Is single parenting really THAT different?

Mum quote

See how this says “mother”? It’s because it is the same for all mothers, single or otherwise

When I first started this blog, clearly, with a title like “mummyflyingsolo” I intended to write quite a bit about life as a single parent. I was pretty new to the team at that stage and figured I’d have plenty of fodder at the ready that could help other single parents too.

But here’s the thing. After doing this gig for about 2 years now I have learnt one thing and one thing only: parenting is parenting. It doesn’t matter who you do it with. It’s relentless and hard and you will have good days and bad. Just like all parents do.

I know parents in relationship that have a tougher time than I do.

I know other single parents that do it much tougher than me.

And we are all on the same journey: it’s called PARENTING.

That’s it.

The other thing that has made me keep pretty quiet on the topic is that I am pretty fortunate as far as single mothers go. I have an ex who believes that his son shouldn’t live in poverty. He believes that in order for his son to have the best life at home that I, as a mummy, need to be happy and sane.

This stuff is not rocket science but sadly, not all exes see the connection between how the ex lives to how the children live. Either that or they are so filled with bitterness they simply do not want to consider it.

So I feel it is not my place to shout from the rooftop: I’m a single parent. Look at what a great job I do! Because I have it easy compared to many. I get substantial child support and if I ever EVER ever needed money because I just couldn’t afford something Monkey’s dad would hand it over in an instant.

We weren’t always here. It has taken time and I’ve shown myself not to be wasteful with money and to be very fair with expenses so he respects that. It is a two way street.

Anyway, back to the rooftop shouting. I don’t feel like I deserve to do it as I don’t suffer, not compared to some. So I don’t identify with quotes like this:

Single parent quote

This is not me.

Some single parents get no child support, some get no break as the ex refuses to be involved, some are in violent situations and are sincerely scared for their safety and that of their children. That shit is tough and SHIT. Parenting his hard enough as it is without all that lunacy thrown into it. Making it through all of that alive, sane and with your kids intact must be quite the mission. People that make it through this can wear that quote with pride. But not me.

Me, I get a break, probably more of a break I would have ever been able to get if I was still with Monkey’s dad. His dad has him for at least 24 hours every week. If I’m struggling he will do an extra night for me when he can. We work it out.

And what about the ones that we forget to acknowledge? The married single parents? The ones whose partners do nothing by choice. The ones whose partners work away for extended periods of time (fly in/fly out work and defense work for example). Or those who simply do really long hours at work as there is no other option. If you are going to be the GM of a company it doesn’t happen by working 9-5 my friends.

This group of people deserve a huge acknowledgement as they are essentially doing it on their own with no one even considering how challenging it must be for them. In a way I think it is almost easier for me as I don’t have to feel any sense of expectation that my partner should be helping out. Nor do I have that sense of loneliness that must come from having the one you love live so far away from you and your kids for the majority of the time. It is a huge sacrifice that these families are making. And those mums (and I just say that as it is mostly the dads who work away so hang onto your hat and try not to be offended) are pretty much single parents.

Spare a thought for these people. They are doing it toughMe on the other hand, my life is a piece of cake in comparison. Yeah my family isn’t local and yeah I am doing the bulk of parenting independently quite a large portion of the time but we are happy and we aren’t on struggle street and my son’s dad is heavily involved. There’s nothing amazing about what I do. Most mums seem to do pretty much all the shit that I do. Sure, there are some who have it better but the flip side is that they have an additional person whose wants and needs they need to consider on a day to day basis. No one complains if I don’t do the dishes, clean up the toys or cook toast for dinner and I love that.

So that’s why I don’t write about single parenting that often on my blog.  I think it is THAT different for many but that it’s not THAT different for me but in the end, regardless, we are all just parenting. And I can write about that without the “single” tag in front of it. Just in case you’ve ever wondered.

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38 thoughts on “Is single parenting really THAT different?

  1. Parenting is parenting, whether you have a partner in raising your kids or not. However, I still give the props to single parents. I applaud them. My mom was a single parent and I just realized this now that it must have been tough not being able to share her how her day went to anyone at night. It must have been hard not to have anybody to wake up and night to help clean the mess I made when I was sick. No words like “We’ll get through this” from a husband/partner which can lift the world up when everything is going crazy. We do what we do and lucky are those who do not have to do it alone.
    I think single parents (including the married single parents) are awesome. 🙂

    • Yeah the emotional support is a biggy however sadly, most of those relationships that wind up single parents never really had that in the first place. It’s hard to miss what you don’t have. That’s just from my experience. Compared to the ideal we certsinly do do it tougher but not many folks seem to have the ideal.

