Someone once said to me; ‘I’d rather never have children than end up like you. No offence. It just seems horrible being a single parent.’
Admittedly, that someone was an arsehole but what they failed to realise is that only a tiny percentage of single parents actually chose to be so. I didn’t suddenly wake up one morning shouting; FUCK THIS, I BET IT’S MUCH MORE FUN DOING THIS ALONE! before packing my bags like Maria von Trapp and dragging my kid behind me. It was the toughest decision I have ever made.
The majority of us start out with a firm two parent deal in mind because well, someone once told us about a happy ending and we wanted a crack at that. We wanted to share the responsibility, safe in the knowledge that however tough it becomes there is someone there supporting us. We wanted to share our lives. We wanted to be a family.
Being a single parent is hard. It’s really, fucking hard. Everyone knows that, even Captain Arsehole above and if you don’t have a massive support network, it’s going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
Unless you’re fortunate enough to meet someone who doesn’t have a problem with single parents and respects the fact your time is limited (they’re in short supply, believe me) then you will have to get used to being alone. I’m not talking about having the occasional night on your own, I mean EVERY. FUCKING. LONG. NIGHT and you’d better find something to keep you sane. In order to fill my time, I’ve chosen to write two books but the sanity thing is still very much debatable, considering I just said hello to the spider in my bath.
Get used to your own company because there’s no one there to ask you how your day went when you get home and that’s a redundant question anyway because your day isn’t over yet, regardless of how tired you are – that was only Round One. Worst of all, once your kid is in bed, there is no one to cuddle, shag, laugh with or even make you a cup of tea.
If they’re still hands on with your child, all the better. However, having to see them twice a week in the early stages while you’re still dealing with the collapse of your relationship is a nightmare. I learned quickly that cries of PISS OFF AND LET ME GET OVER YOU were pointless. It’s like being on the worst diet ever and having to come face to face with Ronald fucking McDonald twice a week and Ronald McDonald hates you.
It took me years to be able to afford take my kid on a proper holiday and if you’re in the position to do so, here are some things they don’t tell you in the bastarding brochure. It doesn’t matter that it’s only you and your kid going away. You will still pay for an invisible adult. Room occupancy is based on two adults, so fuck you. The end.
It won’t feel like a holiday. Just because someone hands you a cocktail and the sun is out, you still have to keep your beady eye on your kid, even more so when your hundreds of miles away from home.
Think you’ll just shut your eyes on the sun lounger? Bury your head in a novel? Wrong. HIGH ALERT IS THE ONLY WAY!
Got holiday tummy? Think you’ll just pop to the toilet while they’re in the pool? WRONG. You’ll have to just shit yourself where you sit if you can’t catch their attention in time.
If they’re tired at 9pm it’s game over. Enjoy your hotel room, let’s hope it has Wifi.
This is exactly what it means. You’ll have to deal with everything. Dentist visits, doctors, nightmares, school problems, toilet training, homework, illness, school holidays, Easter holidays, no-fucking-reason-but-they’re-off-anyway-holidays, teaching them how to ride a bike, swimming lessons, after school clubs, cleaning, cooking, stories, tantrums and everything in between, all while trying to work.
I’m 7 years down the line and I’d like to say it gets easier but I’m not so sure. As your kid grows, the challenges you face don’t disappear, they just change. There is no easy way to do but you’ll do it because you have to. However hard it is or how miserable you feel, you still have to bring up a well-adjusted, happy human being. Don’t be a dick to your kid because your life didn’t turn out the way you planned.
There’s only one thing worse than an arsehole and that’s an arsehole parent.