Do you know what get’s my goat. And I’m talking, instant anger, flare up, nostrils splay out, lips become a thin line, brow furrows and my fingers instantly want to tap furiously onto something to get my feelings out. It’s when partnered women cry ‘single parent’.
Yes, I hear you all now, and yes this is a direct response to Amelia Mitchell from the iVillage article ‘I’m a single mum, Monday to Friday’. Here you all go, I’m pushing the soapbox forward for you all, so form an orderly line. “Stop judging her”, “maybe she does feel single”, “she has her side to the story”, “but her husband does work all the time” “She never sees him and he never sees them”.
To all of that I have one word “choice”. We all as conscious human beings have to some degree a level of choice in our lives. If you choose not to exercise it – to play slave to the money god then yes – probably you will lead a life like that and get to 40 something and wonder why you don’t remember your now suddenly teenaged progeny’s childhood. So please, don’t cry ‘single parent’ just because your partner works long hours or away. The fact is, you’re not a single parent and you would have no idea of what it is actually really truly like to be a single parent.
Firstly, when people say this, they are insinuating that being a single parent or ‘mother’ (as this article suggests) is a bad thing. Well excuse me, but don’t lump yourself into my life as if being a single parent is a chore. It is in fact a joyous experience for me. I love being a mother and I love being a single mother. There are many wonderful upsides that nobody seems to talk about. Number 1 being I don’t have to share. Which is great, because I never liked sharing as a child anyway. Secondly, I don’t have to discuss my child’s education, medical, emotional or any other kind of decisions with anyone; I can do as I please. It’s me raising her 100% and she is happy, well adjusted emotionally, physically healthy and thriving. Reading at a grade 3 level in fact. Must have been all those horrible nights I read her books all on my lonesome before she went to sleep. I hope you’re getting the sarcasm there.
The fact is this; I think these people who cry ‘single parent’ simply miss their partner. They wish they were around more, but let’s get one thing straight. Their partner is around. They’re at the end of the phone, a Skype conversation away, a text message during the day. Their partners do come home, whether it’s late or not. They do eventually go on holidays together and enjoy family time and when they do – I bet it’s precious, because they had to wait for it.
So I’m going to ask a few very simple questions to really get my point across. Have a think about the answers before you prepare to sledge me for my opinion.
1. Would you call yourself gay if you were not gay?
2. Would you call yourself a man if you were a woman?
3. Would you call yourself the Pope of Rome, even, if in fact, you were not the Pope of Rome.
Then why on earth do you insist on calling yourself a single parent when you’re not? I could go on about financial responsibility of the single parent, how we don’t have anyone else to rely on and more, how we don’t remember how date night is supposed to work and more. But really, it all comes down to this. When people complain they are a single parent, they are saying it like it is a bad thing. And for most of us single parents that is an insult, because most of us are perfectly happy. In fact, most of us are much happier than we were when we were complaining about our partner never being home.
I suggest people start seeing the glass as half full and stop complaining about how hard they have it. I find a quick visit to any children’s hospital usually puts one’s problem’s quickly into perspective. Here’s another option. Perhaps as a family choose to stop being a slave to the dollar, downsize, work less, be together more. What’s funny is that people would rather whine about how hard they have it, than see the good in what they do have.
The irony in all this is that I as a single parent probably have more in common with the absent parent in this scenario. I’m up early, drop my daughter at before school care, I work a long day and it’s after 6pm by the time I collect her and get home to do anything that resembles what a stay at home mum does. But you know what. That’s my choice. And I only do it 3 days a week because then the other 5 I can do whatever I want – which includes not being a slave to what society thinks I should or could be doing with my life.
I am single parent and I love it. Time to embrace the good in life. Don’t you think?