Two weeks ago we welcomed new member Lidia Peto to the Single Mums Business Network. You can see her welcome blog post here: Welcome New Member – Lidia Peto
Lidia has kindly taken the time to share her very personal story with us – I have to be honest, I couldn’t get through it without crying, and some of it was so familiar that it made me realise that the SMBN is about so much more than business. As women we have dealt with pain, loneliness, financial struggle and desperately wanting so much more for our children that we come together. We come together in our quest to physically be there for them and to give them some financial stability. It is true that when you experience such raw struggle you do not wish that on another woman, and when you have come through it you do all that you can to help those who walk a similar path.
Thank you Lidia for sharing such truth. Be sure to note her event at the bottom of her story. A great chance to get together in person and start or maintain that crucial healing process. Her story is as follows:
Hello my name is Lidia Peto, some of my friends call me Lidz for short. I am half Hungarian and half English and was born and bred in South Africa. I lost my dad at a very young age, I had only just turned 9. My mother raised us on her own, doing the best she could, l lost her at the age of 22. My young life was filled with poverty, hurt, anger, trauma and abuse. However I learnt from a young age that despite what life throws at me, I would learn to make the best of it and never give up.
I am a passionate proud single mother to a beautiful, clever and funny teenage daughter; she has ADHD, ODD, Anxiety Disorder and learning difficulties.
My daughter is my jewel, my pride and joy, she is my everything. I am now a full–time Carer for her. I am a qualified holistic Personal Trainer, an inspiration blogger and life coach, mindfulness and gratitude advocate and a massive travel enthusiast. My aim is to live with passion, be the most empowered mother I can be and inspire others to do the same. I used to work full-time in the corporate world holding down stressful jobs for over 15 years; I did various roles in various industries but nothing inspired me, nothing ignited my passion. My life now is about making the most of every opportunity, not focus on what I don’t have and to live a life that inspires me and others.
(The Big news – 2003)
I was 29 years old, living the life of a young ambitious lady, partying it up and enjoying life. I was working full-time, drove a BMW and was living the high life. I had so many plans, dreams and goals. I was planning to go overseas and study to be an aerobics instructor.
I was friends with a guy and we were sort of dating, spending lots of time together partying a lot. As things progressed we got together and just enjoying life as you do when you’re young, no hassles or worries.
Then, one day the Big News was announced. “I was pregnant”. To be honest for many parents this is the best news ever, but sadly for me on this day I felt like my entire life changed. Initially it was a sad day but not for long, when the news sunk in I was so happy that I was going to be a mom. When the day Chanel was born and nothing could take away that amazing feeling of bringing a little miracle into this world. My life was about my daughter from that day on and I vowed to protect and care for her no matter what.
(Single mom’s life in South Africa 2004-2011)
My life with my daughter’s dad was good while I was pregnant and for the first 2 years of her precious life. As relationships are hard work and even harder when you have a child, we sadly drifted apart for various reasons which I won’t go into now.
Sadly we split up and my dream of giving my little daughter of 2 and half years a fulfilled life of having a mother and father raise her was destroyed. I was shattered, and heartbroken and mostly I was broken for my baby. She found it so hard, crying for her dad, her dad that decided he would not be part of her life more than he had to be. This was really tough for her. I had to be strong for both of us.
As a single mother now in South Africa with a 2 and a half year old little girl, I made a choice to get on with life and give my daughter the best I could as a single mother. Endless court battles over finance, living in huge debt, continuous fights over parental responsibilities. Throughout this I stood tall and would not give up. I had every second weekend to myself so was able to enjoy the odd night
with friends. I won’t lie and say it was easy, it was hell. I did not have my parents to support me. I had the help of some friends but was predominantly on my own.
Living on my own with my toddler, I learnt to be the man and the woman of the house. I could do an amazing barbecue, learnt to be my own handy man, I even owned a purple tool box (yes it’s my favourite colour). It’s overwhelming just thinking about the roles I had to play all the time but I had to as I had to make sure my precious daughter was ok and happy. I guess I over compensating sometimes, I didn’t always make the right choices but I always did what I thought was best. Chanel had a good life growing up in South Africa amidst all the turmoil, stress, depression and anxiety in my life and my heart – I feel proud that I was able to protect her from that.
(The Big Move 2011)
I always wanted a better life for my daughter and myself, somehow I have always had a fighter spirit despite what life has thrown at me, I learnt from a young age to make the best of it. I guess I got that from my parents mostly my dad. I always felt like I could do more or achieve more or be better in life.
So I packed up and moved my daughter and I all the way from South Africa to the UK. (Yes you heard correctly, we moved over to UK on our own)
Ok, it wasn’t that simple… I always wanted to move away from South Africa (SA) as it’s not safe, the future is not bright and it’s very limited for children as the government is not as supportive with children as they are in UK and Europe. My daughter and I visited the UK in 2010 for a look and see, I went for a few interviews and we did a bit of travelling in the UK. Strangely enough I met a guy in SA that was from UK and fell in love with him, even though we had a long distance relationship I made up my mind finally to move.
