Tuesday, July 23, 2013


....and the sole parent.

I always said that when I was pregnant, it would make evolutionary sense that I also grew an extra set of arms .... I know I could have used an extra pair of hands when my children were small.

....and then this week, I haven't needed more arms, I really need a clone. So many places that my children and I need to be, so few minutes during which to be there.

...and its times like this that I feel overwhelmed by this sole parenting gig*. 

I never planned to do this parenting thing alone.
I never realised how oriented our society is to families with two parents (and apparently, endless other willing aunts, uncles, grandparents who are all fit and healthy and ready to help).
Between school excursions I can't get my child to and am almost begging for someone who can drop them at the meeting point,  to music camps that I have absolutely no hope of ever being on time to collect a child from, I get the tut-tuts of those who say that they are sad that my children are "missing out". (Like I have a choice?  Like they aren't already missing out on having a father? Like I haven't asked for help already?)

When I explain that it Just Me doing everything, nobody gets it.  I've tried variations of the following to try to explain....

Feeling seedy yourself and a child starts vomiting? Guess what, you're up on vomit duty.  All night if needed.
Fighting through a mountain of work and a child is not dealing well with their grief? Guess what, you're up for endless hugs, backrubs, hours of listening and calming and worrying about just how messed up they are.  Your work can just sit there and wait.
Fancying a bit of "me" time with a glass of wine and a good book? Someone is bound to require you to drive them somewhere and you forgot that you promised to drive them.
Too tired to make dinner?  Tough luck, it's you cooking or the kids eat toast for dinner for the third night in the week.
Child needs surgery in hospital and you are falling apart at the thought of it?  Suck it up and be strong, this isn't about you right now.

They nod, look concerned, then offer me no help whatsoever.

So now I think that since I never grew that spare set of arms and I can't convince the local scientific institute to clone me, I guess I am going to have to learn how to juggle.

* - I am not looking for anyone to offer me "solutions" on what I "should" do, I am just sharing in the hope that someone else says "yeah, I get what you are saying.  Sole parenting IS hard".


  1. so understand and get what you are saying/feeling. Only parenting IS HARD. Even after 5+ years there are times when I just don't know how I am going to split myself in two, nor do I want to do this anymore. A few weeks ago my daughter landed in the Emergency room the night before a big dance performance. Thankfully her foot turned out to be fine - but I had a huge 2 day meltdown where I couldn't get past the "this is the rest of my life, I don't think I can do this anymore and I just want someone to take care of ME for once". I really didn't want anyone to tell me how strong I was or tell me "how far" I had come or how well the kids were doing. I really needed a good 2 day "pity party" for myself. Fortunately those times are fewer and the kids are getting more resilient as time has gone one. But I think I will always have those days. It really does suck and really is hard to be the only one.

  2. I feel your pain. Sole parenting is hard and it sucks! I hate having to ask for help. I really enjoy reading your posts.

  3. Amen, at the hospital yesterday with a child all am for a procedure. Moving a child into college in couple weeks. The endless list of household and car tasks that needs done. The tears flow. I'm learning how to get most of the items accomplished- not what I wanted to do solo. We're eating too much fast food. Debbie

  4. Amen! Like you say, nothing is to be done about it. I hear you and have been there right with you! My kids are older now and it was such a relief when they could drive the car on their own, even though that brings another set of worries. It still helped so much to let me take a breather. Sometimes I really "hated" all those school activities. Plus the agony of seeing all the "complete" families. It still can break my heart and make me resentful. Thank goodness everyone here can relate.

  5. I get what you're saying. Sole parenting seems insane. (my kid was off and out of the house very soon After, so I have not had to do any of this. I therefore do not relate directly, but - man.)

  6. Amanda, although my kids are in their early 20s, I so get what you are saying. I am grateful that I don't have younger children. I have also learned that no one does get it and the world was built for families with two parents.

    I still have to contend with issues like car accidents, flunking college grades, new clothes needed, depression, etc. If their father were alive, I would at the very least have someone else to discuss the plan for dealing with these types of situations.

    As mentioned in one of the responses, you absolutely are entitled to pity parties whenever life is overwhelming!! We all should have our pity parties!

    Thank you for an amazing post!

  7. Amanda, I can so hear ya. It has been difficult for me as well but I am one of the lucky ones who have family (mother, father, brothers and sisters) who will usually come to the rescue if I need it. It is difficult to juggle these activities. Two of my kids are in soccer but thankfully on the same night and time but away games can be challenging. I will have a third one starting next year so I don't even want to imagine what that will entail...just know that I feel your pain and I'm rooting for all of us to come out on top. To heck with the parents who say too bad they are missing out. They are blind and have no idea.


  8. Dear Amanda
    I am weeping uncontrollably reading this post today. After losing my husband six months ago, I am now left to continue our journey for our three daughters 19, 14 and 9. And I, like you, never intended on doing this alone and in some ways did it more for him. I am still raw and many nights my kids still have scrambled eggs for dinner three nights a week. For me it is more about the guilt that they are forever messed up and will never be whole people, yet I work on this each day. The hardest part for me on this new journey is the effect on my children who before this happened had a very peaceful and blissful existence. It is still yet to be seen how their fragile worlds will be effected, but I strive to at least make it as comfortable as possible.
    My best to you and your children, I truly enjoyed reading your heartfelt words and concerns.

  9. I get it.

    I chafe like crazy when people compare "single" parenting and "only" parenting; I've ended friendships over that conversation. Single parents don't get that even if your ex is a complete louse, the possibility exists that s/he could come through when the circumstances are dire enough; it's different than being a "just me" parent.

    Add in a child with additional needs--whether it's a diagnosis or just one who needs a little more of your time--and it's even harder for partnered parents to understand the demands.

    Hang in there, sister. You're in the right place.

  10. Thank you so much for your post. Once again I discover its not just me, there are others out there trying to paddle with only one oar

  11. Oh yes full time work, one 5 year old, one 16 year old, one dog, two cats, four fish and a guinea pig for the school holidays! I've missed or been late sending cards for every single birthday this year, I’ve taken more holidays off work than I’ve ever taken in my 8 years working there, to do college interviews, dancing dress rehearsals, dancing performance, doctors, dentist appointments etc.....Every single appointment gets put in my phone's calendar otherwise i forget.

    Juggling is the only way, no family or friends to help so all down to me - coming up to the year anniversary of Steve dying, 24th August 2012, from a ruptured berry aneurysm aged 38…..

    Karen (from over the pond!)

  12. oh - lots of love, good wishes and prayers your way.

  13. It's been almost two years, and for the first time I am reading something I can relate to, and I don't feel like such a failure. Thank you. I am not alone.

  14. This so resonates with my soul. Thank you for your raw openness.

  15. Amen! Thank you for sharing!!

  16. My husband died May 14, 2013 and with 2 boys 18 and 15 and and daughter 9 today I feel lost. Unable to grieve I am always putting on a brave face for my kids. Thinks for sharing.