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that mama hustle is hard alone

imageI was raised by a single mum, and I know it was hard for her to be a mother, made so much harder by her own struggles with her personal demons. So life was hard for us for other reasons the just being an only child in a single parent home. Luckily for me, mum had a lot of support from her parents, so I was well provided for materially whilst growing up.
I actually thought it cool having my parents separated as it meant I got to fly alone to Queensland in the school holidays and got twice as many presents, family and friends. I was always a glass half full kind of person, and thanks to my early education and travel was exposed to a lot of different ways kids were brought up and I knew I was actually pretty lucky.
So when I realised I would be parenting solo, I really thought I could handle whatever that entailed, and do an awesome job of it no worries, as we say here so often in oz land. The reality is much harder then even I could have imagined, with a huge part of that difficulty arising from needing to fulfil the roles of both mother and father. I always imagined being in an equal relationship, and I would have been happy to work and have the father stay home, or share roles equally, I would never have wanted a traditional role of man provide, woman cook and clean. Finding myself with children and single, their father who may as well have been a sperm donor, meant that in reality I needed to worry a lot more about it all. Worrying more meant that I had less time and energy to devote to actually just mothering. It meant that I was far more tired and stressed then if I had someone to help share the load, to have support of and to enjoy the little rewards with. When you are alone in sea of hardships and depressions, having no one to appreciate the little moments of happiness means that they disappear even more quickly.
Having no daddy around means I need to be the kind and gentle mama, and then sometimes moments later the mean and disciplinary mama. I have no support so sometimes they wear my patience so far down that I snap, I tell them things like I wish I could give them away to a family who would be really mean to them, that they are horrible ungrateful children. Then of course I feel terrible and tell them I didn’t mean it at all. I feel like an awful person being so inconsistent, I wish I could be endlessly patient and remain my usual gentle and kind self. It’s the guilt that I am somehow setting them up for a lifetime of dysfunction that eats away at me.
Sometimes I feel like I have to try so much harder to give them a wonderful childhood, buying them things and taking them places, then I feel upset that they don’t appreciate anything I do for them. But am I really doing it for them, or am I doing it to make up for my own perceived inadequacies I feel as being a failure as a parent, failure because I am alone.
I know everyone says that one good parent is better then two arguing, stressed and sad ones, and I want to believe that my choices will mean that my sons will grow up to be better men than their father. The question is how do I do this insanely difficult job whilst retaining my sanity, when I am so alone. I really believe that it does take a village to raise a child, and I don’t understand how our culture alienates and isolates single parents so easily.

Published inRaising boys

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