The entire move and getting our passports etc. took about 5 years whilst I researched and due to all the red tape I had go through due to my dad’s Hungarian heritage. My boyfriend at the time and I had to see attorneys to get full legal custody of Chanel and the battle was finally won when my daughter’s father gave permission for me to take her to UK. It was a daunting time of my life, I kept thinking he would continue to be a problem in our lives and say no.
I have had some tough times in my life and been through hell, but moving to a new country on your own with a 7 year old was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
I didn’t get any help from anyone, not even my boyfriend who was living in the UK already, I had to figure it out on my own. But this was my goal and my dream and no matter what I would never give up on it.
The day came to say goodbye, it was so hard. My daughter had to say goodbye to her father and family, my heart still breaks when I think of that day. And all the other times she cried because she missed her dad and her family. The guilt, shame and heartbreak was indescribable, I felt like a failure and a fool for taking my daughter away from her dad. But I knew and I still know it was the right choice, I had to do this. I had to live in the UK and give her a better life and future. Sometimes we make these choices and it hurts but it’s the right choice.
(Survival mode in England 2011-2016)
Settling into our new life in UK was really hard. My boyfriend who hadn’t helped much while we made the move turned out to be a horrible person so we split up 4 months after I moved to the UK. He could not accept my daughter and adapt to a life with children so I put my daughter first as I always do and we split up. This was sad for both my daughter and I as we thought we would be a proper family in a new country and be happy. But again our dreams were shattered into a million pieces. None the less I was not going to let this break up ruin our lives or make the move the wrong choice. I cried a lot, my daughter cried a lot. I felt lonely every day, we only had each other, and we were wrapped up in a little cocoon the 2 of us. No wonder we are so close today.
I found a job, I was working and managed to give my daughter what she needed. I made sure we went on holidays, we were able to go to Disneyland Paris and she had a birthday party every year. We had fun just the 2 of us. Living in a new country felt like a new world, so many adventures, new things to explore, it was amazing.
Amazing but with challenges. My daughter was going through tough times at school, she was bullied, she didn’t really have friends and she felt different and was clearly carrying around so much pain. She was also very behind at school due to learning difficulties.
I was carrying my hurt and problems and my daughter’s as I felt this was the right thing to do as her mother.
I felt so alone, I felt broken and despair came over me often, I couldn’t see a way out. It felt like I was living in an in-between world, left what we know in South Africa for a better life but we just encountered more problems.
I had days when I would drown my sorrows in wine and was smoking, mostly because I did not know how else to cope with what was going on in my life. I never went out alone with friends as my daughter needed me and it cost a lot of money for babysitters and money was a problem as I was alone again. I was not going to give up as I knew there was a bigger purpose for me, for us. I made it work, I had to for her.
I got a new job and relocated again to Surrey. Another move, new places, hoping to meet people and friends or similar moms in my situation as all this time I was pretty much on my own. Having 1 or 2 couples I knew that were amazing during this journey of ours. I think at this point I was longing for someone to reach out to for help, someone who understood and could say to me it will be ok. My friends and family in South Africa could not always understand and be there as life moves on and people drift apart when there is distance.
And unfortunately my daughter’s father has not been present or made much of an effort over the last 6 years to form a bond with her even though I have tried, this has left many scars in her heart which I feel I need to heal for her.
Just when I thought, “A new start for us in Surrey”, more challenges were waiting…..
(Official Diagnosis 2013)
Living in Surrey became challenging. My amazing daughter was turning 10 years old and had somewhat changed to be a nightmare, the worst child in the world, it felt like I had 10 children not 1. I was not getting sleep as she was keeping me awake until the morning hours. I was shouting every day. She was getting into trouble at school, bit a boys finger, I was told every day that she got into a fight and when picking her up from after school club there was always something wrong. She had no manners, was impulsive, had no friends, was self-harming by pulling her hair, bagging herself against the wall and throwing tantrums like a 2 year old. On top of this she had such bad separation anxiety that some days I had to drag her to school half dressed as she didn’t want to leave me, I could not even go to the toilet on my own. It felt like I was in prison.
I was the breaking point. So I went to the GP, and after a lengthy process she was formally diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety Disorder, ODD and general learning disability. She had to take medication to help her focus at school.
I was told back in South African she may have ADHD as her dad has it but never thought it would get to this level before we found out.
It’s been a journey with her and her mental health disorder, it’s been up and down over the years. But again I have refused to give up, I have been able to meet some valuable people in our lives and find support for her. I have read many books and researched about this disorder and am still learning daily. One of my goals with personal training, nutrition and coaching is to find other ways to help her and others deal with anxiety and ADHD.
I accepted that my daughter would be different, would not be ‘normal’ whatever normal is these days. I knew the journey would be tough with her diagnosis but I made a choice, we would make it.
Our motto is …Normal is boring and why do you want to fit in when you were born to stand out…
(Choices made 2016)
I was able to start working part time at my previous job and be home for her in the afternoons to give her some stability and work through her stress and anxiety. This was a stressful time as the job was demanding and I was coming home to a stressful house with no support.
The years of strain took its toll, I was drinking excessive amounts of wine, some days 2 bottles a day on my own, and smoking and sitting on the couch for relaxation.
