Single Parents Day 2021
Yesterday was Single Parents Day 2021, and the theme this year is Single Parent Strength.
It’s definitely been a year that’s tested our resilience, but also increased it.
I’ve been a single parent since my nearly 9-year-old was just four weeks old so it’s really all I know.
The picture below includes the image of my son as a baby I sent to his dad the day he left.
It was to beg him to not make the choices he did for the sake of his son.
It was a scary time to be alone with a baby as a first time mum.
His father left to take heroin and we then had a year of him coming in and out of our lives until he accessed rehab.
That year was traumatic to say the least and it definitely gave me a form of PTSD. He would visit claiming to be on track, but then steal money.
I had texts at night telling me to lock my front door as his dealer was coming to kill me and the baby.
There’s more examples of the pain I could list, combined with grieving the loss of my relationship and adjusting to motherhood.
Being a first time parent is hard enough without those extra things, so it’s no surprise my mental health took a hit.
This was the first time I forced myself to use medication, as I needed to function for my baby.
For years I’ve felt my mental health (which hasn’t improved a lot sadly) is what has made me weak as a person and parent.
But this isn’t true.
Single Parent Strength
Being able to parent requires strength. Doing it alone is even more strength. Doing it alone with mental health battles requires even further strength.
I’m stronger than I think and I’m not as much of a failure as I tell myself daily that I am.
I love the theme being resilience and strength, because it’s enabled me to reflect on what strengths single parenting has given me.
2020 will never compare to the feeling I had when my son had heart surgery at the age of two.
The feeling of him going limp in my arms when they put him to sleep was horrific.
Knowing they were taking far longer in the operating theatre than they said it would take was the scariest moment ever.
I had my mum there, but still felt hugely alone and scared as I was the only one responsible for him.
His father came back into his life a year later, when he had been clean a good while.
But to this day he chooses not to do the harder parts of parenting.
Maintenance is hit and miss and he doesn’t attend parents evenings and school events despite me asking him to.
He never takes time off during school holidays so childcare and a career for me is tough.
Being the main boundary maker is hard and being the ‘boring, moany parent’ isn’t a great feeling.
Having the pressure of making all decisions isn’t easy and parenting alone is isolating, lonely & anxiety-provoking.
But he’s my world and whilst it can be a hard role, it’s also so rewarding.
I like to think our bond is strong, and we’ve faced so much together that we can face anything.
Single Parent Resilience
For my son, I hope he’s learnt great resilience, mental health awareness, empathy and strength from our life so far.
Being a single parent motivates me to challenge my mental health, rather than allow it to consume me as it previously did.
I can’t just sit and cry for months, avoiding the world. He needs me to function, so I have to face it.
Whilst these last few years have been hard mentally, they’ve been needed.
Having my beautiful boy has opened up a lot of trauma within me that I hid rather than dealt with. So I’m now trying to deal with it.
I hate that it affects my parenting, but I hope that by facing it now, I have more of a positive future with him that I wouldn’t otherwise.
Nothing will stop me from fighting to banish the negative stigma of single parenting. We are stronger, brighter and more capable than the media and society assume.
Yes I may have a partner now, but he lives 136 miles away. He is not my son’s parent, so I still make all the decisions and parent daily alone. So in my heart I will always be a single parent to this amazing boy.
To all you single parents out there, please know you are heard, you are seen and you are AMAZING.
Please share this with any single parents you know who may need reminding how great they really are.