got a bit restless but nothing is ever perfect with a toddler) and nice, just nice.  So when I am exhausted from listening to the sound of my own voice or with the constant stream of awkward that is his father I look at this photo and remember that I am so incredibly lucky to have all the love in our home.



Categories: Any Other Photo
17 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Elsie
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    When I read the AOP descriptions I always scroll down really slowly so I don’t reveal any of the photo too soon. I like to read & take in all the words then have a ‘reveal’ moment. I absolutely loved this piece & a genuine smile reaction happened when I saw the picture, there’s just something about both the words and the photo that I love.

  2. Alison
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    This is just lovely. I hope you have that photo framed on a wall somewhere, it’s beautiful.

    I’ve recently become a mum and my husband and I have a new found respect for single parents because it’s a really tough gig. Sounds like you’re doing an amazing job and I wish you and your son every happiness for the future.

  3. Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    What an amazing AOP! Love it. Wishing you and your little man all the best, sounds like you are doing an amazing job xx

  4. Anon
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Lovely photo! Can we have a link to your blog please?

    I can almost feel the conflict within you from your words, wanting to feel the joy but also still hurting so much for what you have lost/feel you have missed out on. I hope you the pain lessens with time and you feel more of the joy.

    As a child of bitterly divorced parents (who’s relationship caused me pain and confusion for many many years), I wish you much luck and strength in negotiating your relationship with your ex so your son is able to have good relationships with both of you; I have seen it done successfully by friends and have no end of admiration for those who manage to make this situation work well for their kids.

  5. Marie Pye
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Hi all, thanks for the lovely comments. I will reply more later as we have a swimming lesson to get to eek! The blog is

  6. Kate G
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Marie what an absolutely beautiful picture. Even without your words it speaks volumes in it’s simplicity. Love love love it. And thats what AOP is about – love, in whichever form we are lucky enough to have it. It shines though in this image.

    (But makes me even more hopelessly confused about which picture I could ever choose for an AOP submission- eek).

    Sounds like you are an amazimg Mum. xx

  7. Posted August 16, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad that AOP has branched out a bit! I love this picture and your story. It sounds like you’ve had a pretty rough time, but I love your attitude towards having a few days to yourself! I would also like to say, as a child of divorce, please don’t give up on love. Marriage isn’t always everything and I can see why you would be wary of remarrying (I’m not sure that it’s for me after my parents experience), but everyone deserved happiness, love, and someone to bring them a cup of tea in be on a morning. So please don’t give up on that one day!

  8. Amanda M
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    A really beautiful photo

  9. Posted August 16, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    This photo is so beautiful x

  10. deltafoxtrotcharlie
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I. Love. This. Photo

    Why are kids feet so darn cute??

  11. Posted August 16, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Beautiful x

  12. Morwenna
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    How gorgeous, what a wonderful picture. You write beautifully as well x

  13. Posted August 16, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Such a gorgeous photo and a beautifully written piece.

  14. Lee-Anne
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful piece of writing, and that pictures makes me smile x

  15. Posted August 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful. All of it.

    I read this on the train this morning and was really uplifted by the piece, how together you sound despite things not working out as you planned, and how lucky your little boy is to have you… and then when I scrolled down and saw the photo I had tears in my eyes. Must be the third time in a week that AOW has had me crying in the morning. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ll have my own little set of feet to snuggle with in a few months but this really touched me. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Marie Pye
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Thank you all for the lovely, lovely thoughts. The photo was the first in a planned photo a day for a year series, I got to about 15 before giving up in exhaustion, and I love it I think its the favourite thing I have ever taken.
    It is framed on my bedroom wall so I see it as soon as I wake up, and always before I leave the house.
    I totally understand the comments about trying to improve things with my ex, Noah has already started to use the but my daddy lets me or my daddy’s good at that ploy (he’s 3!). Things are really strained and I doubt they will ever improve much but we are attempting our second round at mediation. We don’t talk to each other in front of Noah, to avoid slipping into arguing. That sounds awful but hopefully by both being positive about us each being good people who don’t really like each other and that things are just different with Daddy but that’s okay he will cope. I hope by framing things the right way and because he was less than 18mths old when we split it will be more manageable for him. I know its better than the only alternatives.

    Gwen – I plan to employ a manslave to wait on me once I qualify

    Gemma – It hasn’t always been thus, I have struggled a lot. Sometimes that motherly guilt hits me so hard on bad days that I should just BE HAPPY because Noah should just be enough its like being run over by a train. But right now all is good, sometimes scary, sometimes stressful but good.

  17. Anita
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I rarely visit AOW on a Friday because following my divorce I’m not a great fan of all the wedding pretty pretty. Popped on today and WHAT a lovely photo. Also just wanted to say how much your words resonated with me, I’m not a mum but feel exactly the same as you about never getting married again and about bittersweetness (my mum has passed away). Best of luck for the future and with your little man. Am following your blog on tumblr x

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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