Would you choose to make your life that little bit harder?
If you had a choice, would you throw away work/life balance for work/domestic pressures?
Would you choose to take on compounding stress, frustration, anguish and guilt?
Did you choose to become a single parent?
I can hear a resounding “No way! Absolutely not! Never. No thanks.”
This is the life that many people find themselves in – they may be your parent, sibling, friend or neighbour. They look just like you and I. You may be passing them and have no comprehension of what they are experiencing and encountering.
Single parenting - It’s financially and emotionally more burdensome being the primary carer to children. Sacrifice becomes a way of life rather than a matter of choice.
Single parents didn’t choose to be in the position they are in. No one plans for a relationship to end. No one plans for their life to be more challenging by becoming the mother and the father all in one.
Becoming a single parent can feel humiliating and embarrassing, perhaps like you’ve failed. Many single parents feel as though they have to prove themselves to society and friends that they can do it and they can manage on their own. It’s hard to ask for help, to lean on other people and learn to trust again.
My heart goes out to the people who have become single multiple times, especially when there are children involved. One heart-break is hard enough to overcome. Subsequent heart-breaks can be devastating. Even though onlooks think “you’ve done it before, you will be alright,” it doesn’t make the process any easier, faster or better. They need just as much love and understanding as any other person.
Single parents kill cockroaches and catch spiders. They are counsellors, chefs, personal assistants, taxi drivers, teachers, gardeners, cleaners, laundry maids, paid employees, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, domestic gods, expert negotiators … they are always doing the best that they can while wearing their many hats!
They conquer the work/family/life balance with a greater lean towards work and family duties and know that they will see the wonders of their efforts in 10-, 20- or 30-years’ time when their children are amazing adults.
Single parents are brave, courageous, resilient, driven, focused, motivated. The journey that they travel transforms them into a more amazing being than anyone could have ever imagined. They find a spirituality that is enviable. They are humble and no matter what challenges life throws at them, they manage to get back onto their feet, pull up their socks and find a way through the rough patch. The learn the lessons of life, they see the opportunities and avoid any ‘red flags’. Always considering the needs of others before contemplating what they need, they are selfless and net-givers.
Single parenting is equally so incredibly rewarding. Paid in endless love, adoration, little notes, drawings and home-made crafts when they are little, the cherubs one day grow into independent, resilient, considerate and thoughtful young adults who, with hindsight, appreciate every sacrifice that was made on their behalf.
Is this you? If so, you are awesome, single parent – keep going, keep doing what you are doing, fight the good fight and know in your heart that the sacrifices you make are worthwhile. You are giving your child a life and opportunity that is priceless.
To those who are friends of a single parent, be kind, be supportive, patient and understanding. It can be hard and it may feel like the process will never end. But one day it will, your friendship will be stronger than ever and your single friend will remember that you were there for the tough times as well as the fun times.
When you cross paths with a stranger who may have been absent minded, inconsiderate or cranky, it’s very possible that it wasn’t directed to you. You don’t know what is happening at home with this person. The best that you can do if flick them a genuine smile of compassion.
Compassion to our neighbours, strangers, loved ones and friends helps to make your community a more empathetic and tolerant. Perhaps then the single parents will not feel so alone, misunderstood and isolated.
Keep going single parent – you can do it! You are important and you are ‘the world’ to your little ones.