Single parents, I respect you

I don’t think people say it enough. I think there’s still a stigma around being a single parent, and that’s why I wanted to do this blog post, to tell you that for me, you guys are absolutely bossing it.

My god, do I respect you.
You see, I was primarily brought up in a single parent family, but it was incredibly dysfunctional and damaging and had a lot to do with my diagnosis of pre and postnatal depression with my own pregnancy. You’d think that would make me stereotypically biased against single parents and that I think all families end up that way. But no, I don’t tar everyone with the same brush, and maybe mine was so terrible because of how hard it was? Who knows. What I do know is that the majority of the time, single parents are heroes.

Aimee’s blog post on the new baby bubble rang true for me, yet I couldn’t help but think what I would have done if I hadn’t had the support of my partner in those crucial first two weeks. Jamie even said to me in hindsight he shouldn’t have taken the second week of paternity leave, but even with that second week I wasn’t ready to be a parent on my own. I had a vaginal birth and needed stitches but it was otherwise uncomplicated, imagine if that had been a C-section… how would I have coped? The answer is, I wouldn’t have.

For a bit of context, Jamie used to do shift work, which meant for 7, 5 and 4 days at a time he would be away, and I wouldn’t see him until the end of that shift pattern. It also meant that the days in between he was there constantly to help, but the days without him put a huge strain on me and with PND skulking over me like an angry raincloud it was terrifying being alone with a baby some days. He no longer works there, and at the moment his job means he’s home fairly often, but next year he could be away for 6 whole months.
6 months alone. Just a nearly 2 year old for company. Will it be easy? Will me and my daughter have an unbreakable bond because I was the only parent around for 6 months when she was a toddler? Will she resent her dad? All of these questions are spinning around in my head and I know I have nothing to worry about. Some mothers and fathers have to cope every day like this, not just 6 months. What am I complaining about? But it scares me. I’m in awe of how people must manage every day like this and go on to raise loving, clever and wonderful children. You don’t need two parents to bring an amazing boy or girl up to be an equally amazing man or woman, but it makes it a hell of a lot easier having that other person around to help.
I don’t think people say it enough. I think there’s still a stigma around being a single parent, and that’s why I wanted to do this blog post, to tell you that for me, you guys are absolutely bossing it.
So do me a favour… tonight, get the kids to bed, pour yourself a large glass of wine or crack open a can of lager, kick back, put your feet up and know that you are incredible. Even if you feel like you’re failing, we all have those moments, and you are most definitely not.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Becoming a single mum, the baby steps I’m taking

Why I’m happy being a single mum

Learn to love yourself

Mum Muddling Through

The New Baby Bubble

I remember coming home from the hospital and seeing my family’s faces light up when they finally got to meet their granddaughter and niece. I remember thinking that nothing could ever ruin this perfect little moment.

The ‘New Baby Bubble’ is amazing… You feel like you’ve been blessed with such a supportive family, a content baby and the perfect daddy to your bundle of joy. I remember coming home from the hospital and seeing my family’s faces light up when they finally got to meet their granddaughter and niece. I remember thinking that nothing could ever ruin this perfect little moment. Then my daughter did, and I’m not lying to you, she did the biggest poo I’ve ever experienced. But it was okay, because Daddy was there. Grabbing a nappy, a new change of clothes and telling me to sit down and take it easy. It was fantastic. I lived at my parent’s house at the time, so even they would take over and help with ‘Wiggles’.

Life in this bubble was perfect and I never wanted to leave it.

I would spend hours just staring at my perfect, content, sleeping daughter just thinking about how this wasn’t bad at all. What were other parents going on about? But that changed so bloody quickly!
Because I’d had a C-section, everyone was very wary of me doing anything. If I got up for anything, I would have everyone screaming at me to sit down and that they’ll get it. Now, for those of you who have never had a child… this gets very annoying very quickly. I was allowed to do two things without getting into trouble. Breastfeed and pee. Which is basically all my daughter would let me do anyway!

Towards the end of week two, the ‘bubble’ was starting to go. The excitement of a new baby had worn off for my family and friends, Daddy was due to go back to work in a couple of days and I had only just realised that I had no idea what the hell I was doing. And then it happened. The ‘bubble’ burst and left me with a very different situation. Daddy was back at work, I was allowed to do things again and everything was down to me.

Shit.

As new mothers, this is where the stress kicks in. We find ourselves frantically searching through MumsNet at 1am to check every little thing. But why are we so afraid of leaving the ‘bubble’ and entering the real world of motherhood?

Midwives and health visitors tell you everything you need to know about being pregnant, how to breastfeed etc. You’ve probably researched what to expect when you’re expecting, watched multiple episodes of One Born Every Minute. Heck, you probably had an app that told you which vegetable your baby was the same size as each week (thankyou BabyCentre). But what you didn’t find out was what happens next. After the excitement has died down, when your midwife signs you off and you’re expected to just know what to do.

And the truth is, nobody knows what they’re doing. They are simply winging it. No two babies are the same, so although other mums may have ‘advice’ on how to calm your baby or how to get them to latch properly, at the end of the day it’s all about doing what works for you. Creating your own routine so that you can create a new ‘bubble’ for you and your little family to live happily every after in… until the next obstacle at least.