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The hardest part about single parenting is not the financial aspect like everyone who isn't a single parent thinks. And believe it or not, we aren't all mourning the fact that we are single. I realize that the general consensus is that a single mom couldn't keep the dad while a single dad is a hero for taking on the role. I call bullshit on both, but that's not the point.

The hardest part about being a single parent is that there is no point of reference. I don't sit down with anyone and try to decide on the right path and then modify as needed. I wing it. I do what I think is best and I always wonder exactly how many ways I've screwed up, but I can't ask other parents because they raise their children based on their own family dynamics and experience.

During the preteen and teen years, I can screw up just by breathing. Everything starts an argument and nothing is good enough, whether it's because it's misunderstood or because it really just isn't good enough. If you aren't here yet with your own child, prepare for it as best you can now because your ego is going to get its ass kicked. That dinner he loved last month? This week he wouldn't feed it to the hogs. That day you had planned for just the two of you to have fun? That will be the day when your very expression is offensive and nothing at all that you had in mind can be found to have any positive aspects.

Sometimes, I just need to walk away but that isn't an option. When you have a kid who has been bailed out on by just about everyone he cares about, looking at your back is the one option you can't offer. Because even in that moment when you want to scream and you have nothing else left to give, your presence at least indicates that you're not bailing out.

I'm not bailing out. Not ever. When I get that moment alone and my head stops spinning I realize something crucial.

Whatever I'm feeling, however overwhelmed I am and however battered my ego might be, I really can leave if I want to. I have that level of control over my life because I am an adult. He doesn't. He is overwhelmed with emotions that he is just learning to manage. His brain is not even fully developed yet, so sometimes he does miss the obvious points and he doesn't always handle his emotions in the best way, but he can't leave.

Just think for a minute about how important that is. Imagine you're a preteen or a teen. You are pissed and you really have no idea why, except that everything just seems to suck and every word that comes out of your mouth comes out wrong. You can see that the one person who has always been there for you is distraught and you are just waiting to see their back, just like you've seen everyone else's. But you can't leave. You can't do any of the things that an adult would do because although you are feeling like your emotions are bigger than any adult, you don't have the same options.

The single parent dynamic? It means staying when you really want to run. It means knowing that it's not just a matter of time until someone comes home with a fresh perspective and maybe an inkling of a plan. It means that even on the days when you are emotionally exhausted and you struggle to find a reason to get out of bed, there is one person who counts on you to get your ass out of bed every day and do it all over again.

My blog this month is dedicated to those who are struggling and I know this post may not seem to aim for that, but I think it's important that single parents know they aren't alone. I feel alone on a regular basis, but it isn't because I'm a single parent. If anything, that's what drives me to do more than is expected. And sometimes that means I sit down and write when I really want to stand up and yell.

So what is it you do when there doesn't seem to be anything you can do?

2 comments:

  1. Good question. I keep moving because I don't have a choice and if I sit and think about it too much, my own shit gets in the way and before I know it, I'm moving but I'm moving backward. If that makes sense. Hang in there, I think trying to put yourself in his shoes makes a difference. The worst part of childhood is not having control over anything and not being able to leave is part of it.

    Btw, been considering addressing how society views single dads as heroes an single moms as incapable whores. But, maybe I'll leave that to you? ;) Great post, btw.

  1. Christina I totally get that. If I can't sit still and write I usually clean. So if my house is spotless, I'm either really on top of things that week or there has been some catastrophe in the land of single parenthood. And yes, I do know what you mean by your own shit getting in the way. Mine does too, which is why I just need to step away from the situation.
    Have at addressing the whore thing. Give me a link when you do. I'm sure I'll come back to it as well. I mean...how could I not? lol

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