I’ve been a single parent for many years and the majority of the time I do really enjoy it. It’s always going to be a thousand times better than what I had previously and it works for us.
I know every family is different and every parent will have their own highs and lows about parenting solo. These are just mine.
I’m in charge. In my house I’m sole maker of rules, sole enforcer of rules. There is no one to undermine me or give the kids mixed signals. As a result every knows exactly where they stand. The kids know exactly how far they can push boundaries before grumpy “games consoles are BANNED” mum makes an appearance.
No one much likes her, me included.
I get to be the ‘come to’ person.
Questions, worries, rants, irritations I’m the first port of call on that front. Whether that’s the little one asking me to teach her Spice Girls dance moves (I really am that cool) or the eldest asking me to do interview prep with him or youngest boy wanting to talk through what subjects he wants to take for GCSE then I’m the person they (possibly wrongly) turn to and I like that. If I can at all help, guide and comfort that’s got to be one of the biggest responsibilities of being a parent. Also,it makes me feel really wise. Not much does that!
On a day when the planets align. Everyone is enjoying spending time together, and they’re just basically all being nice people, I can look at them and think that I made this happen. It’s the best feeling.
Our family dynamic works. We’ve been us 5 a long time and we’ve settled into quite a nice cosy family. We’ve our own history full of remember when’s?? Our own in jokes and we all just fit.
Ill days. I love all the things I’ve outlined above. I like feeling like the independent woman doing parenthood alone… Until I’m ill. On a day I’ve a vomiting bug or just a horrid cold and want to climb under a duvet and die peacefully, those are tough days. Really bloody hard. On those days I’d walk over broken glass to have another pair of hands to make dinner or do the school run.
The days I’m to be seen vomiting discreetly mid school run because there’s no one else to do it? They’re not my finest hour.
The dark days. You know the ones? When those lovely children of yours turn into demons.. and all at the same time! The little one is having a tantrum because no one will do a jigsaw with her, the boys are arguing about whose turn it is on the computer and eldest girl is stropping about slamming doors for one reason or another. That’s all on me. Just me. I feel like the world’s most awful failure of a parent on those days. I question my parenting abilities and my sanity and on days like that feel lacking in both.
Thankfully those times don’t last too long and someone will do something nice and all is almost forgiven,but oh they’re the worst.
The ‘I need to split myself in two days’. The elder 3 want to see something different at the cinema to the seven year old. The older kids want to go go-karting whilst the youngest wants to go the petting zoo. If I just had another person around we could split activities and keep everyone happy. As it is my negotiation skills have to come into their own those days. Worst is if sports day collides with prize giving or parents evening is same night as a concert. That’s the real killer of a decision and one you can only ever get wrong.
This one is all in my head.
A combination of anxiety and a huge, huge chip on my shoulder about being a single mum make my mind drive itself nuts.
I hate the fact that at Parents Evenings where the two chairs are set up I only occupy one. It’s always just me. My mind starts telling me that everyone is thinking ‘Oh look there’s the woman with a million kids and no father to be seen’ (I’m referring to the elder ones here little one is lucky to have a hands on daddy)
I always feel like I’m the youngest mum around at the eldest school things too which adds to it.
I think and hope I’m finally beginning to lessen that chip on my shoulder, but I think it’ll always be there in some form!
On the whole I love being just the children and I. Our (not so) little family works well for us and really that’s all that counts.