The Joy of Single Parenthood
From guest writer, Zemama:
I was chatting with a colleague last week, comparing notes about our adorable little ones, when she asked ‘do you have any friends who come over at night?’ Huh? Then she said it ‘I don’t know how you do it. I go home and have my husband to help with the baby. Don’t you have anyone come over in the evenings to help you?’ I’m getting used to it, but there is a fine line between acknowledging that single parenthood is bloody hard work and acting like raising my son, the greatest joy in my life, is some sort of tragedy.
I am not divorced. I did not have a crisis pregnancy. I am an educated professional single woman in my 40s. I carefully considered how I would parent solo, and I had my son after years and years of concerted effort. He is the result of deliberate planning and hard work, not the result of personal crisis or loss. None of it has been easy. In my first year of motherhood, I cried a lot. Some weeks, I cried every day. But I’ve never laughed so much in my life. I’ve never felt such joy or such passion for anything or anyone. I’ve never had so darn much fun.
Everything is a trade off. Many of the people who marvel at my ability to prepare a proper dinner every night (okay, most nights) find time for a couple hours of tele every night. I’d waaay rather read Everywhere Babies or I Am A Bunny than watch some tele family’s silly drama. I’ve traded a lot of unfulfilling, time wasting activities for the joy of sharing Christmas morning with a child (my child, every year), for the wonder of deciphering his first words, for the rush of love when he crawls up on my lap for a cuddle. I was on the far side of 40 when I became a mother, and that means I had decades to go clubbing and take holidays. I did, and I enjoyed that. But no way does sitting in a crowded bar having beer spilled on me compare to the joy of parenthood. (But in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say my clothes have been doused in far worse than beer since my son’s arrival.)
Yes, it is hard. But for me, being childless was much, much harder.
Even attachment parenting experts Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, RN had a totally irrelevant go at single mothers in their Baby Book, which was updated in 2005.
“Our hearts go out to mothers who by choice or by circumstance begin their parenting careers without a mate.” (My emphasis)
Really? You acknowledge an adult made a choice and still your heart goes out? The book is full of useful advice, but the good doctor can shove his heart right up another part of his anatomy.
My heart goes out to women who stay in miserable relationships thinking it’s best for their children. My heart goes out to women who cook for and clean up after both their children and their partners. In fact, older married straight mothers are the people who have been most reassuring. I’ve been surprised at how many of them bluntly told me that really, aside from finances, they were pretty much parenting solo.
The most sensible comment I’ve had came from a little neighbour boy who was very curious about my son. I explained a bit about our family of two in an age appropriate way, and he smiled and said ‘I bet he makes you real happy.’ Yep, he does.
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