Can I do it alone?
I have a son. He’ll be four in a few weeks – a sweet, smart, active little boy with a big heart. However, his father and I split up over a year ago, largely because I wanted more kids. While we had agreed upon it previously, he later decided that one was enough. He loves our son, of that I have no doubt, but he refused to have another child.
I’d had enough.
The breakup was nasty but I agreed to shared custody. Leaving was the hardest thing I have ever done – not leaving him, but sleeping under a different roof than my son. However, our custody arrangement is such that I see my son pretty much every day, and most nights. At least it’s bearable.
My son keeps asking me to bring home a baby for him (which is just so darn cute), but I wish it were that simple. I want another child. My biological clock is ticking louder every day. In a few months I turn 40. Somehow that number has always seemed the age I should be finished having kids.
For the past nine months (irony, anyone?), I’ve been actively searching for Mr. Right. Someone intelligent, attractive, single, honest, interesting, gentle, kind and creative, who likes kids and wants to settle down – and who hasn’t had a vasectomy. There isn’t anyone like that in my regular life so I’ve tried four different internet dating sites. So far I’ve met 18 local men and, well, short version: no luck.
So I have a choice.
I can take the risk and wait, or I can cut out the middleman (pun intended) and just do it myself with the help of a local fertility clinic.
I can afford the procedures and they’ve accepted me as a client. I’m lucky to have a job that will pay me almost my full salary for a full year of maternity leave, and a great health plan that covers most costs. I make enough money to be able to support another child. What more do I need, right? Case closed! Decision made! Sign me up and show me the stirrups!
Then the doubts set in.
If I get pregnant this fall, my son would be five by the time the baby was born. Is it fair to him? Will I have the energy to do all the things he needs me to do for him? Will I be able to get him to school on time – help him with his homework? Will he resent sharing his bedroom? Will he resent sharing me? Will his father think that he can steal our son away from me because I have another child? I wouldn’t put it past him.
Is it fair to deprive a child from knowing his father? Will the baby wonder? Will this baby resent that my firstborn son gets to spend time with his father but he or she can’t?
I remember those first months (and first years) of having a baby. It’s exhausting. Not enough sleep, constantly on call, never a moment of privacy – and that’s what it was like when the father was there to help out.
What happens if I’m on my own? No one is going to make me a sandwich. No one is going to vacuum for me or unload the dishwasher. No one will change a diaper once in a while to give me a break. No will bounce a teething infant for an hour or two in the middle of the night so I can sleep. No one will pick up groceries from time to time.
I will have no one to rely on but myself.
I don’t have family around, and all of my friends are leaving town one by one – it’s their careers, I always knew they’d be going sometime. Could I hire a doula for the first few months? A nanny? How much would that cost? Can I afford it? How do I find one? Would she expect to live here in my tiny house? Where would I put her?
What would it really mean to have a child on my own? Can I do it alone? The only single moms I know had a hell of a time, and they had friends and family around to help. What if I have twins? How the hell would I handle that on my own? My mother was a twin.
Am I strong enough to handle it?
It’s the right thing to do.
Right? Tell me I’m right.
People who know me refer to me as a single parent.
I don’t really like that distinction because while I AM single and I AM a parent, the stigma attached to “single parent” is not a good one.
My Gigi is 5. She and I left her dad almost exactly five years ago when she was seven months old. He was mean and emotionally abusive. He seems to have changed a bit – or at least he loves his little girl more than he ever loved me.
He is involved. He sees her one evening a week, every other weekend and every other week he gets another shorter evening. It tears my heart out every single time she goes. Sometimes she cries and sometimes she runs away. Sometimes I tell her if she does either of those things she won’t be able to play with her friends in the neighborhood the next day because those things “hurt her daddy’s feelings.”
I’m sick of him and his feelings. My little girl wants to stay HOME. My house. Not his.
The other day a friend was talking about public schools in our area. She mentioned a school that is not particularly good and said, “well you know, all those poor kids have single moms and their test scores are horrendous.” Now, are there test scores horrendous because they have a single mom? Or what? The demographics of the school are not desirable due to the number of one parent homes.
