As a former single parent, and a continuing primary custodial parent, I know first hand the challenges that single parents face. Along with the complete lack of sufficient fund and time, there is the exhaustion and mental breakdown one faces when taking on this daunting task alone.
Parenting under the best of conditions is difficult. With two parents in the home, things are slightly easier, as one parent can bond with the children while the other takes care of needed tasks. When you are going it alone, however, there is a need to simply keep going, despite the overwhelming odds that you are facing.
I remember those days all too well, as they were not that long ago. I would wake every morning at 5:30 so that I could be showered, dressed and ready before I even woke my boys up. I would then wake them, and direct them as they got ready for school. I would drop them off, get to work, and spend my day doing my best to earn more money so maybe this weekend I could finally take them to the movies.
I don't know what I would have done without my mother's help and an understanding boss. I was able to leave work to go and pick them up from school, drop them at my mother's and then go back to work for another four hours. When I was released from my duties, I would rush to pick them up, as I had missed them all day. Then, we would go home, and I would start dinner as they started their homework.
I made a point in those days to turn the television off and sit around the dinner table with my children. They needed this time and they needed to know that their mother was going to be available to them, with undivided attention at some point every day. We would talk, and laugh, and I got a chance to get to know my children in a way many parents do not experience, either due to time constraints or due to allowing the family to view television during mealtimes.
After supper, I would bathe them, dress them and read to them before bed. Then, it was time to clean the house. I would get a load of laundry in, fill the dishwasher and pick up. This was a tiring time for me. I was constantly exhausted and the demands of family life and work often clashed, but I would not trade those days for the world.
What I would trade is their father's complete and utter nonchalance when it came to our children. Any activity he did not approve of, and they are many, he would not assist with funds. I often have made due with little or no child support, to the point where I
do not need it anymore as I have learned to make due without it. He has never assisted in picking the children up from school, taking them to practices or helping with homework or school projects.
This is another challenge the single parent faces. Inevitably, in the demise of a marriage, one parent comes out the more responsible while the other parent continues to nurse bitter feelings and bad blood at the expense of the children involved. Often, it is the father, but it is all too often the mother as well. This makes it extremely difficult to encourage the children to continue a relationship with this parent, as they are often not available and pursuing their own lives that do not include their children.
It breaks my heart to see my children hurt at the hands of their father. Each week, they anticipate the good time they are going to have during their visit, and each week, they are pushed aside in favor of the new wife and new children. This creates resentment on behalf of the children, and I felt it my duty to combat it as much as possible by offering comfort and consolation. Unfortunately, the older they get, the more they see and are able to understand until they lose all respect for this person.
Single parents have the hardest job in the world. They have to be father and mother to the children while still maintaining a household and some semblance of normality and balance. I would not trade those years for the world though. My children and I developed a relationship that I am quiet sad they will never know with their father. However, thanks to my husband, I am not able to be home with my children and enjoy and revel in their company all the more now.
As a wise man man once said, "It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it."