Welcome back to My Mountain, following last week’s break. Thank you for all your responses to Katie’s fab post Parenting A High-Needs Baby – so many of you could relate. This week we’re hearing from Ella about the challenges of single parenting…
I’m currently taking a break from having a mini breakdown over the broken wendy house so I can write this blog post (and hopefully get it all out of my system). It’s a small thing and I’m sure I’ll get it mended in the end, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, today at least, tomorrow no doubt it will be something else. It doesn’t really matter what the day brings. It’s always relentless doing it alone. Whether it’s the day the dishwasher breaks. Or three weeks later when you finally get it mended and end up with a mini flood left by the repair man and nothing put back right. It’s just another thing you have to sort. Alone.
Today, my tasks (in no particular order) have involved: dressing the toddler, changing nappies, cooking lunch, cleaning the house, taking an overly energetic toddler to the park, posting a friends birthday present, sorting out some photos to print, mending the wendy house (OK, trying to mend it), sorting out why the boiler wasn’t working, reading stories, sending work emails, writing this bloody blog, crying, feeding little one, putting on the washing and hanging it out (I add the hanging it out because it’s a rare occasion that I actually hang the washing out within three hours of the machine stopping), helping little one to do some painting (and cleaning him up again) and writing a shopping list. There was probably more but I’m too exhausted to remember. Needless to say, my day started well before my little one’s and will end well after he goes to bed.
I love him to pieces and in amongst all that I did enjoy many moments. Like when he walked so carefully to the park, waiting at the end of the pavement to hold my hand before crossing. Or when he was making beautiful paintings (of aeroplanes). Or when I was reading him his favourite book – giggling over the actions we were both doing was a pure joy. In those moments I remembered what parenting was all about. But my memory is short. Two minutes later and I found the whole thing so.fucking.relentless.
It’s not just doing it all that get’s so tiring. It’s the planning to make sure that it can get done. Planning it down to a tee. As a single parent there is never – never – a moment when I can pop out of the house without planning it. Either I have to have arranged a sitter, which I basically never do, or take my little one too. I can’t just pop out for a pint of milk or to post a letter. It all makes for a rather tired brain. Added to that, I usually have to try and do it on the cheap. Taking the bus if I need to get somewhere. Walking to the further shop to buy what I need for cheaper. Trekking miles to collect clothes for my son off freecycle. All just to save a few quid.
I have bad days, like every parent, but even on the good days it takes so little for it all to come tumbling down because I’m at full stretch. On most days, average days, it’s just so relentless. I never signed up to this. I didn’t sign up to being a parent on my own, 24/7, 365. I didn’t sign up to being the accountant, carpenter, plumber, cleaner, decorator, teacher, carer, cook, gardener, and general bloody dogsbody. But that’s what I am. Maintaining patience with my son in the face of the bedtime battles when I have 101 things I need to do, pulling me downstairs is a near on impossible feat. On nights when bedtime is more of a struggle than usual, my head feels like it’s going to explode.
Anyway, enough with the complaining. I have a piece of wendy house roof in my lounge which I just retrieved from the neighbours’ (it had blown over the fence), so I guess I’d better go and sort it out before little one wakes from his nap. What, you thought I was writing this at the end of a long day? No chance, I’m not even half way through it!
If you too are a single parenting and you’re struggling, or you just want to meet a few other people in your position, then Gingerbread is a great resource. They have advice and information as well as lots of local groups around the UK.