Coping with Single Parenthood

30 Jul

I consider myself a single parent, despite being legally married (in a church and all) for several practical reasons.  First, my son and I live in a separate home from his dad; second, I no longer concern myself with whatever (whoever?)  my (ex?) husband chooses to do in his spare time; and three, when push comes to shove, I am the one who must adjust and accommodate to make sure that Inigo gets taken care of. 

This boy is so worth all the sleepless nights spent working

I frequently go on mommy forums like the babycenter and smartparenting to keep myself informed on good parenting techniques that can benefit Inigo.  After all, I learned from first-hand experience how inadequate parenting can significantly affect a person’s development.  At the very least, failing to receive good nurturing can stand in the way of achieving full potential.  At the very worst, it can deprive an individual of the chance to become a productive and happy adult.

To be fair though, my single parenthood has been remarkably blessed.  I know from a lot of mommy forums that other single moms do have it tough, and much, much worse than I do.  At least I have no history of being physically abused in the marriage and he and his family remain ready to take some of the burden from me.  Still, parenting is ideally done in pairs, and it can get lonely staying up nights, watching over a fever and waiting for it to break.

Over all, though, being a parent (albeit a single one) has been the most fulfilling experience of my life, definitely something that makes me glad to forgo eight hours’ of sleep every night.  With Inigo being very young, I have only been a (single) parent for a short time, but here are some of the things I have learned as I cope with single parenthood:

  1.  It gets remarkably easier with family.  Our family has never been one to be demonstrative when it comes to showing affection, but the feelings are there all the same.  Having Inigo grow up in a house full of loving relatives who dote upon him at every turn has made him confident and engaging.  Though the care of Inigo largely falls upon me (with no nanny!), familial support has prevented me from single parent blues.  From what I have heard from other single moms, feeling like you have no one to help you is the worst part of not having a partner.
  2. Being a single parent does not make you selfish, nor does it detract from your child’s potential.  Staying in a relationship requires a stronger reason than doing it for the kids.  From my own childhood, I can swear that sometimes, it is better for parents to just go their separate ways rather than expose their kids to negativity.  And as Inigo’s performance in Gymboree classes consistently prove, he does exceedingly well living with just one parent.
  3. False: if one parent is good, then two must be better.  Nothing could be further than the truth.  In fact, I would bet any parent out there to prove that my son lacks stimulation, nurturing, encouragement, or grooming, for that matter.  In fact, there are kids out there with both parents living together who can only aspire to get the same amount of care and attention that Inigo is getting.

I do have to admit though, that there are worse days.  For example, last week, Inigo got into my make-up tray and smeared my favourite liquid eyeliner all over his face and slathered my moisturizer on his pillow.  Times like that, I just wish I could hand him off to his father.  Instead, I have to throttle my irritation so that I can speak to him calmly and institute a time-out without sounding punitive.

But there are also good days, and it is for these that I live for.  Last week was my birthday, and I woke up to Inigo hugging my neck tightly and saying “hi” in a sweet voice.  He kept repeating it until I opened my eyes and said hi back.  Then he kissed me, made his Bumbleebee robot kiss me too.  With a son like that, what else do I need?

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