FACT….being a single parent is tough. Really tough. For me it was not a decision entered into lightly. The last 6 months and particluarly the last month as we settle into our new house on our own has been an emotional and physical battle.
Take for instance the whole drama of weekend access. That moment when your child runs back into your arms after a few days away with your ex partner to me is the moment I most look forward to on a Sunday. Just as I know that the moment she runs into his arms on a Friday when he gets his time with her is the most precious moment of his week.
Equally it’s destroying and emotionally crippling saying goodbye to her on a Friday morning when I drop her at school. Cynically as mum’s and parents we all crave that bit of ‘me time’ when the kids are making us tear our hair out, we moan that we never have a moment for ourselves, that we’d just like a cup of tea in peace that isn’t stone cold.
Funny but now I get two or sometimes three nights a week where I can have as much ‘me time’ as I want. It’s not all it says on the tin you know. Every night after I tuck Roo into bed I go back down the stairs of our little cottage. I enter our snuggly lounge / kitchen and motivate myself to cook a meal for one. I refuse to enter the brigade of convenience ready meals. I love cooking and won’t give that up of a night even if it feels a little lonely and empty making things in smaller pans and washing up a single knife and fork. It really is the daftest little things that can set you off when you start off as a single parent.
After that I usually retreat to my room. TV is non existent now, the sofa is empty and there’s no one to snuggle with, not every night anyway. I spend my time chasing opportunities from PR’s, paid content writing jobs and thinking of ways I can make the money go further and stretch a little more each week. Something I’m actually not very good at. Friday for an example I had a hair cut, had my nails done, went overboard and had a facial and then needed new underwear. All of this took a massive chunk out of my small wages. The result was huge guilt, absolute masses of it. I’d spent money that is vital to keep a roof over our heads. The way to fix this return the underwear, return the clothes I’d bought to TK Maxx and deny myself a decent fitting bra that I so badly need since losing weight.
It would be easy to run to the bank of mum and dad or flex the Mastercard but that isn’t the answer either. I have to learn to stand on my own two feet. Even if those two feet occasionally slip off the edge off the cliff.
It is fair to say that being a single parent is a never-ending emotional roller coaster. That’s not to say parenting when you’re a joint effort family unit isn’t a roller coaster, it is, but as a single parent there’s no respite, no one to share your frustrations with, no one to take over when you want to throw in the towel and sit in the corner and just cry. Because let’s be honest there are days when we want to do that.
That would be a cop out though. An admission of defeat and in essence saying that you’re not cut out to do this solo parenting journey. You’re wrong. To every single parent out there whether you’re the mum that looks after your child full time or the dad who gets the weekend access you are amazing at what you do. As a single parent you draw on resources and strength you never knew you had. You get creative in new ways and you strive harder than ever to juggle multiple balls in the air single handedly whilst attempting to forge a new life for yourself.
So to all the single parents out there here’s a huge hi-five from me to remind you of how bloody good we are at playing every role under the sun with a support network of the odd glass of wine, a few beers and large bars of chocolate….Amen.