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Raising kids is easy, raising great kids is near imposible on a budget and on your own.

Do we expect more from our mothers than our fathers?

As a sex worker I was constantly amazed at the lack of knowledge my clients had about their families; How old is your eldest? “I don’t know nine or ten by now”. If a mother made the same statement would I be equally amazed? Are men and women’s faux pas equally disturbing or do we judge mothers that little bit harsher? Unfortunately, yes. When a man leaves his family for another woman I am disappointed, but if a woman leaves her family for another man I am shocked and infuriated. Surely my inner feminist should be screaming at my unequal expectations of parents, be they male or female.

As a single mother (no fortnightly checks delivered here) I had to be the sole breadwinner, yet be home with dinner on the table (nutritious and delicious!) by 6.30pm. Homework assistant for an hour, then cuddle time on the couch, bed and story time at 7.45pm. House clean and washing done by 8.30pm, then study and homework time for me until I rolled into bed at 11.30pm. Six am wakeup call, and it starts all over again. Sadly I had learned very early on to have few if any similar expectations of my own mother, to expect that she would always let me down. In reaction to this, I was determined to be a terrific mum, akin to Carol Brady, my moral compass growing up. Only I forgot that Mrs Brady had Alice, and as hard as I tried I could never be two people.

I was determined my daughter would get every opportunity that kids with two parents had, even if it killed me. My choices were slim but my ambition was great. This is how my career dragged on for so long – that inner voice urging me to do better, be more, never give in; became my driving force… “Don’t be your mother Annika -be Mrs Brady instead”. Words like these played in my head like a mantra for twenty years, they were in my head while I was giving head, they whispered to me night and day. Compromise was by no means an option because to do so would be fulfilling all the naysayers’ predictions… “As a single parent you will never manage, she will grow up unruly without a father”. “Poverty is bound to occur on your own and that lifestyle is cyclical and generational. Give her up”. I was constantly aware that society was telling me, “having this child is your choice, don’t ask for help later when you can’t cope.”

My Brady reality was reinforced every night on the news, crime rates in suburbs I could afford to live in were “out of control”, and school completion and university entry seemed almost entirely based on where you grew up. This was where I could afford to live if I quit sex work, and worked for minimum wage, but I wanted my daughter raised in the suburbs that were safe, where education was a priority.

People may judge me harshly for raising a child while being a sex worker but I have no regrets, and am very proud of what I achieved. My daughter is the apple of my eye, talented, independent and accomplished, she is a product of my determination, my sacrifice, of my guilt parlayed into profit. Aged nineteen, uneducated with no family support, I don’t see how I could have made the same child grow into such an accomplished adult without the vast income that sex work provided.

I wish I had enjoyed parenting but I was so busy attempting to attain an unattainable standard I didn’t have time to enjoy those many years. As I reflect today, parenting was just a lot of hard work. Studying was just a lot of hard work, sexwork was the only time I got to lie down.

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