Sometimes You Just Have To Say It Out Loud
For the most part, I love being a mum, even a single mum (Have a look here to see why I love being a Single Mum)
But I’ve had a tough few weeks with Aiden. The toughest it’s been in a while.
Why? I’m not sure. Possibly because he’s right smack bang in the middle of the terrible twos (i.e. the terrible 1 ½ – god knows when this hell will end!) Or maybe, it’s because I feel extra tired at the moment so the little things that wouldn’t normally get to me are hitting me like a ton of bricks.
Whatever the reason, I’m struggling.
I’ve found myself moaning in my head about life, being a single parent, how did I end up here, when is it gonna end and I’ll feel happy and love mummying again, how am I gonna get through it….. So as always these days, I started writing it down.
Before I knew it, I’d come up with 10 reasons why it’s hard to be a single mum.
Now sometimes i feel like all us mums seem to do is moan about how hard it is. And we can get moaned at for this.
“How ungrateful are you”? “You chose to have kids”.
But we moan about it sometimes because it is hard. Yes, for most mums becoming a parent is the best thing that will ever happen to them. But that doesn’t make it any less difficult. And it’s OK to talk about it. It’s OK to admit its hard. It’s OK to moan! Admitting these things doesn’t make you an ungrateful mum. It makes you human. You have to get it out and when you do, it’s amazing how many mums ‘get’ exactly what you’re talking about.
If posting things like this help at least one mum to relate and feel a little bit less alone, then that’s worth a rant!
So here are m 10 reasons why it’s hard to be a single mum. See if you can relate.
ONE: No Emotional Support or Back Up.
Before I start, I want to point out that I am by no means ‘on my own’. I have an amazing mum who I see or speak to on the phone almost every day. I have a handful of supportive friends who I can rant to and who bring me chocolate when they know I’m really needing it. But on the day-to-day parenting and raising Aiden, I’m pretty much going it alone.. Which means there’s no daily emotional support. Especially at the end of a long and stressful day. No Daddy coming home from work to take over for the last few hours. To bath him and deal with the bed time battle. No help with discipline. No second opinion. No back-up when Aiden’s been acting up for 12 hours straight. No cuddle at the end of a gruelling day. No one to say “it’s OK, I’m here’.
TWO: I’m The Only Single Parent I Know
I used to have a few friends who I met occasionally for a coffee and a chance to moan about how hard it is doing this alone. It was great to be able to have someone who fully understands. My ‘married mum friends’ are great, but they themselves say ‘at least I have (husbands name) coming home every night / at weekends / holidays / days off”.
Having single friends who got what it’s like 24/7, non-stop helped. It gave me comfort, reassurance. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone in how I felt. But they are now happily in relationships and I haven’t seen or heard from them in almost a year. No reason other than life has got in the way I guess. So now, it’s just me.
THREE: There’s No-One At Home To Leave Him With
This means having to take Aiden with me EVERYWHERE. A quick trip to the shop, a full-on supermarket run (I now do online shopping!), a visit to a friend, a trip to the doctor. Wherever I need to go, Aiden comes too. For example. I need to pop to Tesco:
Change nappy – hunt for socks and shoes that were dumped when we got in the last time – get socks and shoes on – get jacket – put socks and shoes Aiden has just taken off back on again – go to put jacket on then fight over which jacket to wear because Aiden doesn’t want to wear that one – a fresh poo in the just changed nappy – change nappy again – a fight to get in the car because he wants to drive – finally get to Tesco – a tantrum in there because he’s not getting the paw patrol toy he just spotted on the end of the aisle – a 5 minute roll around the floor kicking and screaming because ‘mummy I don’t care how many paw paw toys I have, I don’t have this one and I need it” – another 5 minutes of dropping to his knees because he doesn’t want to walk coupled with holding his body rigid and so that I can’t carry him – another fight to get into the car because he hasn’t quite made enough of a scene so far – arrive back home – a quick bolt in the opposite direction of our house when I lift him out of his car seat – manage to get a hold of him and carry him kicking and screaming (again!) into the house which must look like I’m kidnapping him.
But finally….. 50 minutes later….. we’re home and YEY! I got the pint of milk I was needing!
FOUR: No Break
When there is no 2nd parent around, even co-parent to take them at weekends, it means Monday – Sunday 24 hours a day there is no break.
Sure, Aiden sleeps 11-12 hours a night but there’s no guarantee that on any given night he won’t wake up at least once needing comfort, a drink, a nappy change, sheets changed because he’s been sick….
I have my mum and I can’t tell you how much that helps but the few hours she takes him pass so quickly, there’s no real time to get anything done or for a mummy reboot.
No break also includes no peeing in peace, no shower in peace, no eating my lunch in peace.
And it really does take its toll. I’m on 2 years and 5 months of having maybe 15 overnight breaks when granny has had him and maybe 1 or 2 afternoons each month. And the afternoons we go to visit family and friends I find myself just sitting in a daze. Feeling some relief to just be able to sit for an hour and have someone else play jigsaws or play with cars or deal with his temper tantrum because his juice is in the wrong cup.
It’s not enough to recharge and the constant non-stop of it all, the relentless day after day of getting more and more exhausted physically and mentally take its toll. It really takes its toll.
