close
SM-Stamp-Join-1
  • Selfish Mother is the most brilliant blogging platform. Join here for free & you can post a blog within minutes. We don't edit or approve your words before they go live - it's up to you. And, with our cool new 'squares' design - you can share your blog to Instagram, too. What are you waiting for? Come join in! We can't wait to read what YOU have to say...

  • Your basic information

  • Your account information

View as: GRID LIST

11 things that single parents will understand.

1

This was supposed to be a list of 10 things but I couldn’t narrow it down so I’ve renamed it 11!

I’m still not sure I like the terms “single mum” or “single parent”, but as far as society is concerned, that’s what I am. So I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned about myself, parenting, and life in general in the last 22 months that I didn’t know or understand before that.

I’m fully aware that some of these may not be relevant to ALL single parents, and I’ve also been careful not to say “only single parents” in

SelfishMother.com
2
the title because some things aren’t necessarily exclusive to single parents. We’ve all got to where we are on different paths. This is simply my interpretation as a parent who has split up from her children’s Dad and they still have regular contact with him. But here is what I’ve learned since that fateful day in 2016:

1. The look on your child’s face when you tell them their Mummy and Daddy are splitting up.

In our case, it was sitting our nearly 5 year old son in between us on the sofa, while his 2 year old brother played at our feet,

SelfishMother.com
3
and explaining that Daddy wasn’t going to be living with us anymore. He seemed to take it OK, just a blank face and said “OK…..I need a wee now” so he went with his Dad up to the bathroom. Except halfway up the stairs he crumbled and burst into tears. 16th April 2016….a date and moment I’ll never forget.

2. The Guilt

All parents have guilt; the worry that they could have done something better or prevented their child from getting hurt. But when a relationship breaks down and children are involved, the guilt you feel over not being able

SelfishMother.com
4
to give them the family you hoped for is immense. You feel like you’ve ruined their childhood. And you take on that guilt, no question. Because the last thing you want is for your child to feel they’re in any way to blame for the split, and you’ll do everything you can to make sure they know it’s not their fault.

3. The fear of doing it alone

As a couple you’re a team, raising your children together. If you don’t know what to do in a situation, you have someone to discuss it with (and occasionally argue with but lets stick to the better

SelfishMother.com
5
aspects). You make decisions together, take responsibility together. As a single parent, this isn’t always possible, and it can leave you unbelievably scared of making important decisions by yourself in case you get it all wrong.

4. There’s no one to share the moments with…..

I remember feeling both relief and guilt when my eldest son’s first tooth fell out on my watch. Relief that I didn’t miss such a big and exciting moment for him, but also guilt and sadness for their Dad because he missed it. OK so I know plenty of teeth are lost away

SelfishMother.com
6
from parents; the number of kids I see coming out of school with a tooth in an envelope proves that. But this happened at bedtime and, were we still together, his Dad would have most likely been there to celebrate with him and see the excitement. A photo on WhatsApp just isn’t the same, especially when he doesn’t see it for hours after.

5. ….but you also miss more moments

Following on from no. 4 is the moments you miss because you’re not always with your children. Up until the end of last year I didn’t miss a huge amount as my ex was only

SelfishMother.com
7
having the boys overnight once a fortnight, and 10-5 one day on the other weekend. I worked out his share of time with them was less than 10%. However, he now has them 4 nights a fortnight, including a full weekend, and I’m already missing out on a lot more. I’ve missed my youngest’s first train journey and visit to the Natural History Museum, as well as both boys’ first visit to the Science Museum. My eldest also lost another tooth that day, but I didn’t find out until he came home two days later. I know I could miss a hell of a lot more than
SelfishMother.com
8
what I do, and I’m very grateful for that. But every big moment I miss is still very hard to deal with, especially when I still try to include my ex in these moments by sending photos but he doesn’t offer the same back.

Don’t even get me started on Christmas…..

