Lonely Cheryl: secret agony over separation from Bear

Cheryl is reflecting on her life and making some big changes after her son, Bear, reaches a major milestone


by Daisy McLure |
Updated on

She confessed to spending “24/7” with her son, Bear, following his birth in 2017, as the hands-on mum said she found the idea of having nannies and babysitters “alien” to her. And Cheryl – who’s been a single mum since splitting from Bear’s dad, singer Liam Payne, in 2018 – also admitted how she would not even let doctors take her newborn out of the hospital room as she “didn’t want anyone to take him”.

After Liam, 27, recently revealed that their three-year-old has started school – telling fans on TikTok how Bear’s teachers have been impressed with how polite he is – insiders say it’s brought a raft of difficult emotions for Cheryl, 37.

Pals say that while Cheryl’s happy Bear is thriving in his new environment, it’s been a painful adjustment that has left her feeling reflective over her future now that her close bond with Liam has cooled, amid his engagement to 20-year-old American model Maya Henry.

A source says, “With Bear growing up and starting preschool, she’s feeling a hint of loneliness and separation, which most mums will empathise with. It’s agonising when you have to hand them over to someone else, even if it’s just for a few hours a day. Cheryl’s friends wouldn’t be at all surprised if this sparks a new longing for her to meet someone  and settle down again.

“Cheryl’s incredibly proud of how well Bear’s doing at preschool and knows that it’s the best thing for him – especially after months at home during lockdown.

“But having him gone for chunks of the week when she’s used to being with him all the time in their own little bubble has been a bigger adjustment than she had mentally prepared herself for. She’s devoted her life to him for the last three and a half years.”

The Girls Aloud star has made no secret of the close bond she shares with her son, who she once described as “the man of my dreams”. Following her split from Liam in 2018, she revealed how the toddler still slept in her bed, describing it as “the best thing in the world”.

Girls Aloud - where are they now?


Girls Aloud - where are they now?

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During her time in Girls Aloud Cheryl married and divorced footballer ex-husband Ashley Cole after he cheated. Cheryl was also found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm following an altercation with a nightclub toilet attended in 2003. On a slightly lighter note (well, kind of) she threw a lot of shade when she said she "didn't think" Nicole Scherzinger would make it as a solo artist…

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Cheryl - 2020

Since her time in Girls Aloud, Chez has gone on to launch her solo career, she was a judge on The X Factor, moved onto The X Factor US but was sacked three weeks later and had a falling out with Simon Cowell. Despite texting him "f—k you. F—k the UK X Factor. F—k you all. I hate you," she returned to the show four years later. Cheryl has since become a judge on BBC's The Greatest Dancer. Chez was also an ambassador for L'Oreal and in 2020 she starred in the movie Four Kids and It.And after her divorce from Ashley, Cheryl got married to Jean-Bernard Fernandez but they split in 2016. She then dated Liam Payne and despite splitting in 2018 they're now co-parenting their son Bear Grey Payne.

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Kimberley Walsh

Kimberley was pretty unproblematic in Girls Aloud, although we can't forget when she completely backed Cheryl throwing shade at Nicole Scherzinger. Kimberley also didn't seem keen on the idea of the Pussycat Dolls star launching a solo career.

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Kimberley Walsh - 2020

Post-Girls Aloud, Kimberley climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2009 to raise money for Comic Relief, she has presented on TV and in 2012 she starred on Strictly Come Dancing and came runner up alongside her professional partner Pasha Kovalev. She's also married her long-term partner Justin Scott and they're parents to Bobby and Cole.

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Nadine Coyle

After Girls Aloud split in 2013, Nadine made it clear that it was not her idea. "You should know by now I had no part in any of this split business. I couldn't stop them. I had the best time & want to keep going," she tweeted at the time.

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Nadine Coyle - 2020

Nadine has pretty much become a meme after the nation discovered how she says "flour" on Sunday Brunch. She launched her own solo career, took part in I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! 2019 and following a brief split from her fiancé Jason Bell they went on to have a child and tie the knot. Unfortunately they split months before she flew out to the jungle.

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Sarah Harding

Sarah was definitely the funniest of the group. Remember at the Brit Awards in 2009 when Girls Aloud won Best Single for The Promise and Sarah shouted down the microphone, "Can I just say, it's about timmmeee… I think I just wet myself." Obsessed.

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Sarah Harding - 2018

Sarah has starred on Coronation Street as Joni Preston, she won Celebrity Big Brother 2017 and in 2017 it came to light that she allegedly had an affair with Danny Dyer back in the day. She also got engaged to DJ Tom Crane but they called off their wedding and in 2011 she entered rehab for alcohol dependence and depression.

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Nicole Roberts

Remember when Matt Willis called Nicola a "rude ginger b-tch" and she hit back but writing 'I'm a rude ginger b-tch… bothered!' on her shorts? Now that's iconic.

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Nicola Roberts - 2020

Nicola has also launched her solo career and she won the first series of The Masked Singer UK.

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She added, “I know I’m making a rod for my own back. I am aware of that. But when he was born, he used to sleep in the crib that you  put on your bed and he never really left.”

Insiders recently told Closer how she had been brainstorming new TV projects with Simon Cowell after her talent show The Greatest Dancer – on which she was a judge – was axed due to poor ratings. But pals say all talks have been put on hold following  the mogul’s recent back injury. And despite rumours she has been “hotly tipped” to replace judge Bruno Tonioli on Strictly, pals say she’s torn between work or focusing on having another baby.

Last year, the broody star confessed she was considering “other routes” to give Bear a much longed-for sibling after a friend used a sperm donor to conceive.

The source says, “Cheryl feels as if she’s at a crossroads now, both personally and professionally, and she’s trying to work out what is next for her, whether that’s a big work project or adding to her family.”

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Cheryl’s made no secret about suffering from loneliness in the past – admitting that she understood how her former frenemy Lily Allen felt when she spoke about feeling “lost and lonely.”

Reflecting on going from her days in Girls Aloud to being a solo star, she said, “Your ears are still ringing from being on stage and it’s deadly silent and it’s just you in your dressing gown.”

Watch: Lizzie Cundy Plays Celebrity Snog Marry Or Avoid | Liam Payne, Wes Nelson or Brian McFadden?

Pals say Cheryl doesn’t ever want to go back to feeling like that, so is looking at ways to keep busy and distract herself from her “empty nest” while Bear is away at nursery.

The source adds, “Cheryl feels incredibly lucky and loves being a mum. She knows this is an exciting time for Bear so she’s trying to feel positive about his first steps on the school journey.

“But she also wants Bear to grow up with siblings, like she did, and to grow up in a house filled with laughter and noise. That’s her real hope now – she’d love to fulfil her dream of having a big family.”

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