As time went by I found myself just surviving one day to the next and eating, drinking and smoking was helping me survive. I put on so much weight and was very unhealthy. I didn’t care about myself as my focus was all for my daughter. I was unhappy, depressed, stressed, lonely, and unhealthy, fed up, anxious, some days I felt like giving up and wanted to quit life.
However I couldn’t quit, I could not give up, something kept me going, I had to be strong, I had to be there for my daughter, I could not let the pressures of life get to me.
Around May 2016 I went to a fit camp with some friends during which we had a presentation to monitor your body stats. I found out I was had a metabolic age of almost 57 years old and I was obese. Wow, what a shock for someone that was always healthy in SA and was fit and slim in my younger years.
I had to make some drastic changes, so I made a choice….
I stopped smoking, stopped drinking wine, joined a fit camp, hired a personal trainer to help me and stopped consuming junk food. This was the start of my journey, I managed to lose 6.7% body fat, 13lbs and become fitter and stronger. I was focused on being healthier and being a good role model for my daughter because in the last 6 years I had lost the plot, I lost myself and everything else.
Now I had to pick up the pieces and rebuild bit by bit. I was able to come second in the Surrey Body challenge contest (local fitness competition) and was also a regional finalist winning cash prizes for both.
Even though I was achieving all this I still felt like something was holding me back to achieving my full potential. I was still drinking but not as heavily and using an e-cigarette. Not ideal. I felt like I still had demons holding me back.
I signed up for a Personal Training course and thought of possibly leaving my stressful job so I could be there for my daughter full time as a Carer and support her and help her achieve her dreams and also be able to live out my dreams and passions as I would then have the time.
Life changing moments (2017)
I have had many life changing moments as many of us have, but these were big.
Guess what? I did it, I was able to leave my job and become a full-time mom and carer for my daughter. Financially it would be extremely challenging so I got a part time job as a receptionist and worked a few hours over occasional weekends.
I now had the time to go to the gym every morning, time to focus on what’s important in my daughter’s and my life, time to plan, time to wash the dishes, time to sit and talk to her and hear what she has to say. Time to support her at school, to help her with her homework, just time to be a family again. I am forever grateful for the realisation that I needed to change, to focus on what was right for us as a family despite knowing I wouldn’t have as much money or freedom we would hopefully be happy.
I knew I could still do more, although I had achieved so much already, there was more to accomplish in my life, I was just not sure how I would be able to do this as I knew there were a few things still holding me back from living a fulfilled life.
I was able to recognize the demons in my life that were holding me back and stopping me from achieving more, so I have stopped smoking all forms of nicotine, I rarely drink now, I have changed my exercise to really push me, I’m focussing on the things I want to do with my life for a change it’s not just about being a single mum, it’s about me again but in a way that gives us both a better life.
I am learning every day. I feel renewed and inspired, there is so much out there to achieve and do and enjoy. I realise I needed to let go of things that were not serving me or my daughter, be that people, activities or what I was putting in my body.
I have learnt from all of this that if I want to be an inspiration to others I need to live an inspired life daily. I have also come to a realization that there’s no reason why we need to go through the turmoil I did. I realise I created a lot of this and just needed to get out of my own way. I believe I can now be a living example and inspiration that despite what life throws at you, you can always make the best of it.
(What does the future hold ……)
I never had a plan when I quit my job, I took a leap of faith and knew it had to work or at least I would make it work somehow.
Now the future is me living life each day to the fullest, dedicating my life to my daughter, following my dreams, desires and passion. Being the best version of me. Being brave and conquering both our fears and anxieties, I would love to help and inspire other single moms, mothers and people out there to achieve similar lives and futures as the one I have and want for my daughter and I.
My first passion is my daughter and always will be however I have such a hunger and passion to help others like I have been helped and supported
I believe that there are people out there that also are calling out for help and support, single moms that have a passion and dream that they have never fulfilled. Mothers that hate themselves for not taking care of their bodies and health. Parents that can’t cope with their children with ADHD and Anxiety. Humans that have no life left in them to carry on because of what life has thrown at them.
I would love to reach out and pay it forward and give out what I have to give. Below are a few things I am passionate about giving back to others …
– Help single moms achieve their goals and be empowered
– Help moms and woman through hard times in life
– Motivate people in their day to day lives and support them when facing issues
– Help moms, single moms with nutrition and exercise regimes
– Help parents with ADHD kids.
– Support group and motivational talks for mothers, single moms and single parents
– Help people live life to the full with passion, energy and commitment
– Help people to be empowered to become the best version of themselves
– Support people with Mind and Body Transformations
It doesn’t stop here, it starts here and this is my journey….
Lidia’s Event is on Saturday 6th July 2019 ‘Single Parents! Be Your Own Superhero’
I have no doubt of the calibre of Single Mums in the UK and the SMBN is here to ensure that these ladies get the recognition and exposure they deserve, and the best possible opportunity to succeed in enjoying their families and achieving financial freedom.
Lidia will now enjoy exposure to her business with every visit to the SMBN and associated PR. Please don’t hesitate to join us if you are a Single Mum working hard to pay the bills alone, we are here to help you. You are not alone x