Jude reflects on the challenges of being a single mum to three boys, one of whom has Aspergers Syndrome, and the effort she makes to maintain a sense of family.
‘My name is Jude. I am a single mum to three boys, aged four, six and eight. The eldest was diagnosed with Aspergers two weeks into his first year of school. The diagnosis was a relief as it explained so many things and gave me a better idea of how to deal with him. I never planned to be a single mum, I was married and living in the suburbs but things were slowly unravelling. Not long after my last baby was born the marriage ended quietly, in agreement and we have managed to keep a flexible and easy relationship so that the kids still go to their Dad's every second weekend.
‘As a single mum working only a few hours a week, money is always tight but we manage. We saved and bought a tent and we have camping holidays in the warmer months. The boys love to get away and spend time together, especially if the van park has a swimming pool. We are saving again, this time for a camper trailer – it might take us a long time but the plan is to drive from Melbourne to Perth across the Nullabour. I've always wanted to see more of Australia and decided that, rather than leave it for retirement, I would like to make what trips I can with the boys so we can see Australia together.
‘Our house isn't big, or terribly tidy. On the odd occasion, the boys might have a sandwich for dinner because Mum is just too tired to cook. Sometimes I yell too much and our grass can reach knee height in the autumn and spring. But we are a family, the four of us! I am not a perfect mother by any stretch of the imagination but I do the best I can.’