Hmmmm…I’m a one-parent home. Does that mean my child will not be as smart? Or not do well on tests? Or will be a behavior issue or somehow not succeed because she lives in a single parent home? I choose not to believe that. You see, my daughter is MUCH better off with living in a single parent home. Her Mama may be messy and scatterbrained but she does not cry every day anymore or do things like look at her little girl and make the promise every single day that no one will ever hurt her.
I am a single parent. I did not choose this path, but I live this path. Would I like to have someone around to help pay the bills, cook the meals, clean up the kitchen and do a load of laundry? Yes. But I also would want to be in love with this person. And have that person love me back.
Another friend on Facebook had a status that said, “K is happy she doesn’t have to be a single parent anymore. Hubby will be home in three hours.”
You are not a single parent. You have a husband. Who works and makes money. He may be traveling for work or away from home but you are not a single parent. You don’t understand how much coordination it takes to figure out when and who will go to school conferences. Or what your child will be for Halloween or give her the choice of just having two Halloween costumes. You do not have to put a screaming, fighting, kicking child to bed when she has been up too late so she can have quality time with daddy. You don’t have to worry about your little girl looking at you and saying, “Mama, I love you the best. So much more than my daddy.”
I choose to not let the stigma of being a “single parent” define me. I try to wear the badge proudly and let my daughter know that we can do it ourselves. We are strong…Mama and Gigi against the world. I am raising her to be a strong woman who knows that her Mama can fix the sink or mount the shower head without the help of a man.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m not a man hater. I would love for Prince Charming to come in and sweep me off my feet. But at this point it would be a distraction from my most important job. My daughter. I can’t imagine having to share her with anyone else. I miss her when she’s gone. We have been apart so much I should be used to it. But sometimes I still cry because I miss her when she is gone for a weekend.
I am a single parent and I’m not ashamed.
Mental Illnesses are prevalent in our world. They greatly affect not only the individual involved, but the people around them. In the month of April, we focus our spotlight on Mental Health, in order to heal together and break down stigmas.
We want your stories. How has your own, or someone else’s mental illness affected your life? How are you rising above stigmas?
Please share your stories with us during the month of April.
Today, well …really yesterday, I can’t sleep …my coworker stopped me to ask what was the matter. I suppose that it’s been pretty obvious for a long, long time that I haven’t been too happy.
So I laid it out for him.
“I don’t know how long I can keep doing this.” said I.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, just dragging myself through each day. You don’t understand if you haven’t felt it. There is literally nothing worse. It’s like thought-cancer. Every last good thing that you have done counts for nothing. Nothing is good. You don’t hope for anything because nothing works out, in the end. That’s the way it is when you’re a loser.”
“Hey, I think you’re pretty great. You’re a great employee. Nobody worries if you’re in charge of a project. They know it’ll be done. I can’t claim any understanding of what you’re feeling, but I do understand loneliness and doing the single dad thing. It’s really hard, but you’ll get through it.” he said. “Have you thought about getting any help?”
“Yeah, I’ve done therapy. I have to dredge up all these shit memories, some of which I had all but forgotten. It’s not easy or fun. The drive gets me too. When you’re feeling this way, two hours of driving becomes a HUGE obstacle.”
“Well, do you mind if I help find you someone to see? I wear lots of hats and it really isn’t any trouble. We care about you, and it really tears me up personally to see you this way. I mean man, when you’re up, you’re up and going, smiling and happy, whistling tunes and singing.”
“Well, those times are becoming fewer and further between. Thank you. Yes you can look.”
We had our Christmas party tonight and it really was all I could do to get out the door. My kids and me. The only single person there. It wasn’t easy. The kids got some small presents, and we feasted on prime rib roast and ham, salad, and green beans with garlic and bacon, funeral potatoes, and cheesecake for dessert. I ended up smoking at least a dozen cigarettes in between playing cars and dollies with all the kids. I really do love playing with kids. They’re so much cooler than adults. Plus, they don’t mind when you’re a bit of a nerd. They think it’s funny. They’re not all caught up in being an “adult.”
Anyway, it was a fun night. At least as fun as being a depressed mess can be.
