I can finally feel the joy of being a single parent.
Becoming a single parent when my son was five months old felt like trekking off alone into the dark wilderness where the wind was biting and howling and I had this precious little baby to protect and to shelter.
I didn’t know whether I could do it.
None of my friends were single parents. Not all of them were married but all were happily coupled. On my single parent journey I had no map and the path felt totally untrodden. It has taken me a while to realise how awesome being a single mum can be and to really appreciate the joy of being a single parent.
Don’t get me wrong, there are downsides, but there are wondrous and wonderful moments too. This blog post is a glass half full post. At times being a single parent really is a great thing and I am very lucky.
When we first moved into our flat two and half years ago, it felt like peace had finally descended. The anger and the bitterness between me and my ex was still there, but because we were no longer living together it was no longer in our faces. Far from being a ‘broken-home’, mine and Cygnet’s home is a happy and calm home (except when he is having a threenager tantrum, but that’s another story).
During the day there is no one I have to explain my decisions to or consult on any matter. There is just me. I am the line of authority. I give Cygnet a range of options that suit me and he chooses between them. Things are simple and easy.
Of course, as a single mother in a co-parenting relationship I have to consult Cygnet’s father on the big things. School choices for instance will be an important discussion. Christmas and birthdays and our schedule for co-parenting Cygnet are significant talking points. But the smaller day-to-day things like what to have for dinner, or going to the cinema, or what to wear, or whether or not to go to the park don’t require discussion or consultation. After a period when the slightest and smallest decision could turn into a great conflict, the freedom to decide on the small stuff is incredibly liberating.
I have no man to cook for or look after. I can cook what Cygnet and I like to eat and don’t have to keep up with my ex’s latest food fad.
The mental load is less because I only have to worry about us. I just do the stuff myself, or I decide that it is not important enough to be done. Living like this is so less stressful. There is no frustration or lingering disappointment that you get with a partner who comes in, sinks into the sofa for the evening and expects to be fed, gets frustrated when dinner isn’t quite ready yet, has to eat a chocolate bar because dinner is late and “his blood sugar is low” and gets chocolate all over the sofa. I had a full time job too!
Mine and Cygnet’s time is special. It is just us and we can indulge in each others’ company. We can read stories, we can role down the slope at the local park, we can go to the theatre. We can sing songs and act out stories from his Cbeebies magazine.
Once you get over the fear of the dark wilderness of single parenthood, the cold air is bracing and invigorating and the wind no longer howls – it sings a tuneful and joyous melody.
The joy of being a single parent is real.