Wednesday 18 March 2015

It's A Hard Knock Life For Single Parents!

Anyone who's a parent will know that it is no easy task. Wrangling kids, getting them to eat something even a little bit healthy and trying to keep curious minds and bodies safe. It's a LOT of work!

I have always had immense respect for single parents, having to take over all the duties of two people as well as trying to meet their own needs without falling apart in the process. I'm pretty sure they definitely deserve it.

Admittedly I'm not a parent, although I have been known to mother some of my friends, my pets and my family on occasion, my maternal instincts have been pretty strong even from an early age. But nothing ever compares to actually being a parent and having to juggle everything on a daily basis to make sure life works for everyone, even if that means sometimes that you lose out.

In my life I've only known about 2 or 3 single parents. The first one I met was my friend's mother at the start of high school. She'd had a tumultuous family life and found herself pregnant at 15, giving birth at 16. I applaud her for doing the best job she was capable of doing at such a young age, especially when, as is quite often the case, the father didn't want the responsibility and only stepped up to attempt his parental duties when said friend was in hospital at around 8 years old.

I had the opportunity a few years back during a sleepover to chat to her mum about what life was like for her. She told me she was going off the rails and felt like no one loved or wanted her around so if she hurt herself it didn't matter. Then she found herself pregnant and knew it was a sign that she had to get herself sorted out in order to care for her child.

As a young mum she was always terrified of what could happen to her daughter at any given moment, but she realized after a while that she couldn't hold so tightly to her child because things were going to happen and it was a learning curve for both of them. She herself is probably one of the strictest and most over protective parents I've ever met. Not to say that my friend or her younger sister haven't tried to push their luck, but they know where they stand with her and what she'll do if they cross her.

One of my best friends a few years ago was a single mother of two young children when I met her. She'd escaped an abusive arrange marriage with a 2 and possibly 5 year old child and restarted her life by moving back in with her parents which is where I met her for the first time. She and I became the best of friends almost instantly, we just meshed that well together. I was honored to be someone that she trusted implicitly and to help her move on from her troubled marriage and find some happiness in the way her life had turned out.

Many times she told me she never would have guessed in a million years how quickly her life would change. I guess that's just how life goes.

I got a real taste of single parenthood when I was with her and it made me respect not only her but single parents that much more. She had great kids, kinda crazy which we joked about a fair bit, but they were fun to be around and endlessly entertaining.

She herself wanted more from life and started studying in her spare time, however short that was. She also took up employment when she found that Centrelink was going to cut her off when her youngest turned 6, so she tried every dignified means she could to find a job that suited her skill set and allowed her to be there for her kids when it was needed.

Luckily she had another best friend with a daughter around the same age as her kids and that lived nearby so if she was unable to pick them up due to traffic or if one of her kids was sick and she had no choice but to go to work, she had someone there to care for them. I lead a different sort of lifestyle about an hour's drive from her so I did whatever I could whenever I could to help out, even if it was just calling or texting her to see how she was coping. Even the smallest things can make the biggest difference.

I think the worst part of being a single parent is that you REALLY don't get any sick days. If you're ill, you still need to get up and do everything and deal with your own stuff in the rare free moments that you have. She told me many times when she was sick how incredibly hard it is to be a single parent. I told her I could see from the amount of time I'd spent with her that it was no easy task and highly commendable to every parent that found themselves in that position.

She would occasionally beat herself up when her kids didn't have something that they needed or weren't doing as well at school as they could be and told me she was struggling and doing a terrible job. I'd ask her if her kids were happy and healthy. If they were then she was doing a great job. If they weren't, she was still doing the best job she possibly could and shouldn't let the occasional slip ups bother her so much. I always knew without a doubt that she was a wonderful mother who would do anything for her kids, I could tell by the way she interacted with them and how they treated her. Even if they were too young to understand what respect was, they felt it for their mother.

When it came to their father, she would happily drive them to his house on the weekend for their usual visit. Even if she didn't particularly care for him after everything that had happened, they'd both agreed that they would never make their kids take sides or stop them from seeing the other one. I'd say that's the best parenting decision one could ever make! He knew how he treated her was wrong and completely inexcusable and would spend the rest of his life regretting his mistakes, but the best thing he could do from then on was be the best possible father to his children.

My boss is another example of a single parent, although his ex is still quite close so the sharing of parental duties is a little bit easier in that respect. It's interesting to see parenting from a male's perspective and it doesn't seem to differ that much. He still plans his work and life around his daughter and if he gets a call saying she's not well or something has happened, he'll rush to her side and make sure she's taken care of before returning to his own work. He's also told me how hard it is to be a single parent, especially when you're running a business and your phone doesn't stop ringing.

Parenting is hard, doing it alone is so much harder. Let's give a standing ovation and endless support to the hard knock life of single parents!

No comments:

Post a Comment