This blog is dedicated to a superhuman group of people out there. Single parents. Anyone who is bringing up children on their own – honestly – there are no words to describe how phenomenal you are.
Whilst I was growing up, I knew first hand how challenging it was for my mum. She was incredibly young when she had me, so as I grew up, so did she. My father died when I was 11, my sister was even younger, and my brother was a tiny baby who hadn’t even started eating solid foods yet. Sometimes, when I feel that I’ve had a challenging day, I close my eyes and think about what my mum went through – and to this day, I don’t know how she did it. How did she bring up 3 children all on her own? How did she work full time, keep a house, make sure we were fed, clothed, clean and educated? How did she do that?
We didn’t always make her life easy either. We would challenge her. Disagree with her. Not be helpful. I see that now. And I marvel. How did she do it?
The truth is, how does any single parent do it? Sometimes, my husband has to travel with his job and it’s up to me to hold the fort whilst he is away. Normally, we are a team. But when he’s away – first of all the girls miss him incredibly – the absent parent is the hero and the one who is there all the time, is the dogsbody – so there is that to contend with. That’s actually bearable because you can remember feeling that way yourself when you were little. The most challenging part is when all the jobs have to be completed by you. All of them. There is no let up. And of course, you are dealing with children, so one simple job can multiply into a thousand more jobs within a blink of an eye – and you’re tired. More tired than you can ever imagine – tired. Normally, I can stay awake until quite late and it’s fine. When he’s away, I find myself wanting to go to bed at the same time as my daughters and lamenting about all the jobs that need to be done before I can rest my head.
But I can’t complain. Although my girls can have their moments and they are the messiest children I have ever seen – they’re good girls. I won’t complain. And of course I have the support of my extended family, which I value and cherish more than you can ever know. I can’t complain.
But what about those people who are alone, with no support? No extended family? No backing of any sort? How do they cope?
This is why I say to you, single parents are incredible.
Although I believed at the time that I was growing up, that I knew what my mum was going through – I realise that I didn’t have a clue. Every time we spoke about how much we missed our dad – that must have felt like a thousand stab wounds in the heart. Every time we got frustrated with her because of something she had forgotten – we never thanked her for all the millions of other jobs that she had done, and other problems that she had averted with her foresight. I never appreciated how tired she was. I never understood how frightened she was – frightened of all the decisions being hers and hoping that she was doing the right things – because there no one else who could take the flack for it. I never understood how much she fought for us – to instil us with values, for us to be educated, for us to want to better ourselves, not fall in with the wrong crowd, to be mentally and physically equipped to take the world on ourselves. I never understood any of this.
It’s only when you have your own children that you realise what a huge responsibility being a parent is. And when, for whatever reason, you end up doing it on your own…the responsibility feels even bigger.
Let me tell you though – when your children are older, they will look back and see what you did and they will understand. Huge kudos to the one who stayed. The one who did the daily grind. The one who was not viewed as the special one, because they were always there, enforcing punishments, doing the homework, attending parents evening, listening to them read, taking them to clubs.
Honestly, to those of you, who are doing this parenting malarkey on your own – you are phenomenal. You truly are. You are unsung heroes who do the job of two people and it goes by unnoticed and unrecognised by all.
One day your children will thank you. One day your children will acknowledge what you did. One day they too will understand how hard you worked and the sacrifices that you made.
Here’s to all the parents who are on their own – and do the job of two people. God bless.