It struck me that my coworker noticed something that has only been slowly dawning on me the past few months. I may very well suffer from some kind of Bipolar Disorder. I noticed in this last year that I have periods of not exactly mania, but something akin to it, that precede my depressions. And indeed, thinking back, there were times that I was the one dragging a reluctant wife around to friends’ houses, staying up too late and drinking too much, laughing too loudly, smoking way too many cigarettes. Looking back, it’s like watching a slow sine wave …up and down, and up and down. But the peaks are flattening out, while the valleys are falling lower and lower, like some macabre emotional EKG readout, about to flatline.
In any case, this December is my crossroads. I really think that it’s my last chance, and that I WILL be a fool if I don’t follow through and take whatever help my company can give. Once again, I am struck at how selfless these people can be. I have often thought that my job was the single best thing that I have going for me, aside from the children. I am blessed that they care. I explained to my coworker that even getting out of bed is a HUGE accomplishment for me some days. What I didn’t mention was that most of the days that I don’t show up to work, I’m laying in bed wondering why I’m even breathing. Last month, I spent two working days and nearly all weekend in bed, leaving only to buy cigarettes. Another thing I didn’t say was that I am completely sure that I could CONQUER THE KNOWN UNIVERSE if I could get better. Another serving of hyperbole anyone?
But its true. I have managed this much in my fight against depression. I have a tiny nucleus of potential, waiting like the silence before the Big Bang, hidden away from the shadows. Indeed, somehow I have managed to keep this strange little grain alive through it all, shedding its light silently like the crystals from Final Fantasy. Maybe that’s what they call my god-spark, my soul or whatever. My true self. It’s a dim light, and a cold one, but at least I’ve managed that much.
I have been very reluctant to try medication. I must admit that I self medicate with marijuana. But….cannabis IS NOT A PANACEA! I have argued this point with people more than once. You can be depressed, get stoned, and yep, be stoned AND depressed. It does make things bearable in that I am freed for a while from the cyclical thoughts of self loathing. But it’s not a treatment. An old hippy once told me that pot should be the spice on an otherwise good life and that kids now wanted to feel stoned to improve their lives and end up being slaves to pot. It’s true. I’ve known people who will go without food in the cupboard in order to get weed. Food is the very first thing I buy, after paying my bills …after all, what will one eat when one has the munchies? Which, since I have a really bad habit of eating little to nothing for days at a time when depressed, is another benefit. It’s sad that so many who advocate for marijuana don’t just say that it’s like a glass of wine for people, and the governments should get over it. They push like it’s some kind of miracle thing, but its just a damned plant with psychoactive substances. Yes it has been shown to have medical uses, but I really don’t think that depression should be one of them.
I have been reluctant to try medication since my stint on a previous bipolar medication. Sure, I didn’t feel depressed any more. But it was a hollow sort of feeling, and I didn’t like it. I couldn’t get happy or sad. It was weird. Maybe it was working like some kind of chemical lobotomy. I’m becoming more and more convinced that there is something wrong in my brain chemistry. I don’t know if things went wrong because of the sexual abuse I suffered, or because of a genetic thing, or both, but I think that some kind of medicine is what I need. I will have to give up pot, to be sure, but I am not espoused to Mary Jane, and I don’t think that I’ll miss her to much.
I also have to get over my anxiety that the medicines will make me feel more suicidal. I began self-harming in 2014. I hit myself hard in the face and head. I already have a kind of cavalier view of pain. Physical pain is easy to bear, for me at least. This means that I could be one of those who just snap because of their medications and finish themselves off impulsively. I don’t want to die, no matter my suicidal thoughts. Not really. But it’s frightening when you can suddenly become your own worst enemy. No one has ever hit me as hard as I have hit myself. But the scariest part of it is that, for a while, I feel better. Yes. I hurt myself and feel better. Fucking A.
So December is my crossroads, and I hope I take a better path. Dare I hope that I’m going to get better? Tentatively, perhaps.
I’m a 16 year old girl and I had to grow up fast. I never really got to enjoy my childhood, at times I don’t mind because I like feeling as though I’m capable to do things on my own, but sometimes I feel as thought I should’ve been able to live a normal teenage life. My father was in the picture but he was never mentally or emotionally there for me.