FIVE: Being Ill
This is a big one for me because I have a lot of health problems. But let’s keep it in general terms and say for e.g. I have the flu or a virus.
I still have to muster enough energy to get up and see to Aiden for the day. I still have to take him to nursery and back. I still have to change his nappy, get his clothes on, cook his meals, entertain him. Plus, see to what needs done around the house that can’t wait. If I’m sitting with my head down the toilet puking Aiden is usually standing next to me watching.
As much as I’d love to crawl back into bed and sleep it off. I can’t. You literally count down the hours and minutes to bed time. You cry. You end up letting him do things you normally wouldn’t just to get 5 minutes of peace. You feed him chocolate because you know he’ll happily eat it which keeps him occupied for a while and it saves the normal mealtime stand-off.
I’ve just came out of a 5-month period of this and I cannot thank my mum and friends for stepping up and literally sharing the role of mum. Had they not….. I honestly don’t know what I would have done.
SIX: No Social Life
When you’re a single parent, there isn’t a partner her to take turns staying in with the kids while the other goes out and lets their hair down. Don’t get me wrong, my mum is happy to babysit overnight every now and again. But she has her own life. I can’t ask her all the time. I find I have to try to pick a few nights, things i really want to go to and then miss out on the rest.
And you can guarantee the one night I invite friends round for drinks is the one night Aiden will decide to wake up 20 times. You’re still on switched on mummy mode and you struggle to enjoy some ‘friends’ time.
As for dating, I have written a blog post about dating here but in all honestly all I can think about at the minute is I’m so bloody exhausted, by 7 o’clock all I want is to get Aiden to bed so I can fall into mine. How am I going to find the time or the energy to date?
You want to make plans to see people, I mean you really do, but you’re so exhausted that you end up finding excuses to cancel. You become isolated, unsociable and that’s not a good place to find yourself in
SEVEN: Weekends and Social Events Are Hard
My married friends all spend time with their partners and families at weekends so we don’t tend to meet up for play dates then.
Everywhere is busy at weekends because the schools are off (not great when you’re suffering anxiety in crowded places).
It’s also quite hard to go to birthday parties, weddings, christenings, Christmas parties…. Anywhere that has a family invite and all the other mummies, daddies and kids are there together. Daddy’s there to lift the kids around the soft play, kick the ball, run around after them while the mummy sits back and chats with the other mummies about their kids, their families, their lives.
Then there’s little old me going solo with Aiden. The sad lonely mum. I can’t sit and talk to the other mums because I have to constantly run around after Aiden, take him round the soft play, kick the ball with him, get up and down after him time after time when he runs off.
I feel like they all look at me with pity and complete confusion as to why i would possibly ‘choose’ to be a single mum. As if it’s just such a shocking concept to them, to actually be a single parent. Too many times I’ve been to one of these things and I’ve ended up taking Aiden into a toilet cubicle and I’ve broke down in tears. So, I’ve started avoiding them all together.
As for weekends, we’ve gotten into a habit of going out to the park or some place early in the morning before it gets busy or avoid going somewhere all together and staying in the house. Which brings on major cabin fever making Aiden tantrums and mummy stress worse.
EIGHT: Everything Is Down To You
All the decisions big or small land on your shoulders – from the clothes he wears, what nursery he will go to, what food he eats, who he has in his life, his daily routine. Which means……
All the parenting is your responsibility. You are responsible for all the dilemmas you face in parenting – when to potty train / how to potty train, how to discipline, what morals he will learn, how to handle tantrums, fussy eating, sleepless nights and building a sleep routine, dummy or no dummy, smacking or no smacking and later down the line the questions about the birds and the bees, sex, relationships….. That’s all on you. And if you fuck it up….. it’s still all on you.
NINE: The Worry Is All On You Too
Going along with the 2 mentioned above. All of these things bring worry – is he eating the right foods? Has he got the clothes he needs? Is he at nursery too soon? What if he picks up my bad habits? Will he turn out to be a good person? Is he missing out because he’s being raised by a mum on her own? Is he going to be OK? Is he safe? What if that time i completely lost my shit and shouted while having a meltdown scars him for life!?
And I worry about what will happen once Aiden starts to realise other families have a mummy and a daddy. Will he wonder why he doesn’t have that? Will he resent me? Blame me even?
You bear a lot of weight and worry on your shoulders and it can feel like the weight of the world sometimes.
TEN: When Life Gets Hard You Just Gotta Suck It Up
Life happens. Things happen. Things get hard. You get ill. There are money worries. You have arguments with people. There’s heartbreak. There are good days but there are really really crappy days. Sometimes you just want to go and shut yourself in the bedroom but without having anyone there you can’t. You just have to get on with it. And that is the hardest part of being a single mum.
Now I promise you, as much as I’ve written being a single parent as all doom and gloom here, I promise there are plenty of reasons why I love being a mum and I’ll post that blog very soon!
But for now, given that we’re going through a tough phase, and it’s just a phase (I don’t know how many times I repeat that to myself a day) it felt apt to publish this post now.
Please leave a comment in the box below to let me know why you find it hard to be a mum sometimes and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
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