As the bags under my eyes will play testament, I have been on the single parenting rollercoaster for almost three years now. It is a ride with no end, but constant twirls, thrills, dips and dives, and many, many, moments when you feel like you are going to come right off the tracks.
Before I was a single parent, I had a husband who worked away a fair bit, or put in long hours in the office (moreso as the marriage started to crumble like a soggy digestive at the bottom of the pack). I apologise wholeheartedly to any single parents who I may have massively offended with the phrase…
“Well it feels like I am a single parent, as I look after them most of the time.”
Trust me on this.
It. Doesnt. Even. Begin. To. Compare.
As a single parent I spend half my time self congratulating myself on any menial task from cleaning the kids shoes once a term, remembering world book day (and still sending them in shite outfits), and the rest of the time I spend my time googling family therapists as I am never really convinced that I am doing this parenting thing right….
Things I never knew when I was a smug married.
- Once divorced – you’ll never sleep alone again.
If it isn’t a child crawling into my bed in the wee hours, then it is one of the cats which I bought to ease the pain of Dad moving out. My bed is now a mass of legs, tails and hair – very similar to being married – without the snoring.
2. Pink/blue jobs?
Though I despise the sexist nature of the idea of the colour dictating which gender does a job, I would happily even accept a blue smurf to come in and cut the grass, empty the bins, fill the bloody car up with oil. Everything is pink in this house, unless the grime has turned it to black.
And my garden is a jungle. I don’t need a man, I just need enough money to pay a bloody gardener.
3. Nights out require a bank loan.
Get out and date they say, you deserve someone they say.
Oh my days – have you seen online dating? And when you are eventually worn down by the incessant head cases on line and agree to meet one, then you have to pay a sitter, bribe the kids with treats, usually buy new clothes – obviously. All to sit across the table from a chap you quickly realise is a head case.
4. The laundry basket refills itself whenever you leave the room.
Honestly, we are one person down in this house and I have never done as much laundry. It much be a single parent gremlin who removes perfectly good clothes from hangers and lobs them into the basket as soon as you even catch a glimpse of the bottom.
5. You will cry when anyone says nice things about the kids.
Parents evening – cried.
Nice lady in pub saying the kids were well-behaved – cried.
Dentist giving them a sticker for sitting still – cried.
When you raise your family 80% of the time solo – you want to revel when someone gives you credit. Single parents should always carry tissues.
6. You will explode when anyone critiques your kids.
Seriously, I have had Hulk moments since becoming a single mum, they are mine, all mine, and I am pretty proud of them – criticise them at your peril. Hurt them and face my wrath.
I can be scary.
Then I will probably cry.
7. Your kids will grow up to work in finance
It can be penny pniching being a single parent, kids are expensive, homes are expensive and there are not too many jobs that allow you to work around the school run, school holidays and pay the big bucks! The kids understand what a mortgage is, how much petrol costs, and know that Aldi is cheaper that Asda. We work out budgets together and they do jobs to earn pocket money. I like to think I am teaching them life skills.
8.Sometimes having no-one to share the best bits with can be tough
Lets face it, there is only one other person in the world who love your kids as much as you do. When they do something great, or even minorally outstanding, your heart can wrench when you go to tell that person what they have done; then you remember you aren’t talking because of some stupid row last week.
Times like that – I cuddle the great stuff to my chest and try and smile the rest of the day.
9. You will do stupid stuff to keep them happy
The guilt of not making it work with their Dad doesn’t really go away.
This is my stupid stuff…
10. Having every other weekend off can be tiresome
Anyone who has the impression that single parents drop the kids off, smear on the lipstick and hit the town are deeply mistaken. Most weekends find me catching up on work, cleaning the grimey house, walking the dog alone and wishing the kids were back.
Don’t get me wrong – there are times when it is seriously handy – when that play you want to see falls on a child free weekend or your friends want to go out for drinks.
But I didn’t ever plan to have a family to only see them 26 weekends out of 52.
11. Getting the kids back on a Sunday feels like Christmas
…for five minutes, then you are quite happy for them to go again when real life parenting sets in!
The last three years has made me closer than ever to my trio, I frequently choke on how much I love the little buggers. Doing this alone has been both terrifying and empowering, not neccesarily made me a better mum – but hey, I am the only one they have!
Its a rollercoaster that I don’t ever want to get off….