According to the Collins Dictionary, a single parent is “someone who is bringing up a child on their own, because the other parent is not living with them.”
By that definition, physically I am a single parent to a teenage boy now, but quite honestly I shy away from calling myself a ‘single’ parent.
I never married and having my son was in fact the best decision I have ever made because it changed my life in so many different ways. I know it was difficult for my parents and family but they accepted my son with all their hearts – he was in fact their first grandchild.
Living in the society that I live in, being unmarried and having a baby was just again my religion and right out taboo so I can understand the internal turmoil my parents went through.
When my son was a baby, my family would always come by my house and check up on us. My sisters would always be there to babysit for a couple of hours whilst I run errands. My mom, especially, would drive for miles every single day to help me with my boy - this went on until he was 4 to 5 years old.
I also used to travel a lot for work and on these occasions, I’d leave my son with his grandparents often for 10 days a stretch and during certain times a month. As you can see, my mom and dad was very much part of the raising process. My dad often the fun, any goes one and my mom, playing the role of the disciplinarian. Whatever their roles were, they’d take him to the park, to the beach, to the movies, school pick ups etc. My dad taught him how to ride a bike and swim!
My brother would always be there if I needed any help to babysit if I was running late at work.
There were moments when my dad or my mom, would stay in my house for long periods of time if my work required me to put in long hours.
My support system just doesn’t stop there, my colleagues in my office used to keep my son occupied during times I had to bring him to the office. Some of them even picked him up from school if I had sudden meetings that I couldn’t get away from and couldn’t pick him up.
So how can I possibly take credit for single parenting when my parents and siblings were every part of it especially when he was younger. They say “it takes a village” and rightfully it does, for me at least.
I am so grateful for having the family that I do with the amount of support I am shown – I am so ever thankful. I understand that not all single parents have the support system that I do but I strongly believe that its up to the parent to build a support system whether they are friends or even neighbours, especially if family are far away or if i may say, can’t be bothered. I believe it’s the attitude that we project to the world that will bring people we need into our lives. Single parenting is how we dive into it – a positive outlook will bring the positives and a negative one will just bring more negative into our lives.
I relocated my home closer to work when my office was relocated so I could stay close in case of emergencies. Yes, at 13 years old, I left my son alone at home after school for a few hours so I could go back to work to finish my work day. It’s hard to leave a child at home, it broke my heart EVERY SINGLE TIME but it is something I had to do. Yes, I order take out half of the time – this keeps my sanity. Not having to think of what to cook everyday is a great relief!
I notice that when I do have to explain that I am a single parent, people’s reaction are often of a sad one. Their face and voice changes as if it was a sad thing, which till now I don’t understand. I’m happy, my boy is happy. Maybe our family dynamic is different from the conventional dual-parent set up but different doesn’t always mean a bad thing.
As a single parent I must admit my social life is non-existent and it does gets extremely lonely at times but for me personally, I choose to put my child first and that decision leads to me not having the space and time for anyone else in my life and quite frankly I’m okay with that.
When my boy was little I did have a 5-year relationship but it was hard for me trying to juggle between my son and my then partner and when it became too much for me, I decided it wasn’t worth it so I left the relationship. Maybe I’ll start dating again when he’s off to university – who knows! But for now I’m content.
I might not be my child’s bestfriend but we’re as close as a mother and son could be and I love that. An equal balance of love, support, playfulness, communication (to me this is extremely important), discipline and understanding.
I must admit that it’s not easy being the only parent at home. Not easy for me neither him. He doesn’t have an alternative if he needs a second opinion on something or prefers to speak to another person on a particular subject matter to get a male perspective. Yes, he can always call his grandad or his uncles but I understand that it’s not the same as having one other person other than me at home.
Nevertheless, we try to make the best of it and I try to be as open as I possibly can. I don’t try to be perfect neither do I pretend to be but I certainly try my best to always be present as a parent.
This is all coming from my own personal experience and of course different people have different challenges and experiences. Even so, having both parents in the household are not without its on challenges.
Whatever it is, for me, I am blessed to have the stellar support system that I do and I couldn’t have done it without every single one of them – THANK YOU. And to my son, I am so very proud of the person you are and am excited to meet the person that you’re growing into.