By JANE ALEXANDER
One of the strangest parts of being a single parent is sharing the care of your children with someone else.
When you have a child you don’t expect that you will spend so much time away from them. The constancy of parenthood is something that you had mentally prepared for and that you expected to last a long time (say, 30 years or so!).
And then, you separate so that every fortnight you have to let your children go. You say goodbye, waving and smiling as the kids go to their Dad’s place for a visit.
All of a sudden… your house is so quiet.
It took me a few months after the separation to even begin getting used to letting the kids go. I hated packing their things up the night before they left. I would even find myself pulling back emotionally in the days leading up to their going. I don’t do that anymore; instead I now make the most of their time with me, but it took a while to get used to the situation.
Saying goodbye to your children.
It is without a doubt one of the hardest parts of being a single parent.
Don’t get me wrong – sometimes I need the break, and it is good to have time to myself and especially to have couple time with my new partner.
But I still tend to avoid going into the kids’ bedrooms when they’re not with me. Their rooms feel too quiet and empty; as if a pause button has been pressed on their little lives (as well as on their noise, their mess and their chaos!).
I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to their quiet rooms – as much as I sometimes need the break to recharge, it never feels quite right to have such young children but not have them living with you all the time. Often by the Sunday of their weekend at the Ex’s place, I get a strange feeling – not loneliness and not quite an ache, but a sense of something missing and something being lost.
Occasionally as well, I get criticised for not taking the kids visiting people as much as I used to.
But when you only have your kids with you 70% of the time, you get greedy about spending that time with them and selfish about making our time together my priority.
And I think sometimes that can be hard for full time parents to appreciate, because it is so different from the constancy that they have with their kids.
I wonder sometimes about single parents who re-marry and have another baby – a child who stays with them all the time.
Would this make it easier, because you would still have one of your children with you? Or would it make it harder – would having one child with you all the time highlight the fact that the others were gone?
I’m starting to think that this is one of the parts of single parenthood that I’ll probably never get used to. It’s simply a part that needs to be accepted as how life now is.
Little Miss Mummy is a single Mum with 3 crazy kids under 8. She is ridiculously smug about living in the beautiful Byron Bay and spends her time balancing 3 kids, working as an archaeologist/heritage consultant, spending time with friends and family and frocliking on the beach. She writes frequent ramblings about her life as a single Mum in a newly blended family on her blog, which you can find here. You can also find her Facebook page here.
How do other single parents feel when they have to say goodbye to their kids? Is it as hard for everyone or does it get better with time?