  2. I still don’t consider married single parents to be single parents…because they’re not!

    And there’s also us single moms (and dads) by choice! I chose to go this parenthood gig alone. So no child support, no breaks (my choice!). It is the hardest and most wonderful thing I’ve ever done. My family isn’t nearby, either, so…it’s mostly just me. I figure if I survived her infancy doing it alone, I can survive anything! LOL But I still dont like those “super hero single mom” memes.

    • Hmmmm I disagree about the marrieds. Maybe less so for those whose husbands are around on weeekends but for the ones that willingly don’t contribute or who are away for work A LOT it is really difficult and they do live the life of a single parent. Maybe not financially and to a lesser extent emotionally but it is tough and it shouldn’t be dismissed in my opinion. I think most of us do it tough one way or another, no matter what our choices. Very few live a gilded life. 🙂

  3. I like your outlook on the parenting world.. I feel too often that people feel need to justify the way their parent like everyone is constantly attacking them for it.. I like that you recognize that everyone has their own challenges and perks when it comes to the life situation they find themselves in 😉

  4. My wife and I are both reasonably intelligent, patient people, and there are many times we’ve both been at our wit’s end with the kids. I’ve often asked myself how single parents do it. Even in your situation, there are times where I just need 20 minutes to escape the lunacy, and I generally can because the wife will take the kids upstairs to bathe or whatever. I do the same for her too. That’s got to be the hardest part. The kids are always there! lol.

    • lol it definitely is the hardest part but it is amazing what you can put up with when you know that you have to. I always break on the day Monkey’s dad is coming to get him. It’s like I know that a break is around the corner so I just pack it in a few hours early.

  5. Parenting is hard work no matter if your a single parent or not. When my husband and I decided to have kids we NEVER thought he’d be away working and I’d be – what I call – a part time single parent. It has to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I LOVE being a parent (and wife) but those weeks when he is away are hard – mentally and physically on me. For me, it’s all about balance, even when you can’t find time for balance you have to MAKE time for it. That’s why I run/workout at the craziest times because my mind and body need that little escape. So good to hear you have support from your ex and yes, those dishes can and will wait 🙂

    • I totally agree. You gotta find the me time or it will kill you. I really feel for women in your situation. I think it’s even harder on you as you have the times when hubby is there and you have all the support and then all of a sudden you are on your own. That is disruptive to the flow of life and you are constantly reminded what you are missing out on when he is away. It is easier, I think, for people like me as we are doing the same thing all of the time, day in, day out, we are on our own. It is truly different.

      • It’s funny because most days when I am on my own, I simply can’t understand how full time single parents like you do it. I’ve always thought you have it harder. The good thing is to know when to ask for help, whether it be financial, time to yourself, babysitting etc. Thanks for sharing this post.

  6. I think that it is easy to see that other people’s lives are worse or more stressful than our own, but it doesn’t necessarily make our stressors less…just different. I have 4 adopted children, that have had huge behavior challenges at times. I’m lucky to have a partner to help raise them. Often, I see other families that are struggling so much worse, and it makes me feel like I really am lucky…I have it easy! In truth, I’m like you…I feel like I have it easy… However, there are definitely days I’d like to pull my hair out and cry, telling everyone “I was wrong! I do have it worse”! 😉

  7. Well, I love the Super Power memes! 🙂 I amaze myself all the time at what I have accomplished on my own! I have been very blessed with others in my life – Mr. T had a great baby sitter for years, and she and her husband are still a huge part of our lives. And a few years ago Mr. T and my parents ganged up on me and we moved closer to them – but for 9 years we weren’t close by, so it wasn’t like I could call them to come watch him. But, I do have blessings and I have had people there when I needed – and I’ll still totally own up to the fact that I have super powers!

  8. This is a great message, Rach. I was one of those absentee parents for many years while working at the technology behemoth. When I wasn’t on a plane/out of the country, I was still embroiled in work to the point that I’d get home, spend 20 minutes eating dinner with hubby and the kids and then immediately whip out the laptop and continue working. My husband came pretty darned close to the definition of single parenting for many years of our marriage. Only after I stopped the nonsense did I realize just how much I had missed, and have tried to make up for lost time ever since. Thanks for a great post and some excellent food for thought.

