I was talking with someone today and we were moaning, as we so normally do, about our children and our lives. I was rabbiting on about #3 and her delightful talent of not being able to self settle in the night if she wakes up and how after a week of sleeping all night she suddenly decided to be a little horror last night hence why I look like a troll today. Anyway, it culminated in her saying she felt bad for moaning because she has a husband at home to help, and that my life must be really hard compared to hers.
Well actually, it’s not. I mean life can be hard certainly, somewhat stressful mostly but isn’t that the same for us all? Parenthood is hard for everyone, regardless of what our relationship status is. We all face challenges that are unique to our own set up. My life is really pretty great, and I am genuinely proud to be a single parent. The issue with that statement is, well, its such a taboo thing to be proud of isn’t it? Because with that statement comes some pretty unique ‘single parent’ crap.
Like the guilt. And not the working mum guilt, although there is MASSES of that too. No I’m talking about the guilt over the fact that you chose the wrong ‘person’, and in my case, I made that delightful mistake twice. Yay for me. Very quickly after I fell pregnant with #3 I realized that I had picked the wrong guy and that once again I was going to be on my own. Which is something I am ok with, although not at all what I wanted for any of my children. I grew up with a mum and a dad and a really secure family unit, which is always what I anticipated would happen with my girls. It hasn’t, and in fact for #3, she will never even be part of a ‘broken’ family really. Slowly, I am learn to deal with this guilt. Making the decision to walk away from something so broken is, in my opinion, pretty brave. It’s a very hard thing to admit that you have failed, you carry around the guilt that you have let people down, it is embarrassing to an extent. You try and make it work for longer than you should because you don’t want to look like you’ve failed. But to look in the mirror every day and watch yourself disappear into a shadow of who you are, well that is worse than any guilt that might come from walking away. I am very secure in the fact that I am a much better parent because I am a single one. I am myself, and I remain true to myself and my personality every day. My girls are better off because of that.
The stigma too. Well that is pretty shit. I read an interview with a famous today where she said she didn’t feel as though society would ‘let’ her have a baby with her new partner. Because she already has two children from two previous relationships. Now that is something I can relate to. Regardless of the fact my tubes are shriveled and no longer required, it would be something I would need to soul search about a lot I think. Already I have ‘3 kids with 2 different dads’. Jesus, talk about scandalous. I can make a joke about it because I’m good with it now, but in all seriousness, its taken me a long time to be ok with it. Until recently if I didn’t have to admit to it then I wouldn’t. It’s a pretty fucked up world we live in when we can’t be ok with who we are. I think as well, society have created this whole single parent check list whereby you’re single so you must be on benefits, live in a council house, don’t have a job, go to Iceland in you pajamas and smoke all day whilst drinking Lambrini out the bottle. Sorry, but no. I don’t like Lambrini for a start and I can’t recall ever being in an Iceland. It is not fair to assume that because we are single that we are not contributing or that we have no drive or ambition. Some of the most driven, and successful people I know are single parents. Refusing to fall into the stereotype is as equally easy as it is appalling that there is even a stereotype to start with. I work hard, I study hard and I’m proud that I pay my mortgage and that my girls can see me out working and following my ‘dream’ as such.
There is also a certain feeling you get, as a parent, whether you be a Mum or a Dad, that when your child does something amazing, you feel it all the way down to your toes. That warm, heart bursting feeling of pride and love. Your kid is the most amazingly awesome child on the planet and you want to shout it from the rooftops thanks. Except no one else, except the other parent, gets the same feeling. And when you’re single, well who do you tell? Sure you can text your pal or put it on Facebook and brag about it at work, but actually, none of those people really care as much as you do. And that bit sucks sometimes (all the time). There is a certain envy that comes with being a single parent that makes me jealous of the parents who can sit down at the end of a night, or on holiday, and share the joy (or the horror) of sharing children. The excitement of meeting someone, developing feelings, and making babies is gone when you become a single parent. And it’s sort of like mourning something you can’t ever have again. I mean it annoys the ever living shit out of me when #3 gets up in the night, but she’s mine and I love her so whatever really. For someone else that shit is just, well, shit really. And when #1 got her trophy for running, and stood up at assembly in front of 500 pupils and talked about her 3.5km event she did, well it would’ve been nice to have someone to gush about that too.
Being a single parent can be hard. But not for the reasons people think. Every parent on the planet feels guilty for working. Every parent on the planet feels guilty that their kid don’t eat healthily enough, or that they shout too much, or they don’t read enough and have they been over stimulated by Uncle Grandpa and my god what if they fail at school and live at home forever!! These are things we all have to deal with, single or not. Our lives are not any harder than yours are. And actually, theres no one in my house who leaves the toilet seat up or dirty clothes next to the washing basket as opposed to in the basket. So really, I think I have the better deal.
Having said that, trying to get babysitters for three kids on a weekend where you have them all so you can go out for your friends 30th, well had I known how difficult that was going to be I might just have kept ‘wrong guy’ #2 around.