Some days I feel like I am a single parent.
It’s on those days when my husband has to work late for the third or fourth evening in a row and I’m on bath and bed duty once again, after a full day of looking after my little boy. A full day of nappy changes, car journeys, food prep, cleaning up, washing up, laundry, hoovering, dealing with tantrums, playing Lego on the floor, getting him down for a nap, practicing his walking, carrying him around like the Maharajah to stop him crying, bringing him to activities, racing to the supermarket, getting the dog out for a walk, emptying the ashes, lighting the fire, making the dinner, cleaning the surfaces for the 10 millionth time that day and trying to fit in some work between it all.
It’s those days when my exhausted husband doesn’t come in until well after the baby has gone to sleep and all we’re fit for, is to sit on the couch for an hour and eat a late dinner together and flop into bed like exhausted zombies, hoping tomorrow we won’t just be ships passing in the night.
It’s on those crazy, hectic days when I might not get to talk to another proper grown up all day.
It feels like it’s just me, doing everything by myself.
It’s on those days when I feel like a single parent.
But here’s the thing.
I am not a single parent.
And saying that I am, is an insult to those who are.
So why do I say it? Why do I grumble it to myself on those days when I’m frazzled and alone?
Because, as tough as it can be, to be a stay at home mum, who works at home, with a husband who can work long hours with a hefty commute, I cannot imagine how hard it is to be a single parent.
Yes I have long days and nights when my husband is working late, but they often come in bursts and soon enough things calm down and hey presto he comes home at a reasonable hour and we might even all three of us get to eat together before he does bed and bath with the baby. And even on those days when I am alone for 90% of it, I know he’ll be home at some point.
Yes he’ll be exhausted and yes we won’t get a lot of time together, but he’s there. Beside me as we eat, as we chat and try to make each other laugh or smile, or keep our eyes open for half an episode of something on Netflix. He’s there when we flop into bed and all weekend long, when he does all the tough stuff and lets me have a lie in. He's there to help make decisions about our son and his future, he listens to my worries, my ideas, my hopes, my dreams. He's my best friend, my lover, my cheerleader, my sounding board, my rock. He drives me crazy and makes me belly laugh in equal measure. He makes me smile everyday, even if I am feeling like an exhausted wreck of the Hesperus. He is a constant presence in my life whether he’s at work or not.
He is the very essence of my partner.
A single parent doesn’t have that backup. And even if you are separated from your partner through work commitments for periods of time, you still have a partner. I'm not saying it's a breeze to be parenting by yourself a lot of the time, because it's not. However, a single parent doesn't have that support, that constant presence of a partner with them throughout the day, even if it is only by text or skype sometimes. Yes of course, single parents have family members, parents, siblings and close friends they can call on to help, but it’s not the same as a partner.
It just isn’t.
So I’m saying sorry, I’m sorry to all the single parents out there. I’m sorry for sometimes saying I feel like a single parent when clearly I’m not one. It's not something we should bandy about when we have a tough day. Because, while I know if I was in that position I would have no choice but to just get on with it, I still do not know how you do it.
I’m in awe.
Your inner strength, your determination, your love and dedication are something I admire beyond measure and on my tough days if I had just a drop of what you have in reserve, I'd be doing well.