A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, my ex-husband and I had 2 boys together. They are now 18 and 21, and have grown into fabulous, if somewhat messy and eternally-hungry young men.
A few years after my divorce I met another man, found myself up the duff within 3 months of meeting him, and, to cut a long and tedious story short, have been on my own with our daughter since I was 12 weeks pregnant. He was very, very occasionally involved during the first few years of her life, and then passed away when she was 7. So, basically, I’ve been solo mama to my delightful daughter for all 13 years of her life so far.
It’s been incredibly hard, and yet also incredibly rewarding, so I thought I’d put down some more of my random musings on what I’ve learned so far.
Solo parenting is Really Fucking Hard
I think the really hard side of solo parenting is how very alone you are. There’s no one coming home at the end of the day you can vent to, lean on or be held by. There’s no one to reassure you you’re doing ok, or just hear about your day. If you leave a coffee mug on the table at night it will ALWAYS still be there the next morning. Financially, it’s also just you, unless you’re getting child support, which I wasn’t for my daughter, anyway. You’re exhausted and alone, but still responsible for putting food on the table. You also have to adult, All Of The Time! (For the record, I think this is part of the reason why, now that the kids are older, I’ve put adulting on hold for a while, lol).
Solo parenting makes you realise what you’re actually capable of
I think this is one of my favourites. You often don’t realise what you’re capable of until you’re literally forced to do it. As hard as it’s been, I’m still upright (just) and breathing, and have raised 3 caring, funny and fabulous kids. I know people who had never even lived alone until they found themselves single parents, and have been utterly amazed to view their transformations from totally dependent spouses to strong, independent individuals. Hats off to you, sisters, you ROCK!
Wine is awesome
This doesn’t require much explanation, but I think we single mamas sometimes get it more than others. It’s like the tiny reward at the end of the day, and it’s not always wine. It could be chocolate, or an Actual Hot Cup of Tea, but for me, I’ve got to admit, it’s wine. Mmmmm, wine. It’s a symbol of Alone Time, of a day completed, or an excuse to knock back the whole bottle after a particularly shitty day and drunk dial all of your exes… (I don’t advise that last one, by the way).
Women who claim to be single mums while hubby’s away irk me
There are few things that piss me off more than this. No, dear, you are NOT a single parent just because your husband or partner is away for a day / week / month. You are carrying out the majority of parental tasks on your own during this time, yes, but you are NOT a single mother. You have someone coming home. You have someone to talk to, who actually still shares the parenting responsibility even when they’re not physically present. No wine for you.
Kids of single parents learn awesome independence
My poor daughter got dragged from pillar to post as a newborn – school drop offs, pickups, work meetings, social gatherings, basically anywhere I went. She had no choice, but, by golly did she learn to sleep anywhere? Yes, she did! I admit I used to laugh at couples who refused to even leave the house during Official Nap Time so as not to upset little Johnny or little Susie’s routine. Part of that laughing was, I’ll admit, occasionally of the bitter and envious variety, but in the long run I think my kids have benefited from having to be adaptive and flexible.
As the kids have grown they’ve had to do things like make their own school lunches, share household chores, learn how to use public transportation and more, probably a bit earlier than a lot of other kids. As much as they may have (and continue to) whinge about some of this, I think they’ll find it will turn out to be a good thing.
There’s obviously a whole lot more to it, but my wrist hurts from typing too much today, so I’ll just have to get back to this topic another time.
If you’re a single mama, what has your experience been? Do you agree or disagree with any of the above? Do drop me a comment below and share your own thoughts, I’d love to read them.