  9. I suppose I get it… My sister had twins, and during my tough days I always think what it would be like if I had two at once. But when I brought that up with her she said that maybe it wasn’t always a piece of cake, but there were advantages to having twins, and moreover, she didn’t know anything else. I’m extraordinarily lucky to have a husband who works all day , and then helps at night when he gets home too. I still think you have a superpower though. Some nights, if my husband had been gone one second longer, I’d have burned the whole damn place to the ground. Luv to the mum.

    • haha don’t worry, I have those days too. They usually are the day that Monkey’s dad is coming to pick him up. It’s like I know the break is just around the corner but I just can’t stand it anymore! But then there’ll be times when I have him 2 whole weeks in a row with no break because his dad goes away or something and it will be fine. I think it’s because I know that’s just the way it is. Always, always, right as his dad comes back I get the matches out to light the fire that burns the place down. It’s a mental thing as much as anything I guess. You do what you can to survive and not burn the house down!

  10. I love your outlook on this. I’ve often found myself wondering what I’d do if I were a single parent and always reach the conclusion that I’d do what I do now: take it one day/moment at a time. It’s great that your ex is supportive.

  11. Parenting is parenting, that is true, and I think you have a point in saying there are pros and cons in all forms of parenting. It is nice to read about you seeing the pros in yours! But I have to say I have been extremely happy to have a husband to hand it all to when I’ve been sick and the kids have been sick, and I’ve been thinking, that this part must really suck for single parents! A mum of three, one with sever physical disabilities, recently said that there is no point in comparing “how tough” one has it though, as if somebody feels that something is tough, it is, even though it from the outside seems less tough than what others cope with. A parent just does, what needs to be done, and as parents we can try to support each other to make it easier on all of us, and that is life. According to her. Quite insightful in my mind.

    • Oh the sick thing is the worst! THAT would be the hardest thing about being a single parent actually, having to keep parenting when you are sick. Awful.

      I love your friend. She sounds like a very wise women. She is right, there is no point comparing “tough”. It is all relative to our individual situations.

  12. Growing up with a single mom and seeing her do what she did with me and my sister and now raising kids with my husband, I have great respect for her, because I know i have it easier than she did. And watching my sister struggle with a jerk of an ex makes me very thankful for what I have. Like you said, all parents, whether single or married have challenges, they’re just different challenges. Parenting is challenging no matter what angle it comes from, we all worry about our kids and just hope we aren’t screwing them up! Great post 🙂

    • My mum was a single mum too and she def did it tougher than I do it. She DESERVED those super power memes for sure. But yes, we all have our parenting challenges no matter what our situation so it’s nice to remember that, especially if we are feeling sorry for ourselves!! lol

  13. Thank you for mentioning the married single parents. It is not easy and at times can be even more isolating than expecting to do it alone because you are single (as you mentioned.) It’s easy to get wrapped in what stress you are experiencing being everything and everywhere when your spouse is away, but we cannot forget about the parent that is away and being able to experience none of that. Not being able to kiss their child goodnight or discuss their day at dinner, but only being able to see them through an electronic device . My husband is a true hero in that he sacrifices these so that we can experience the things that sometimes is just too easy to complain about …and forget that he doesn’t even have the opportunity to.

    • No problem! I do really feel for the single marrieds. I think the emotional toll is much more challenging. You raise a great point about the parent who is away. They miss so much to provide for their family. I feel for them too. It breaks my heart every time I see footage of fathers returning from 1 and 2 year stints overseas to sometimes see kids for the very first time. To not have that relationship built up face to face over that time must be so heartbreaking for them.

  14. Pingback: Reality. She’s a real know it all biatch don’t ya think? | mummy flying solo

  15. you hit the nail on the head. parenting is parenting and it’s a tough job all over. every single parent has it different with their own challenges and have to find their way through. love your blog and happy that you are in a good place

  16. I honestly think it has a lot to do with your mind set. If you go into (or sometimes are just thrown into it) with a negative attitude it is going to be difficult. But, I never had a choice, I was basically abandoned when I was pregnant and he isn’t around. I could have felt sorry for myself. I could have whined and moaned. But, I never did. I embraced it from the second I KNEW I would be a single parent and haven’t looked back. I finished college and got my bachelors a few months ago, and I could have NEVER done this with a sour attitude. My son could never have been as happy as he is with me feeling sorry for myself. Its so much about your attitude. I don’t think being a single parent is hard at all. Maybe because that’s all I know but, I think its also because I don’t have another choice so why wouldn’t I make the best of it?

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