Single parents, I respect you
Single parents – just… wow. My god, do I respect you.
You see, I was primarily brought up in a single parent family. It was incredibly dysfunctional and damaging and had a lot to do with my diagnosis of pre and postnatal depression with my own pregnancy. You’d think that would make me stereotypically biased against single parents. A lot of people in my position would think all single parent families end up that way. But no, I don’t tar everyone with the same brush, and maybe mine was so terrible because of how hard it was? Who knows. What I do know is that the majority of the time, single parents are heroes.
Aimee’s blog post on the new baby bubble rang true for me, and made me think about some things. I couldn’t help but think what I would have done if I hadn’t had the support of my partner in those crucial first two weeks. Jamie even said to me in hindsight he shouldn’t have taken the second week of paternity leave. Even with that second week I wasn’t ready to be a parent on my own. I had a vaginal birth and needed stitches but it was otherwise uncomplicated. Imagine if that had been a C-section… how would I have coped? The answer is, I wouldn’t have.
For a bit of context, Jamie used to do shift work, which meant for 7, 5 and 4 days at a time he would be away. I wouldn’t see him until the end of that shift pattern. It also meant that the days in between he was there constantly to help, but the days without him put a huge strain on me. With PND skulking over me like an angry raincloud it was terrifying being alone with a baby some days. He no longer works there. Luckily, at the moment his job means he’s home fairly often, but next year he could be away for 6 whole months.
Alone… but not a single parent
6 months alone. Just a nearly 2 year old for company. Will it be easy? Are we going to be okay? Will me and my daughter have an unbreakable bond because I was the only parent around for 6 months when she was a toddler? Will she resent her dad? All of these questions are spinning around in my head and I know I have nothing to worry about.
Some mothers and fathers have to cope every day like this, not just 6 months. What am I complaining about? But it scares me. I’m in awe of how people must manage every day like this and go on to raise loving, clever and wonderful children. You don’t need two parents to bring an amazing boy or girl up to be an equally amazing man or woman, but it makes it a hell of a lot easier having that other person around to help.
I don’t think people say it enough. I think there’s still a stigma around being a single parent. That’s partly why I wanted to do this blog post, to tell you that for me, you guys are absolutely bossing it.
So do me a favour… tonight, get the kids to bed, pour yourself a large glass of wine or crack open a can of lager, kick back, put your feet up and know that you are incredible. Even if you feel like you’re failing, we all have those moments, and you are most definitely not.