A number of times recently I have heard various (mostly) women complain about being a "single" parent.
A fair thing you may think...
The thing is that none of the four women in this case, were single, all of them married/partnered, all of them living with their partners & father of their children. None of them have ever truly known, or do I ever hope they know, what it is like to be a single/sole parent. Three of them are mothers who work in the home and have partners who go out to work to bring in a high enough income so they don't have to, two of them also have house cleaners & nannies. Their husbands/partners were either absent due to work commitments, unwell or just plain unwilling.
Being a sole parent for eleven years I think I am quite well equipped to know & comment on exactly what it is like...
...to be the only person in your child's life who has sole responsibility for the decision making,
...the only person who brings income into your household,
...the only person who is up in the middle of the night worried sick because your child's fever won't come down,
...the only person who has to decide whether to send your child to school the next day when they are probably ill enough to be at home but knowing that if you don't work then your income will be docked
...which in turn means deciding whether to eat or pay the bills so you have heating/electricity that week,
...that you hope your car can survive another month or two without being serviced
...that you need to lay-by birthday and Christmas gifts up to six months ahead because you wouldn't be able to afford them otherwise,
...that YOU go without new clothes and shoes so that your child/children can have theirs.
It means you can (almost) never have a night off without having to pay for the luxury of a babysitter, that you have to do all of the household chores...cooking, cleaning, shopping, yard work, picking up the bloody bath toys yet again...EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.
It means that when you are unwell and really need to rest that there is no back up, no-one else to cook for, love and entertain your child while you recover.
It means that you keep food in the lower cupboards so that if, God forbid, anything happens to you in the home and you are unconscious or dead that your child will be able to get something to eat AND that at a very young age your child knows how to call the emergency services and negotiate the deadlock on the doors for the same reason.
It means that you often work in menial jobs because they fit in well with having to be there to drop off and pick your child up after school OR arrive home from work & school at 6pm with dinner not even in sight.
...the list is endless...
Sole parents are my heroes. Most of them are not sole parents by choice, I certainly wasn't nor had I ever expected to be but I was and did a great job (I think so anyway) at it. I just wish that other parents would give some thought to what it is really like being a "single" parent before they complain about their lot.
Okay...climb down from soapbox now...