Motherhood – the hardest job you’ll ever love, or something. It’s also the hardest job you’ll ever do. I love my children, more than I ever imagined I could love another person, and more than I sometimes show, but the reality is that motherhood is hard, not only as a single parent, but as a solo parent.
On the one hand I get all the good bits. I get the kissss and the cuddles and I am the one she wants, always. I am the one who gets to bath her and do jigsaws with her and tell her that yes it is a fish called Sam that she is eating when I serve salmon for dinner. I am the one she runs to with glee at nursery pick up nd the one she declares to be her best friend. I get all of these heart wrenching moments, and more.
But it’s also all the bad bits. It’s the nights when she won’t sleep. It’s the throwing her monster truck at me because I won’t let her have chocolate for breakfast. It’s the having to forgo a shower in the morning because she insists on joining me then won’t move over to share the water.
I get to deal with the nights when she refuses to eat her fish called Sam and just wants ‘something from the cupboard’. I get to deal with all the ‘Mummy my bum! My bum is leaking Mummy’ moments as we try and potty train. I get to not do any work when she is at home because she’s three and therefore demanding and can’t be left to watch Paw Patrol alone for fear she sharpies the cat (again). I get to always have a not quite as tidy as I’d like it house because by the time she’s asleep at night I’m ready for bed myself.
I get to share the entire burden of worry about her development, the entire burden of guilt for being a working/studying parent. I get to share the entire burden of fear that I’m not a good enough parent, that somehow I’m messing her up or doing it wrong.
Parenthood is hard for everyone, even for those who have desperately wanted children forever, none of us escaped with an easy ride. But it is especially hard for solo parents, male or female. We don’t have the luxury of handing over to someone at 6pm or every other weekend. There’s no one to share the worry burden with or the childcare cost with or even worse, there’s no one to share the heart wrenching, magical moments with. No one to tell us when we collapse into bed at night that actually we’re doing just fine.
All of my friends, including myself, have concluded at different points that yes, we knew it would be hard. We just didn’t know it would be this hard. Nobody wants to admit that it’s just really bloody difficult at times. Perhaps vocalising those thoughts would make us bad parents, or maybe it’s because inevitably the good does outweigh bad? Are we all worried that by vocalising how difficult being a parent is that we are somehow wishing our children didn’t exist? Are well just gritting our teeth and getting through one day at a time?
When in reality we’re all doing just fine?
So here’s the truth, from a solo parenting point of view: it is constant, emotionally-draining, stressful work. It is like a stormy day when the mist hangs low and the chance of rain is imminent, but then just when the clouds are about to empty, the sun breaks through. Bringing with it red skies and sunshine, warmth and hope and happiness.
It is all of that, and so much more…