Here’s What I Wish Everyone Knew About Being a Sole Single Parent

I’m a single parent. More specifically, I’m the only parent in my son’s life and refer to myself as “a true single parent.” I’ve coined this term to describe myself because it means that I parent my child with no direct involvement from the other parent or his family or friends. I know some people become sole single parents in other ways, but I’ve been on my own since the beginning because my son’s father decided early on that he didn’t want to be a father to my son. And because my parenting experience is different from other single parents, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that I wish everyone knew about life as a truly single parent. 

 

1. The guilt of true single parenting is sometimes debilitating.

I grew up with both of my parents. I know they love me and that they wanted me. I don’t have to worry about knowing where I came from, wondering who I look like, or wondering about my other parent’s personality.

Growing up, my grandparents were who I turned to for fun and comfort.  They got to sneak me candy before dinner or bedtime. They were not my disciplinarians and caretakers. They were able to spoil their grandchildren

My parents, on the other hand, aid in the everyday care of my son. More specifically, they help with disciplining, learning, meals, and everything in between. Even my son’s great-grandmother helps, and they all have to be more like parents than the fun adult figures in his life.

While I was blessed with extra grandparents who treated me like their own, my son is missing his paternal grandparents all together. They may not even know he exists. The weight of this hangs on me, especially as my son continues to grow.

 

 

2. I carry a lot of fear and anxiety—and it falls on only me.

I think fear, anxiety, and worry about the unknown comes with parenting. But as the only parent, I carry the load alone.

In addition to all of the anxiety that comes with parenting, I’m also anxious about my son’s father because he is part of the unknown. We haven’t had real contact since I was about six weeks pregnant. I pray my son’s father has a change of heart, but I even worry about what will come with that too.

 

I think fear, anxiety, and worry about the unknown comes with parenting. But as the only parent, I carry the load alone.

 

Will he tell my son he didn’t want him? Will he make me the villain in my son’s eyes? Perhaps he’ll never change his mind and I wonder if my son will grow up feeling like he’s missing a hole in his life the size of his father? Am I exhausting my resources and asking too much of my family and friends? All these worries weigh on me constantly. 

 

3. I second guess every decision I make for my son. 

Because I have no one to share this parenting responsibility with or to share the daily turmoil of parenting, I worry about making the “right” choice. I have no built-in partner or sounding board, even for things like a quick grocery store run or anything last minute. There is no one to take turns with to shower, sleep in, or make dinner. Sometimes it feels like there’s not even a single moment to think. 

Sure, sometimes having no one to consult on a decision makes life easier. You also get all the love, the cuddles, the hugs, and the huge morning smiles. I’m #1 for any and every aspect of my son’s life. But that comes with a lot of pressure too. 

What often hits me hard and brings me to tears is that there is also no one to share the joy. My son’s father is missing so much. He’s missing one of the happiest, most wonderful kids I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. 

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I wanted my son. Nothing made more sense than having him at that moment and every moment since. If he knows anything for sure, I want it to be that. 

 

 

4. The gap between sole single parents and other parents feels large, but it doesn’t have to be.

My single motherhood comes with so many mixed emotions. I love my son and I love my life, but that does not change the fact that I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. In my opinion, parenthood is meant to be a shared responsibility, and that is something I miss every day.

 

In my opinion, parenthood is meant to be a shared responsibility, and that is something I miss every day.

 

For other single parents and/or coupled parents, I think inclusion and acknowledgment are key. Try to avoid partner or ex-partner complaints. For example, instead of “I hate the way my ex does the kid’s laundry,” try “I can’t stand the way that my ex does the laundry, but it has to be exhausting for you to never get a break from laundry.” Venting is good and we should all have a network to do so, but not without acknowledging another parent’s struggle.

Additionally, think about how you can help a solo single parent in small ways. For example, when running a household errand like grocery shopping, I need an ally. Offer to go together. Simply shopping with like-minded adults helps me feel less alone.

 

Read More: Co-Parenting During COVID-19: An Expert Shares 5 Helpful Tips

 

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