6. How lonely it can be….

I’m lucky that I enjoy my own company, so many evenings after the boys are asleep I’m perfectly happy curling up with a glass of wine (or a mug of herbal tea if I’m feeling particularly virtuous) and a book or the latest episode of Grey’s

SelfishMother.com
9
Anatomy. I have friends over when I can and now have more opportunities to go out (but still, that armchair and book are so nice). But it still gets lonely. There’s no one to talk to about how your day has been, or to share funny stories about the kids or to laugh with. So yes, I like being alone, but I don’t like feeling lonely.

7. ….but also how empowering it can be.

I remember when my ex was still here there were so many things I felt like I couldn’t do alone. Even putting one child to bed by myself was a scary prospect that could send

SelfishMother.com
10
me into a mild panic attack. Had someone told me two years ago that, in only a few months, I’d be taking both boys on holiday BY MYSELF, I’d have simultaneously laughed at the crazy idea and cried in fear of it. But I did it. Fine, it was less than an hour’s drive away, so no need to battle airports or any other public transport. But we survived a week in Butlin’s just the three of us, and enjoyed it so much we’ve been back a few times since. Yay me! Honestly, the sense of pride I felt knowing that I’d given them that experience, those new
SelfishMother.com
11
memories, was amazing. And hardly a day goes by where they don’t mention the place. That sudden realisation that you CAN do it (or you already ARE doing it) is so empowering.

8. How strong you can be

As a parent, some days, or even moments, can break you. When you’re going it alone, who do you fall back on when you’re approaching breaking point? Sometimes it literally takes every ounce of strength to get through the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for a second saying that single parents are somehow stronger than anyone else. For me,

SelfishMother.com
12
it’s just the fact that I’ve realised how strong I can be. I remember years ago talking to other mum friends when our husbands were away on business and we’d be like “I don’t know how single mums do it”. Well now I know the answer. We do it because we have to. We have no other choice.

9. The new partners

This was something I had to deal with pretty much straight away as my ex was already seeing his girlfriend when we split. I guess everyone will experience this differently depending on the nature of the break-up and how soon the new

SelfishMother.com
13
partner arrives on the scene, but the general fact remains: at some point, you’ll have to deal with a new partner.

For us, my ex having a girlfriend straight away caused a fair few issues. Issues around the boys sharing their Dad with another person but not knowing it. Having to keep her a secret from them until they were more settled with the split, and not knowing how they’d take to her when they finally met her. Meeting her in the pub, just the two of us, was a particularly interesting experience. It’s put a strain on the split itself as I

SelfishMother.com
14
have no doubt we could have been a lot more amicable without a third person involved.

I have so much respect for those blended families who all seem to get on so well with each other and their new partners, and see themselves as a four-strong parenting team. Maybe one day we’ll be like that, who knows. But for now, for us (and through no choice of my own), it’s very much a case of Mummy vs Daddy and girlfriend, and I just have to suck it up and deal with it.

10. The importance of self-care

We all need to look after ourselves and self-care is

SelfishMother.com
15
getting a lot more attention these days. Somehow we’ve got into a mindset that looking after ourselves is somehow selfish and we should always be looking after others first. But how can we look after others when we’re burnt out and broken? I’ve had to learn to follow the example of oxygen masks on an aeroplane; put yours on first and then you’ll be able to help others. Self-care can be so many things, but for me it’s making sure I have time for reading and writing most days, even if it’s just 10 minutes. I make sure I don’t fill all my
SelfishMother.com
16
child-free time with housework and errands and try to make sure I always fit a bath in or watch a film. I honestly couldn’t function if I didn’t take the time to look after myself too.

11. The power of friends and family

I honestly couldn’t have got through the last two years without my friends and family, some who I’ve known for years and some who I’ve only really got to know since the split. Those who will turn up at your house with wine and chocolate when you need it the most. Those who don’t mind you sending a short essay via

SelfishMother.com
17
WhatsApp about the latest issue you’ve encountered with your ex or worry you have about your child (and, if you’re friends with me, you’re going to get essays….you may have noticed I like writing). Those who are genuinely happy to babysit so that you can LEAVE THE HOUSE. Those that text you just to see how you are and tell you what an amazing job you’re doing.

