by SARA MULCAHY
How do you cope? As a single parent, this must be about the most common question I get from well meaning acquaintances. Married friends (including my mother!) often admire how I manage. After all, they reason, it’s tough enough when you have someone to share the load so, really, they just don’t know how I do it.
At my GP’s surgery the other day, I fielded the familiar set of questions before considering my response. ‘Being a single parent is actually quite… ‘HARD’ he interjected, nodding in agreement with himself. Well actually, I said, I was about to say ‘fabulous’. He looked non-plussed.
But it’s true! Because the fact is, I’m not ‘coping’; I’m living my life and I’m enjoying every last minute of it.
Yes, being a single, working parent can be hard, of course it can. It’s certainly not like being young and carefree and only having yourself – and perhaps a small pet -to worry about. But any parent will tell you that. For the people who tend to assume you’re harried and hurried, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
My little boy has just turned two. (His father, my ex husband, and I split when he was just 6 months old and the two of them catch up once a week.) We have a lovely life. Routine is our friend – supper, bath, bed at 7pm – but we can be spontaneous, too.
We feed the ducks at sunrise, we climb into bed mid-afternoon to read books, we go on 4-day breaks to the sunshine in winter. Sometimes when we are out at, ooh, say the zoo for example, I look at couples who are clearly exasperated with each other, silently seething and wondering why they have to be there, and feel really happy in the little bubble of just us two.
Yes, there are definite advantages of being a single parent. You get to make the decisions, you don’t have to compromise your beliefs and you don’t miss a moment. If you’re in a loving, supportive relationship then that’s wonderful for all of you, but if you’re not, well, at least this way you don’t have to contend with the anguish of trying to include someone who constantly disappoints.
So please, don’t assume single mums are getting by against the odds. Yes I have to do everything… but then so do a lot of mothers. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sara Mulcahy is a writer, editor and mother to a croc-obsessed toddler. She’s also the mumpreneur behind babyonholiday, a website that offers tips, blogs and products for the discerning traveller under two.
Are you a single parent? How do you cope? (Just kidding).