Being a single parent is tough. Isn’t that what they always say? You read about it in the newspapers and in magazine articles, see it enacted in TV soaps and hear interviews on the radio discussing it. It always seems to be accompanied by a weary sigh and a sense of hopeless resignation.
To be really honest with you, in practical terms, I can’t actually say that it’s tougher than when I was married. My ex-husband did none of the domestic chores or kid related stuff anyway. So on some levels, life is actually easier. After all, there is less laundry and fewer people to feed.
That said, I do have days when things really get me down. And the last 24 hours has been one of them.
Over the last week, the three of us have all had a terrible stomach bug. A really aggressive bug, which left me (somewhat embarrassingly) crashing into the wall of a friend’s house, whilst struggling to make it to her sofa to lie down. It was only 8pm, but I was worried that they would think I was already drunk!
My friend subsequently dragged me home and put me to bed and had to come back the following morning to walk the dogs for me, as I just couldn’t get up.
This was followed by a couple more days of feeling like death warmed up, whilst simultaneously trying to get my eldest to study for his school exams. Not an easy feat, when you’re doing it by yourself.
But finally, I was on the mend, and the kids went back to school.
Then yesterday, my little one came home from school with his exam results. He is still very young and it’s a huge pressure for these children to be doing them. As he announced his results, I could tell that he was disappointed with the Maths result. He got a really good mark, but he was upset that he had done less well than in his previous exams. That said, his English had improved significantly and overall, he did really well.
Unfortunately, however, this wasn’t enough for his father.
Having not seen their Dad for over a week, the little one was clearly looking forward to his mid-week visit. He wanted to tell his Dad his exam results. And that’s when it all started going wrong.
That evening, I had three calls from the kids. Firstly, the eldest was really upset because his Dad had been really foul and grumpy with him. Then I had another call from his, just because he was feeling upset and needed to talk to his Mum. Then I had the little one on the phone, hiding in the bathroom, to say that his Dad had told him that his results were only "acceptable" and that “he should have been getting higher marks” and that “it wasn't really good enough”.
He was so upset - and I was too. I just wanted to drive over and collect them.... but of course, you can't can you?
I was at a friend’s house for supper when the phone rang, which was fortunate, because I was so upset, I needed supportive friends around me.
The situation made me feel helpless and impotent. Unable to protect my two children from someone I shouldn’t have to protect them from anyway. And whilst trying to keep a practical head on my shoulders, I realized that I had to keep it to myself. It’s important that the kids can phone me when they feel upset. Alerting the ‘ex’ to their call would seriously backfire if he took away their phone.
So, sometimes it’s really very tough being a single mother. And today is definitely one of those days. Even my friend and Guru @AHLondon was stumped as to how to deal with the situation. And really, seriously, she knows most things!
But I am a glass half full person and I will plough on… I may be a single mother, and it may be tough, but I will never be a stereo type!