So to my wonderful friends and family – I love you.

xx

SelfishMother.com
Avatar

By

This blog was originally posted on SelfishMother.com - why not sign up & share what's on your mind, too?

Why not write for Selfish Mother, too? You can sign up for free and post immediately.


We regularly share posts on @SelfishMother Instagram and Facebook :)

- 19 Feb 18

This was supposed to be a list of 10 things but I couldn’t narrow it down so I’ve renamed it 11!

I’m still not sure I like the terms “single mum” or “single parent”, but as far as society is concerned, that’s what I am. So I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned about myself, parenting, and life in general in the last 22 months that I didn’t know or understand before that.

I’m fully aware that some of these may not be relevant to ALL single parents, and I’ve also been careful not to say “only single parents” in the title because some things aren’t necessarily exclusive to single parents. We’ve all got to where we are on different paths. This is simply my interpretation as a parent who has split up from her children’s Dad and they still have regular contact with him. But here is what I’ve learned since that fateful day in 2016:

1. The look on your child’s face when you tell them their Mummy and Daddy are splitting up.

In our case, it was sitting our nearly 5 year old son in between us on the sofa, while his 2 year old brother played at our feet, and explaining that Daddy wasn’t going to be living with us anymore. He seemed to take it OK, just a blank face and said “OK…..I need a wee now” so he went with his Dad up to the bathroom. Except halfway up the stairs he crumbled and burst into tears. 16th April 2016….a date and moment I’ll never forget.

2. The Guilt

All parents have guilt; the worry that they could have done something better or prevented their child from getting hurt. But when a relationship breaks down and children are involved, the guilt you feel over not being able to give them the family you hoped for is immense. You feel like you’ve ruined their childhood. And you take on that guilt, no question. Because the last thing you want is for your child to feel they’re in any way to blame for the split, and you’ll do everything you can to make sure they know it’s not their fault.

3. The fear of doing it alone

As a couple you’re a team, raising your children together. If you don’t know what to do in a situation, you have someone to discuss it with (and occasionally argue with but lets stick to the better aspects). You make decisions together, take responsibility together. As a single parent, this isn’t always possible, and it can leave you unbelievably scared of making important decisions by yourself in case you get it all wrong.

4. There’s no one to share the moments with…..

I remember feeling both relief and guilt when my eldest son’s first tooth fell out on my watch. Relief that I didn’t miss such a big and exciting moment for him, but also guilt and sadness for their Dad because he missed it. OK so I know plenty of teeth are lost away from parents; the number of kids I see coming out of school with a tooth in an envelope proves that. But this happened at bedtime and, were we still together, his Dad would have most likely been there to celebrate with him and see the excitement. A photo on WhatsApp just isn’t the same, especially when he doesn’t see it for hours after.

5. ….but you also miss more moments

Following on from no. 4 is the moments you miss because you’re not always with your children. Up until the end of last year I didn’t miss a huge amount as my ex was only having the boys overnight once a fortnight, and 10-5 one day on the other weekend. I worked out his share of time with them was less than 10%. However, he now has them 4 nights a fortnight, including a full weekend, and I’m already missing out on a lot more. I’ve missed my youngest’s first train journey and visit to the Natural History Museum, as well as both boys’ first visit to the Science Museum. My eldest also lost another tooth that day, but I didn’t find out until he came home two days later. I know I could miss a hell of a lot more than what I do, and I’m very grateful for that. But every big moment I miss is still very hard to deal with, especially when I still try to include my ex in these moments by sending photos but he doesn’t offer the same back.

Don’t even get me started on Christmas…..