My mom had to take the role of both mother and father, but that made me feel like I had to be more responsible, like I had the responsibility of being a parent which I didn’t like. I started working once I turned 15 and I’ve worked ever since.
As soon as I got my first job my mom stopped helping me with anything and always asked me for money. I felt like I was the parent and she was the daughter. It really gets hard sometimes cause I feel as though she’s never played the role of being a mom. She kept a roof over my head and food in my stomach, but emotionally she was never there. I never got an “I love you” unless she did something really horrible towards me and felt guilty. I’ve never heard how was your day, how are your grades, how was school, would you like to talk about anything…none of these normal questions parents ask their kids. And it really hurts, I have just always wished I had an actual mom I could look up to.
My throat is sore from shouting. I am exhausted. I hate my life.
I never wanted children. My ex did, and as he always gets his way, we had a son and then a daughter. I love my children, but I don’t love being a parent.
I feel robbed of a life and my freedom. My ex loves getting high more than me or our children so I left him. I don’t regret this but I am annoyed as he can now do whatever he wants while I’m stuck here on my own.
I’m constantly dealing with their mess, stopping fights, and thinking of ways I can leave. I’m sick of not being able to do anything or have anything nice because they always destroy it.
I want to enjoy them, I just don’t know how.
I’m told this is my job and I should just accept that it’s not going to be the way I want, but it’s destroying me. I feel guilty for feeling this way, but I’ve been nothing but a full time mum for seven years, and I don’t think I can do much more. I’m selfish. A horrible mother.
Life after divorce is never easy. Yes, to you it might turn out as a pleasant change for a while, due to the release you got from all of your pain and misery, but it would be a difficult change for your children to deal with. The protection the children felt from having both parents at home is no longer there.
Once the couple has been separated, the children find themselves clueless and directionless in the whole wide world. The guardian parent has to understand this situation and act accordingly to save the lives of children from getting ruined. If you are a single parent who recently got divorced and is now in between of a parent juggling act, here are 3 tips on how to make the transition a little easier for your children:
1. How to Get Respect from Your Children.
A parent stopping his/her child from doing something and the kid yelling back or screaming isn’t a very rare situation in lives of single parents. If your child has told you several times that he hates you and you are the worst father or mother in the world, trust me, you aren’t the only one experiencing this. Now, most parents lose their mind in such situations and either begin heated arguments or start shouting or hitting the children.
There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that you deserve utmost respect from your children. However, you will have to earn that respect, not by being bossy but by being reasonable, mature and friendly. You must be friendly with your children so that they can open up to you. When a child feels free to be open with a parent, if they want something, they will want to express their reasons why they want it. In turn, you will be able to make a more informed decision. No matter what your answer is, by building up a better relation with the child, you will avoid him/her feeling disrespected or being neglected.
2. Spend Uninterrupted Time with Your Kids
The last thing your kids want is you ignoring them. When a couple separates, the children have to live with either parent. They can never be with both parents at the same time. Depending on the agreement between the parents, children may spend particular times of the year with father or mother but in very rare cases they can be with both the father and mother. Keeping this factor in mind, you have to give your children adequate amount of attention. You should try spending uninterrupted time with the kids so that they don’t feel the fact that either of their parent is missing in their life.
3. Try To Maintain A Mature Relationship With Your Ex
Just because you have separated from your partner doesn’t mean that you cannot see your ex again. Being a parent, it should be your highest priority to do anything and everything to make your children’s lives and future better. You shouldn’t tell your children that their other parent was the one at fault or wasn’t worth being a parent. You should instead let your kids decide what kind of relationship they want to keep with your ex. Your children would most likely resent you for separating them from the father or mother, if you tell them to stay away or be at a distance.
It is important that you maintain a mature relationship with your ex so that you both can meet up occasionally in order to make sure your children’s lives aren’t falling apart. There are occasions when you and your former spouse have to meet up to celebrate the happy moments of your children or to provide support in their sad ones. It is not rare for divorced people to gather up on the birthdays of their children. You should do it too if it helps your children’s healthy growth, physically and mentally.
Handling life and children after divorce is certainly difficult. However, if you follow the above mentioned instructions and take wise decisions throughout the years, you can stop your children from fighting with you day in and day out, and feel incomplete without both the parents.