Friday, February 09, 2007

Single Parenthood. Blessing or Curse?

As many of you know I am a single parent. It is something that invariably defines part of who I am. When people find out that I am a single parent I hear "I don't know how you do it." I don't know if it is that I don't usually look haggard and tired or that they expect a single parent to not have a life of their own.

I don't use single parenthood as an excuse for anything other than sick days at work. If I am invited to something and it isn't a time when D is going to be at his dad's house, I decline. I try and make plans with friends on days when D isn't home. He goes to his dads every Wednesday and every other weekend.

The most difficult thing to deal with isn't trying to do it all on my own. That is something that I adjusted to quickly. It is amazing how easy things become when you don't have any other choice. I don't really think about it. I just do it because if I don't, no one else will.

For me, the most difficult thing to deal with is fear. I am so afraid that I will screw up D and he won't become the kind of man that I desperately want him to become. I want him to be an honorable man.

I am afraid that something will happen to me and that I will either die or that I won't be able to take care of him and that he will have to go live with his dad and evil step-monster.

I am afraid that I am not everything that he needs. There are times when I am so tired from working all day and doing housework that I don't really have the energy or desire to do anything with him. If D wants to play a game and I brush him off because I am tired or have other things to do I feel wracked with guilt and then horrible thoughts start to filter in. What if something happened to D and the day before I brushed him off when he wanted to play a game of Cadoo? Could I ever forgive myself? I don't know.

Being a single parent isn't a cop out to be a sub par friend, employee, co-worker, parent or anything else that you are. It should be a source of strength and confidence that if you can do the most difficult job of parenthood alone there isn't anything that you can't achieve.

There are times when I let the fact that I care for my son alone get in the way of things that I know that I should do. I have been planning to go to college and get my degree for years but just never seem to be able to give up the time with my son. I know that it is an excuse for me to not get motivated and just do what I need to do. There are so many options out there that no excuse that I can come up with will hold any water anymore. It is hindering my professional life.

There are some positive aspects of single parenthood. I don't have to confer with anyone else on how to discipline my child, where he can go and what he is allowed to do. I am judge, jury and groundation officer. I am always in the loop on what is going on with him. I am the go to person for school and anywhere else that he goes.

I do the best I can with what I have and the life that I have chosen. Sometimes I wish that there was someone to share the load that I have but until that happens, I will happily continue to do it myself.


reformattingmybrain said...

Great post Rachel! Having been a single parent I've had many fears like you. I gave up my chance to go to college years ago because I thought it was better to keep my son here and keep our stability. There isn't a day that goes by that I wonder what would be different had we left for the adventure. But I think I made the right choice to this day. I play the what-if game too often :-) I'm a person who adjusts too - you do what you gotta do - it's that simple. I wish everybody had that determination.

laughingattheslut said...

Sometimes the going back to school thing doesn't do that much for your career. But if it is something that you want to do anyway you should maybe do some what ifs.

What if D's father had him on Mondays and Wednesdays. Could you get started on that degree?

What if you found something for D to do all day on a Saturday once a month and his dad took him for an extra Saturday a month? Could you get started with a Saturday only class?

ARM said...

This is good. I like what you said here:
"Being a single parent isn't a cop out to be a sub par friend, employee, co-worker, parent or anything else that you are. It should be a source of strength and confidence that if you can do the most difficult job of parenthood alone there isn't anything that you can't achieve."

Unfortunately, you are in the minority of feeling this way. Hell, there are people I work with who aren't single parents & use parenting in general as an excuse for these things.

Who knows, I may feel differently if I ever have children. But I'm glad to see that you aren't being a martyr about it. All parents - not just single ones - should have this attitude.

Lefty said...

I think all parents must fear they're not doing it well enough and that they'll mess up their offspring. I certainly worry about that.

Rachel said...

Reformat ~ The what if's plague everyone. I what if myself all the time. What if I never moved to Michigan? What if I never broke it off with James? What if, what if, what if...ARRGH!!!

Laugingattheslut~ I COULD make arrangements for D to go somewhere when I am at school. It is a motivation thing and D is just a convenient excuse.

Arm ~ I try my best to do what I am supposed to do and don't like cop out excuses. They drive me crazy so I won't use them either.
Only when it is legitimate like my son is really sick and I can't come to work. Where I work has a very strict absentee policy and they make no allowances for dependents. I get the same amount of sick days as someone with no kids or someone with 4. We are allowed 9 per year before we are written up and then if we go over 9 again in a year we are terminated. I have come close a couple of times but have never been written up.

Lefty ~ I hear you. That is why we all go gray so early.

David in DC said...

