I don’t know if you know or not, but my husband is away a lot. I try not to shout about it too much….yeah right. I’m always banging on about being a bloody ‘tour widow’ and left alone with two small children and a job and blah blah blah. I’m not one for keeping my whingeing to myself. A misery shared on social media is a misery made bearable in my book. Right or wrong, oftentimes Instagram saves my sanity.So, I parent solo a lot of the time which, I hasten to add, isn’t the same as single parenting. Solo parenting is hard but it’s temporary. It’s a different vibe and I’m lucky to have someone on the end of the phone after the kids are down, I’m lucky to know that eventually my husband will come back to rescue me and my sanity. That makes it easier for sure – I get that – and to those men and women doing the single-parent thing I salute you. Lord knows how you do it.
The thing about parenting on your own is that it’s the little things that wear you down. The big things – moving house, chickenpox – are like tiny nuclear bombs but people rally around your for that shit and for that I’m always grateful. It’s the constant tantrums, the refusal of every meal, the night terrors, the coughs, the teething…that’s what brings you to your knees. No one calls you to help you out with tantrums, or teething which brings me to the next thing.
People who are solo parenting (or single parenting I would imagine) get pretty self-conscious of the amount of times they have to ask for help. If you really want to help someone who’s on their own, don’t say, “Do you want me to come and help?” What we really want to hear is, “Look, you’re having a hard time. I’ll be there tomorrow and give you a few hours to have a rest, a bath, put a pair of clean knickers on…no arguments.” If you can do that for someone on their own, if you can help them avoid having to ask you to give up your time and energy again, they’ll be so grateful they’ll cry. Real tears.
Also, Deliveroo or Uber Eats need to target this market. It’s great that they bring food, booze, desserts but what we really need is all the shit we forget about until we’ve put the kids to bed. For me it’s normally milk, formula and nappies. That’s kind of a big deal because you need to throw all those things at the Smalls the minute they wake up. They don’t even resemble humans until they’ve had breakfast, bottles and a bum wipe. Unfortunately, when you’re on your own you can’t just nip down to the shops so that it’s all there in the morning. Instead, when they wake you up at bumfuck o’clock you’ve got to get dressed, get them bundled up, get them in the car or the buggy and drive to the damn store with their wet nappies, dirty bums and hungry tummies. By the time you get back, almost everyone is going to be in tears and you haven’t even had a cup of fucking tea. It’s dark, dark days.
And let me tell you, the novelty of being able to watch exactly what you want on the TV all evening, every evening wears off fairly quickly. I’ve done 5 seasons of The Walking Dead, two seasons of The Real Housewife of Beverley Hills and about 15 movies. You know what I really want? An adult conversation; one without the kids sticking things up their noses, falling over their own feet, screaming blue murder because I won’t let them watch Moana for the 137th time that day. It gets pretty lonely sitting there all night, every night on your own so if you want to help a solo/single parent, offer to come round at night and watch their crappy TV with them. They won’t want to talk much – they’ll need to just chill the fuck out – but it’ll be nice to have someone with them, even nicer if you make them a cup of tea or pour them a glass of wine.
There’s no down time. There’s no relief. There’s no one to make a cup of tea. There’s no lie in. There’s no taking it in turns to soothe the baby at night. There’s no time for a bath. There’s three meals a day to make and clean up. There’s no one to put the laundry away if you fold it. There’s no one else to pop to the shops. There’s no second pair of hands. There’s no sex. There’s no adult conversation. There’s a lot of dinners for one…it’s no fun cooking for one. The day is halved – the things that your other half normally does are now your things to do. It’s literally fitting the work of two people into one day. It’s relentless. It’s never ending.
This isn’t a post designed to make you all feel sorry for me. It’s designed to make you all think about those people that you know and love that have kids and are on their own. Perhaps, after reading this, you can think of a way to relieve the pressure because they don’t need it when the big shit happens, they need it to help them shake off the small stuff.