Single parents are quite a controversial subject. Some tar each and every single parent with the same brush, assuming we can’t possibly manage on our own. Others think of single parents as superheroes – I like to think I’m the latter. I became a single parent after Mia’s birth in 2011. Fast forward 8 years and I’m a single mother once again, but now I have two children. Theo was born in 2013. It’s safe to say that two children equals twice the stress, twice the laundry, twice the love and twice the cuddles.
I don’t sugarcoat anything when it comes to motherhood. If you follow me on social media you’ll know I’m not afraid to admit when its been a rubbish day. My children drive me insane and fill my heart with joy in equal measure. Some days are a breeze, but other days aren’t. There is so much I wish I knew before I became a single parent. Some good, some bad, and some that only other single parents will understand.
- Guilt is something I didnt realise I’d feel so regularly. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that separation was best for all concerned, but that doesn’t stop me feeling a deep guilt when I see ‘traditional’ families with two parents walking along the street merrily. Despite knowing that both of the children are happy, content and settled in the routine they have, I worry that at some point they’ll resent the setup we have.
- When you become a parent, you have to accept the fact that your time is no longer your own. As a single parent, I find alone time difficult to achieve, despite having supportive family and friends. I can often be found sorting laundry or washing dishes at 10pm once the children are in bed. I love spending time with the children, but I never realised how difficult I’d find it to switch off from being a mum. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to use alone time to relax.
- The children’s father is an amazing dad who absolutely adores them both. We’ve worked hard to co-parent successfully. However, I had no idea that I’d still feel like everything rested on my shoulders. For example, when Theo was struggling to get his head around learning to read, I felt like it was my fault. The truth is, it was nobody’s fault, he was just going at his own pace. I felt like the world would blame me for everything that didn’t go quite right because I am their primary carer.
- Something else I didn’t realise I’d feel is jealousy. I don’t feel jealous when I see happy couples or ‘traditional’ families, but I do struggle with jealousy when the children experience something without me. I’ve been a single parent for a few years now, yet I still struggle with missing out on making memories with them. I often have to remind myself that I’m not the only one who misses out on things. It’s easy to feel like you are the only one feeling the void, but I’m sure other single parents, primary carer or not, will know how gut-wrenching it is to feign excitement for your children when deep down you desperately wish you’d have been there with them.
- I never knew how hard it would be to pursue a new relationship as a single parent. I could write an entire blog post on the complexities of dating as a single parent. In fact, I probably will at some point (keep your eyes peeled for that). Starting a relationship with someone other than your child’s father creates a whole host of scenarios that are difficult to navigate. For example, how and when do you introduce a new partner to your children? How will the children feel? I was naive in thinking that if and when I start a new relationship, it’ll be simple.
Despite the above, I think I’ve found my groove as a single parent. It’s not always easy, there are bumps in the road and I’m almost permanently exhausted. But I’m happy, the children are happy and we have adapted well to life as a trio.
I’m okay with not having all the answers, and I don’t feel like an idiot for not thinking the above through or even considering any of it before I became a single parent. That’s part of the reason why I wrote this post, to reassure other single parents that it’s okay to feel what they are feeling whether that be guilt, exhaustion, resentment or something else. It’s all normal, it’s all part of finding your way as a single parent, and you aren’t alone.
Are you a single parent who struggles with similar emotions? How do you move past those feelings? Maybe you are a married parent who faces an entirely different but still incredibly valid set of challenges? Let me know your thoughts and/or experiences in the comments section below. If you’d like to discuss your single parent struggles confidentially, please do contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.