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The other day I saw a Tweet. From a woman like me, with two small children and a work-at-home job. The tweet was willing her husband to get home so he could take over some parenting duties after she’d been alone with her kids for two days.
It made me think that maybe I have this single parenting thing down now?
I don’t judge anyone who finds being solely responsible for their children for long periods of time difficult, not at all. A year ago that was me; when my marriage was going down the pan the very idea of being a single parent for any period of time, let alone forever, struck fear into my heart. You get used to what your lot is and if your husband is there to take a bit of parenting pressure off you then you enjoy it, it’s almost a part of your life you take for granted.
But it made me realise that I no longer freak out about parenting my two children, two toddlers, on my own.
It’s been a year since Will started staying away from home and 6 months since he completely moved out. That’s 6 months of me being primary carer, primary disciplinarian and main parent of a one year old and a three year old. 6 months of me being the one to deal with 90% of the nighttime wakeups, the 5am starts, the sickness bugs and runny noses. I manage all prescriptions, school decisions, doctors visits and playdates. I decide which car seat is the safest, when the baby moves into a toddler bed, what clothes both kids wear, what they eat. It is a huge responsibility.
I don’t begrudge anyone at all who finds a few days on their own with their kids a struggle – not at all. That’s who I was before I got divorced and our problems are all relative. It used to send me nuts when Will left me alone for a couple of days with the kids. But it does make me proud of the fact that I now do this on my own. Every day.
I’m lucky in my situation than others may be as my parents live close by and their support is a real help. Hux goes to my mum two mornings a week so I can work and they have a sleepover every so often. Will has them most Wednesday evenings and every other weekend so I do get the kind of ‘time off’ that I would never have dreamed about before I was single. It still gets tough though. My days always start early and there’s nobody to share that 5.30 wakeup with, and on the days that either of the children or, god forbid I am ill… it’s hellish.
I get jealous when I see other mums’ husbands walk through the door at 6pm ready to help with bedtime. It makes me sad to see the weekend fun some families have as a happy foursome. And my tired eyes wish there was someone to share those early starts with. But you know what? I don’t think I would have it any other way.
The single mum thing has had an incredible impact on my relationship with my children. Before I was a single parent there were times where I saw myself only tolerating them – counting down the time from wake up til bedtime when I could be alone again. Now we truly enjoy each others company and get so much out of one another. They have flourished since the separation, have come on in leaps and bounds. Our bond is incredibly close and special and we are a definite tight team of three.
The life of a single parent definitely isn’t easy but my little family of Elfie, Hux and me, we do it well. And I’ll tell you one thing… you never know how able to cope you are until you just do it.