My stepsister and I have looked at our respective family pathologies and have come to the following conclusion:

The best we can do is try to assure that the next generation is at least slightly less screwed up than we are. Everything else is gravy.

You're doing great Rachel.

When you're not sure, recite the serenity prayer. (Which is, by the way, IMHO, the single greatest non-denominational prayer ever written):

G-d, grant me the strength to change the things I can,

The serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and

The wisdom to know the difference.

Of course my favorite grace before meals goes

"Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub. Yay G-d!"

So you might wanna look for other opinions on prayers.

laughingattheslut said...

Bless the food and bless the host.
Those who grab will get the most.--Uncle George

But that's probably not something she wants D to learn either.

M said...

I think it's a tough gig and sounds like you're doing a bloody good job.

When the fear gets you, it can be horrible. Don't worry, you're not screwing him up at all I'm sure!

egan said...

Yes, nice post. Like almost everything in life, there's a positive and negative slant you can take. I think you're very realistic about your relationship with your son. I'm guessing most single parents have the same concerns you do about their child. Scrap the single parent part, I'm sure all parents do.

I bet you're doing a great job Rachel. The fact you even post this shows how much you care for him. Have a nice weekend.

l.b. said...

I made the mistake of staying in a bad marriage for a long time because I thought it would be better for my kids to have their parents making a home for them. I was wrong and am still seeing the consequences.
You being a single mother is no more of a burden to your son than any of the other things we foist upon our children, so just keep on doing what you are doing. You seem like a great mom.

Babybull40 said...

Nice post Rachel.. Being a single parent isn't easy.. but the rewards usually outweigh all the negative.. As far as "D" being an honorable man.. He will get tha from you.. You are on the right track and parenthood in any way is a challenge and inspiring.. Your little guy is a good kid..we all make choices on how we live our lives and you have done right by him already by being there for him and loving and guiding him through lifes journey.. You rock!!!! and so does "D"

Babybull40 said...

Parents BTW all have the similar fears about what would happen to their children.. and everything else about being a Mom or Dad...

Moonbeam said...

You sound like a great Mom to me, Rachel. D is so lucky to have you. All parents, single or not, fear they are not doing enough or have not done enough for their children.
As days go by you find that you have in fact done a good job, even tho at the time you dont realize it. I am very proud of mine, off and on they will say things that let me know I was and am a good Mom. children are older but I still remember what you are are NORMAL and all well be hunkydorry!

Wanderlusting said...

I'm not the most maternal person...but in some ways, I can see being a single parent as a blessing. It's just you and them against the world.

In this day and age, it's more than workable, it's something to be proud of. You are right to look at the positives and you should be proud of the son you have raised (and I know you are).

Dayngr said...

Parenting is the hardest job in the world and carrying it alone is no easy task. Keep your positive outlook, your patience and stick to your beliefs and your son will grow up to be the man you truly wish him to be. Install the important things now and they will be second nature later. Keep your head up!

Erica said...

Lovely post - you are a strong a brave mother from everything that I have read on your blog and D is well on his way to becoming a very honorable young man! In terms of going back to school, it is never too late and you will have plenty of time later on. I don't have a degree also, and always talk about going back to school, but it has to be the right time and for us maybe it is not right now. But what you are achieving with D is more fulfilling and satisfactory than any career anyway.

Rachel said...

David In DC ~ I <3 the Serenity Prayer. My mom had a picture with that on it above the sink when I was growing up.

laughingattheslut ~ Anything that makes him laugh is good enough for me.

m ~ I may not be screwing him up but his step-monster is a piece of work and I am always trying to diffuse her influence.

Egan ~ You are right. Most of the fears that I have are similar even if you aren't a single parent.

l.b. ~ I used to listen to Dr. Laura until I realized that she was full of shit. Staying in a bad marriage for kids is only making everyone's lives more miserable.

babybull40 ~ Thanks. You rock too!!

moonbeam ~ Maybe I stress more because he is my only child so if he ends up being a mess then I can't try and do better on the next one.

wanderlust ~ There are some things that are easier. There are times when I wish that someone was there. Someone to help with the burden of every day life. I miss that partnership.

dayngr ~ Sometimes I feel like I am treading water but if that is me keeping my head up I will tread water forever.

Erica ~ I feel that it is more important for me to raise D than get a degree. Financially it would be better for me to have a degree and if I started now by the time he was in high school I would be done and able to make a better wage. It is tough to decide what to do. I don't really want to be 40 and in college.

Freckle Face Girl said...

Good points. I think all (most) mothers feel guilty about the what ifs. We all feel like we need to spend as much time as possible. Sometimes having a husband takes some of the work load away & sometimes it adds to it. D sounds very well adjusted, which means you are doing a fabulous job.