Parenting is hard – I don’t think that comes as a huge surprise to anyone, but it must be 900 times harder to do it alone. I spend much of my ‘parenting’ time validating everything I do with my partner – and he does the same. Between us we seem to roughly work out what the hell we’re supposed to be doing, and having one other person with as much of a vested interest in your child/children makes all those (millions of) decisions a tiny bit more bearable.
We have just recently come through a bout of illness in our house, and let me tell you, it resembled a war zone. I’m currently between blaming a waterpark and a banana for infecting my 19 month old, but in all honesty I’ll never know what started it, I don’t really have time for forensics these days. I shan’t go into the gory details, but my reason for sharing this is because I found myself thinking about how I could not possibly have coped alone. How on earth do single parents do it? I must confess, we are living in what I call the ‘low support model’ of parenting – meaning we have no family or obvious support network around us – no babysitters, no one who loves us unconditionally and is there to help out in emergencies – and that is through our own doing – moving to the opposite side of the world has its downsides. I’m sure there are single parents out there who have a lot more support than we do, but unless you have your Mum living with you (and really, that’s not going to work long term is it?), it wouldn’t take the place of that back up person; the one to compare notes with, the one to swear at when you’re feeling at your lowest and most vulnerable, the only other person you completely 100% trust with your children’s lives.
Single parents are warriors. I feel like a warrior sometimes (battle scarred and all) – and I have someone to rely upon – and currently I’m not working. Knowing how hard I find it at times, it amazes me how single parents find that strength to keep on going. Picture the scene of kids pushing your buttons over and over and over, you’ve had little to no sleep and your toddler is doing a good impression of a screaming banshee, the house is a mess, and at some point you need to earn some money and look presentable at work. Ah yes please, I’d like another serving of that for the next 18 years thank you very much!
I know children bring intense joy (juxtaposed with intense fear) into our lives; they help us revalidate ourselves, learn about ourselves, become more tolerant, selfless, giving, caring… the list is endless on my self improvement journey that’s for sure – so there are many many benefits and exciting new things to behold (otherwise why would we bother?). At the same time however let us take a moment to celebrate and revere those single parents who are simultaneously being Mum and Dad, the all seeing eye, the carer, the breadwinner, the example setter, the counsellor, the one who kisses better, the chef, the cleaner, the fun maker, the discipliner. It’s a tough gig and I just wanted to say – respect to you all.