6. How lonely it can be….

I’m lucky that I enjoy my own company, so many evenings after the boys are asleep I’m perfectly happy curling up with a glass of wine (or a mug of herbal tea if I’m feeling particularly virtuous) and a book or the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I have friends over when I can and now have more opportunities to go out (but still, that armchair and book are so nice). But it still gets lonely. There’s no one to talk to about how your day has been, or to share funny stories about the kids or to laugh with. So yes, I like being alone, but I don’t like feeling lonely.

7. ….but also how empowering it can be.

I remember when my ex was still here there were so many things I felt like I couldn’t do alone. Even putting one child to bed by myself was a scary prospect that could send me into a mild panic attack. Had someone told me two years ago that, in only a few months, I’d be taking both boys on holiday BY MYSELF, I’d have simultaneously laughed at the crazy idea and cried in fear of it. But I did it. Fine, it was less than an hour’s drive away, so no need to battle airports or any other public transport. But we survived a week in Butlin’s just the three of us, and enjoyed it so much we’ve been back a few times since. Yay me! Honestly, the sense of pride I felt knowing that I’d given them that experience, those new memories, was amazing. And hardly a day goes by where they don’t mention the place. That sudden realisation that you CAN do it (or you already ARE doing it) is so empowering.

8. How strong you can be

As a parent, some days, or even moments, can break you. When you’re going it alone, who do you fall back on when you’re approaching breaking point? Sometimes it literally takes every ounce of strength to get through the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for a second saying that single parents are somehow stronger than anyone else. For me, it’s just the fact that I’ve realised how strong I can be. I remember years ago talking to other mum friends when our husbands were away on business and we’d be like “I don’t know how single mums do it”. Well now I know the answer. We do it because we have to. We have no other choice.

9. The new partners

This was something I had to deal with pretty much straight away as my ex was already seeing his girlfriend when we split. I guess everyone will experience this differently depending on the nature of the break-up and how soon the new partner arrives on the scene, but the general fact remains: at some point, you’ll have to deal with a new partner.

For us, my ex having a girlfriend straight away caused a fair few issues. Issues around the boys sharing their Dad with another person but not knowing it. Having to keep her a secret from them until they were more settled with the split, and not knowing how they’d take to her when they finally met her. Meeting her in the pub, just the two of us, was a particularly interesting experience. It’s put a strain on the split itself as I have no doubt we could have been a lot more amicable without a third person involved.

I have so much respect for those blended families who all seem to get on so well with each other and their new partners, and see themselves as a four-strong parenting team. Maybe one day we’ll be like that, who knows. But for now, for us (and through no choice of my own), it’s very much a case of Mummy vs Daddy and girlfriend, and I just have to suck it up and deal with it.

10. The importance of self-care

We all need to look after ourselves and self-care is getting a lot more attention these days. Somehow we’ve got into a mindset that looking after ourselves is somehow selfish and we should always be looking after others first. But how can we look after others when we’re burnt out and broken? I’ve had to learn to follow the example of oxygen masks on an aeroplane; put yours on first and then you’ll be able to help others. Self-care can be so many things, but for me it’s making sure I have time for reading and writing most days, even if it’s just 10 minutes. I make sure I don’t fill all my child-free time with housework and errands and try to make sure I always fit a bath in or watch a film. I honestly couldn’t function if I didn’t take the time to look after myself too.

11. The power of friends and family

I honestly couldn’t have got through the last two years without my friends and family, some who I’ve known for years and some who I’ve only really got to know since the split. Those who will turn up at your house with wine and chocolate when you need it the most. Those who don’t mind you sending a short essay via WhatsApp about the latest issue you’ve encountered with your ex or worry you have about your child (and, if you’re friends with me, you’re going to get essays….you may have noticed I like writing). Those who are genuinely happy to babysit so that you can LEAVE THE HOUSE. Those that text you just to see how you are and tell you what an amazing job you’re doing.

So to my wonderful friends and family – I love you.

xx

Did you enjoy this post? If so please support the writer: like, share and comment!


Why not join the SM CLUB, too? You can share posts & events immediately. It's free!

Post Tags


Keep up to date with Selfish Mother — Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media