10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Single Parenting:
1. It’s hard, really, really hard. Single parenting is harder than natural child birth and that hurts like hell.
2. You are going to fail, going to trip and fall. If you aren’t being told that YOU ARE THE WORST PARENT EVER! well, honestly, you aren’t doing your job. Go back to bed, close your eyes. Count to ten, get back up and start over. As much as your kids are supposed to love you, they are not supposed to love your decisions. We are supposed to PARENT our children. That means we make wiser, more mature decisions than they would make this automatically means we are not their favorite people in the world. You shouldn’t always be at complete odds with your kids however you shouldn’t be their best friend all the time either.
3. It’s a permanent gig. You can’t take your kids back to Wal-mart, Macy’s, JC Penney’s or wherever the stork brought them from. He didn’t leave the gift receipt, you can stop looking for it. It’s a no refund, no return, no money back gig. You are stuck. Better or worse those kids are yours every single ding dang day.
4. It is very rewarding if you can slow down enough to overlook the hard part (did I mention it is really hard). Those little kids grow up and then you have teenagers which is awesome because that means they are almost ready to MOVE OUT however they aren’t quite ready to move out which means you have a lot of DRAMA going on with some hormones and that is hard. Did I mention the hard part?
5. I love it. Wouldn’t trade it for anything except some quiet, maybe a few vacations, having some extra money in my bank account, less stress, fewer gray hairs, a quieter house, no PTA meetings (wow can you imagine?), no seriously – wouldn’t trade single parenting for anything. I could – I could give him custody and I won’t because I love my kids. I love all the stress and joys that come with this hard part of life. The best part? They are going to move out!! I am counting down the days!
6. It’s an ocean that I feel like I am drowning in every single day. A beautiful, blue, deep ocean full of the most amazing discoveries. Kids are incredible. Single parenting is a gift. We get to unwrap a little bit more of that gift each day. Don’t lose sight of the wonderfulness even when it’s hard. Even when they are teenagers and it sucks.
7. Teenagers are amazing too. I remind my teenagers (I have three at the moment) that we are supposed to fight. If we are not fighting, then they are not trying to grow up and I am failing them. They are mini adults. I am supposed to be helping them set their own boundaries, they are supposed to be pushing my boundaries. That is the natural progressions of life. It’s hard but it is beautiful.
8. Co-parenting in my house it is a joke. My kids dad has adult on-set bipolar disorder, his choice to live an unmedicated life means he is not a reasonable person. He makes strange, unhealthy choices. Not someone who can co-parent. It is something that is simply accepted and we move on. My children and I do not set unrealistic expectations for their father. We accept what he is and we go on with our lives. Do the same. Do not hate, forgive and live your own life. It makes single parenting a little easier. Do your best to co-parent, set an example for your kids but don’t stress over it.
9. It is lonely. Very very lonely. Sometimes you feel like you are sinking and that is ok. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Take time for yourself. Make yourself a priority. You cannot be an effective parent if you do not take care of yourself.
10. Single parenting is hard. You cannot do it all. Don’t even try. Make lists and prioritize. It is ok to say no, to other people, to friends, to family and to your yourself. You are not Wonder woman, you are not Super man. Cut yourself some slack. Go out with your friends, make friends and have a drink or two.