8 July 2012

Single Parent Positives.

My input has been invited to a A Mile in My Shoes Blog Carnival, run by Rebecca from Here Come the Girls, regarding trying to find the positive aspects of difficult parenting issues:

This is what she says:

'So many times I read about a person, who has got an awful lot to deal with and I wonder how do they cope. Then I wonder how would I cope. I wanted to share some of these stories and get a glimpse at what it’s really like, both the positive and negative. The thing is parenting is hard, damn hard. That’s when you have one child with no additional needs, surrounded by help.
I’m not going to lie: these posts are so truthful they will touch your heart – and a couple might just break it. But that’s what makes them important and necessary.'

I don't talk about being a single parent very often because I believe it doesn't define who I am, but here is my view:

I find being a single parent incredibly exhausting, but there are lots of positives to be gleaned.  I know people who are deeply unhappy in their relationships and, having been there, am aware of what a struggle this is and the enormous impact that alone can have on your relationships with everyone else -your friends, family and work colleagues, even cliques at the school gates, not to mention any children - including other peoples'!   

If you can't be yourself, properly, at home, then all your relationships will suffer.

Since becoming single - and the trauma of the transition has passed - the people who benefit the most are my boys. I am in a much happier frame of mind.  I know where I am.  My expectations are mainly only of myself.  I have learned to lower them.  I have learned that peace is more important.

Don't get me wrong, it's not the way it's meant to be, that's for sure.  There is a good reason it takes two to make a baby - because, in my opinion, for everyone to remain healthy and to be happy, it takes at least that many people to be involved with their rearing.

Most parents - single or otherwise - benefit from other family members to help, lean on occasionally and learn from.  Everyone gains in this situation.  Sadly, some of us single parents became quite isolated at the hands of previous partners and don't always have this luxury.  This is where friends can be lifelines.  Even at invitation to tea will invoke gratitude of a magnitude you could not imagine.  To let someone else take the strain once in a while can be magical, restorative and life affirming.

A lot depends on the ex involved regarding finances.  Mine was all right until he met another woman - and this is commonly why everything that has previously been amicable, or at the very least agreed between you, can go tits up.  As it happens, him deciding to give up work and state that, maintenance wise, 'The Well is Dry,' backfired on him big time.

It worked out to be the best thing that ever happened to us - I took in a lodger, who swiftly became a real and wonderful partner, with the advantage that the children and I had already known him as a friend for a while and it was something that took us both by surprise, plus we have taken a series of Foreign Language Students who have been a real asset - playing with the kids in the universal language that is football as well as providing them with opportunities to explore and converse in their own.

However, as hands on as my boyfriend is (and having raised a family already and truly knowing the ropes), when he feels like a lie in or ducking out of the morning mayhem /  bathtime bedlam, he just can.  He doesn't have to ask or even liaise with me.  It's at times like these though, it still hits home that it will always all be down to me.  At least he has the decency to feel guilty and occasionally make it up to me, which is more than you can say for some husbands!

Autonomy is the greatest pleasure of doing it on your own.  It's also the most trying part of it.  The practicalities are tough.  Early nights can be sanity savers and early mornings makes things easier, but I've never been very good at those.  Too much wine.  I could recommend long, hot baths instead.

The hardest periods (and there are many on your own with a baby and a four year old) have been made infinitely lighter to bear by employing a cleaner regularly, but my age might be a contributory factor towards that.

My advice would be to make the most of a period alone with your children.  You will all come to treasure this time. It will be special.  (I remember it well from when I was young, with my mother and my sister, fondly, when it was just the three of us for a while). 

And to stay in touch with people who love you.  Have them over, talk, even if it's on the 'phone.  It alleviates the loneliness and helps you recover from the day, let alone the split of your family.  Your freedom comes at a price.

Encourage those who offer to help - they actually enjoy it! 

Anything is better than being unhappy in your own home, trapped in a dead relationship.  You need to be yourself.