Single parenting, a brief meditation
It’s quarter till eight in the morning and the alarm starts ringing, your 2 1/2-year-old is already jumping on your chest and your 10-year-old is just waking up, he wants breakfast before school. You’ve got a diaper to change, close to pick out for both boys, and you haven’t even walked downstairs to make that first cup of coffee… Yep it’s Monday and you already wish it was Friday afternoon.
It’s easy to say that the natural order would be one parent takes care of one thing while the other parent takes care of the other thing. Whether that’s being the working parent out of the home or the working parent in the home. Equally difficult jobs, equally important, and equally come with their own set of difficulties and stressors.
On one hand you have the parent’s schedule which could be any variety of the shifts that are out there and how are you to coordinate childcare among all of those shifts, that is if there is childcare available for an 11 to 7 which often times there is not. Now let’s look at the other side of that equation- The stay at home parent is responsible for a wide variety of things that are every bit as important and every bit as tricky as the working parent. Housekeeping, dish washing, cleaning the kitchen, making dinner, and so on… These are all for the most part thankless jobs. The only payment you receive for performing these tasks is the occasional thanks… Which goes along way! I guess the point that I’m trying to make is if you look at the optics of both of these very different scenarios what you see is a very, very busy parent. Single parenting is of course not the natural order, because when one parent’s battery is dwindling they should be able to tag their partner to take over. Obviously this is not the case in a single-parent home, you just have to go until you can’t go anymore, and then go a little bit further.
Supports: whether we are talking about a small/close group of family and friends or daycares, schools, or even child support. Having a very close support system can alleviate a lot of the chaos that is single parenting. It’s not always possible to have a contingency plan when an emergency arises or an unforeseen event. So then what do you do? All of these answers will vary depending on the situation, but what you will find more often than not as that the single-parent has an ability to improvise that is often sharpened by the length of their circumstances. Most of these single parents are juggling impossible situations at any given time, and this has a tendency to make their emotional and mental faculties become weary and stretched very thin. So how do we help? Reaching out to single parents is, in my opinion, a very crucial component to the work that we do as a parent educators. We offer resources, play groups, group connections, and even parent cafés. All of these are put together in an effort to bridge the gap between the single parent and at least one other person that can become a support.
It’s amazing what can happen when you walk into a room where everybody in that room can empathize with your station because we have all experienced it on some level or another. It’s amazing that empathy can turn hopelessness into self fulfillment in as long as it takes for you to say that you are a single parent and can use a hand or some advice, the rest is the miracle of kindness… (::)