Dear Single Parent,
You are not alone, although at times it feels more alone than anything else, ever.
It can really depend on the part of this path you are on as to how you might be feeling in your role as a single parent. I know that those first few months can be filled with fear. I know that fear intimately, and I know that it will pass. “This too shall pass.”Hold onto that thought when the fear threatens to cripple you.
As I have said before, single parenting is most likely not something that you aspired to when you dreamt about becoming a parent. Even if it was intended, necessary or came about through a great loss .. it is often judged. The judgement and stigma can really hurt. If I can offer you some words of wisdom about the judgement it is this, hold your head high and remember that judgement is usually a reflection of the person who delivers it. It is never really about you.
At times you may ache for someone to walk through your door and announce that they are home. I know that doing everything is exhausting, and longing for someone to help with the cooking, shopping, cleaning, parenting, washing, organising, tidying and other daily demands can feel relentless.
It is often the case that you find yourself focused on what is missing. It is sometimes a default and mindless place to go with your thoughts and I know that in the end it is unhelpful to stay there for too long. It is actually in these dark corners that you can find the resilience to turn things around for yourself. Single parenting is hard, it is not the end of you or your precious life though, please remember that.
The future often feels uncertain, the emptiness and the loss that accompanies many single parents into their new reality can be overwhelming. I want to suggest something hugely important here, sometimes things need to fall apart for you to truly wake up to what is possible for you. I know that this may seem impossible through the pain, read it again though and hold onto the hope that I am trying to share.
“Sometimes things need to fall apart to truly wake up to what is possible for you.”
It is perfectly OK if all you managed to do today was the absolute essentials. If there is a list of ‘nice to do’ things glaring at you, filled with hopeful thoughts and dreams, it can wait. It does not mean that the dreams are dismissed, hold onto them and the space will open up for you to pursue them soon.
I have found that some evenings are a bit chaotic, that is normal in every household, not just for single parents. Try to focus on each moment, do the best that you can with what you have and remember that every night eventually comes to an end no matter how far it seems to stretch in front of you. If you are sleep deprived, starving or simply so exhausted that having a shower is too much effort, tell someone. Tell me here in the comments. You are not alone.
It is all good and well to have the best intentions as a parent, I know that you are bombarded with advice and pressure. The pressure to be a perfect parent is overwhelming in the information age. If you are not serving Paleo everything, green smoothies, raw food lunch boxes and cooking everything from scratch are you really a bad person? Hell no. Some days you will pack whatever you can find in the house in a lunch box and that is OK. Some nights you will cry because you need milk and your toddler is sleeping.
Single parenting is about adjusting to your new reality, being flexible and adaptable as it unfolds. It is also about believing in yourself and celebrating the small wins. I have learned that it is very much about owning your story, never apologising and connecting to others who share your experience. I have lost friends, friends who found it too hard to work around a schedule that can make you dizzy at times, friends who just don’t get it and who don’t make the effort to get it. Its not really that hard to get it, if you love someone enough.
As you move further down the path of single parenting there are things like dating and finding love again to throw into the mix. I think that deserves a post of its own though! I will say that my learnings are immense on this one, and the most important thing to remember is that you should not settle. A single parent and their child (or children) deserve love and happiness just the same as everyone else.
You are doing an amazing job, it does get easier as you learn more about what works for you and your new reality. As you go to (or collapse into) bed each night try to focus on 3 things that you were grateful for, rather than on what you think is missing.
Huge love and respect and understanding, Lisa xx