Published on October 29th, 2013 | by Kelly Rose Bradford0
Partner away? Er, no that does not make you a single parent!
A friend recently told me – in weary tones and with much head shaking – that she now totally appreciates ‘how hard’ it is for lone parents.
Because her partner had been away on business. For two nights.
“I was, for 48 hours, a single parent,” she told me dramatically.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this from pals – a couple of years ago I touched on it here.
My lone parenting journey has evolved and changed in many ways since I first became my son’s main carer, but there are a few things which stay the same – my lack of childcare and my battle to juggle working full time with raising a young child. And sometimes, my battle to make other people appreciate just how hard this is; to make them understand that I can’t just ‘do’ stuff, or accept certain invitations, or take on a job at short notice, because there is only one of me.
While I don’t doubt my friend missed her husband, and the kids missed their night-time routine of bath and stories with him, they did all know he was coming back at the end of the week (no doubt bearing much chocolate and duty free, to boot).
In my circumstances, and those of the many lone parents I speak to, it is the relentlessness of knowing that no one is going to come through the door in eight hours, or tomorrow, or at the end of the week and take over which makes solo parenting so, so difficult at times.
Despite my friend’s gripes being ones I was totally familiar with and uber sympathetic to – not being able to take a bath without the kids constantly interrupting, being unable to take the dog out for its evening walk because the children were in bed, and not having anyone around to stop their high pitched bickering when she was on a work phone call – I didn’t really think this could ever be equated to full on, full time single parenting.
Like I say, I TOTALLY sympathised – but after years of this being my life rather than a two-day glitch, I did rather want to tell her to just deal with it.
As a working mum (or indeed just as a mum!), I know I’m not alone in having a day that starts at 6am (frequently before) and which seldom ends before midnight, fitting in full time work with school runs, after school clubs, music lessons, and housework. I’m not alone in struggling to fit it all in alongside spending some actual QUALITY time with my child (as opposed to ‘chore’ based time). I’m not alone in constantly having to say no to evening work events (or breakfast ones) and even sometimes school meetings because I have no one to hand over to. I’m certainly not alone in sometimes struggling to do it all. I wouldn’t change my life with my son for the world (well, I might get a spare room and a live in au pair if the wish Genie appeared) but ultimately, I am very much ‘alone’ and in purely practical terms, it’s not always easy.
I know parenting can be challenging full stop, but when people are just one down for a night, or a couple of days, it is really not the same as solo parenting full time, is it?
As perhaps proved by what occurred when my friend got her husband back: she ‘celebrated’ by going out for a wine-fulled evening with the girls, gleefully saying it was her turn to give him a ‘taste of single parenting’…
(I was invited but I couldn’t go – I didn’t have any childcare.)
Have you encountered this kind of thing? Please share you experiences in the comments box!