We dated for a year. One thing led to another and we moved in together. We were expecting our first child of the many we had planned to have. I believed our children would grow with the love and care of both parents. We were blessed with the most beautiful princess, the joy of our family. When my daughter was around two and a half years old, my ex-husband got a job overseas. He promised to remain the pillar of our family. I was sad and happy at the same time. Sad because he was leaving and happy as our finances would improve and that translated to a better life.
The preparations to report for his new job took a month, and I escorted him to the airport. As the plane took off, I saw the wings extend, and I knew he was gone. I felt as if I had given him wings to fly away from me. He kept in touch for a year and supported us financially. Things changed when one day he told me he had enrolled for his Ph.D. studies. He said there would be no more support for us, as he was channeling all the money to his studies.
I was broken and devastated. How could he do this to us? The once-constant phone calls dwindled and came to a halt. I was officially a single parent. I had to take care of my babies, alone. They are two now, as he left me pregnant with our second born.
Single parenting has its share of challenges, and here are some of those challenges I juggle.
1. Financial constraints
A source of income for a single parent comes in handy. The financial support from my onetime Prince Charming ceased when I had just started on a permanent job. It was tough, but it could have been worse if I was still jobless. The bills, food, clothing, leisure, and everything in between were all on me. At times I had to seek support from my family to meet some of the expenses. I don’t know what I could have done without them.
Planning for my finances has helped me stabilize. I have set long term and short term financial goals. The budget for monthly expenses and savings is in place. When I get my salary and money from other sources, I know what goes where. In all this, I ensure I save up for insurance to secure the future for my children. You never know what tomorrow holds for you.
2. Emotional struggles
When you have a support system around, things seem pretty easy. As single parenting creeps in, you are the only parent unless you are co-parenting. You have to make everything work out. This can be so draining for you and trickles down to the kids. You have to develop new ways to deal with loneliness, anger, anxiety, and fear of the unknown.
Don’t let yourself be trapped under the canopy of responsibility and uncertainty. Seek like-minded people and friends for support as low emotional support is associated with poor health. Sharing your struggles with others does wonders on your emotions. Social media support groups also help you come out stronger.
As a single parent, I am the sole breadwinner, nanny, gardener, chauffeur, and planner. It is not easy having all these responsibilities on your shoulders. It’s even tougher when you have two toddlers like mine. You have to monitor everything they do. Toddlers are like a second shadow; they follow you everywhere. I am sure every parent will agree with me on this. Having them around will drive you bonkers and deplete all the energy you’ve got.
A single parent is not a bot, able to crawl and do everything without being drained. Your battery needs to be recharged, or else it will go flat. Make some alone time to evade all these daily hustles. You can arrange for a kids’ sleepover at a friend’s, or entrust them to a daycare for a few hours. To revamp yourself, you can listen to your favorite music, sip your favorite tea or coffee, or eat a bar of chocolate. If you are an outdoor person, you can take a walk, listen to the chirping birds, or watch the sunset. These little things matter; they can work miracles.
4. Parental responsibilities
When I gave birth to my second born, I was all alone. I had to decide on where to leave my then 28-month-old princess while I was in the hospital. When she started school, I struggled to choose where to enroll her. How and when to teach my kids skills has always been a tough decision to make. Instilling discipline without overdoing or underdoing it is an uphill task for me. But as a parent, you have to be responsible, since your children are looking up to their hero. Yes, you are their hero and have to do all it takes to make them happy and better citizens for tomorrow.
Google is a good friend who has helped me with decision making and responsible parenting. I cannot overlook my parents’ and siblings’ contributions to how to train my children. Books, articles, and webinars on parenting have helped me a great deal.
Single parenting has its fair share of challenges, but also rewards. The kisses, hugs, love, and playtimes are out of the world. Seeing your children transform into intelligent, loving, empathetic, and successful people is a lifetime achievement.
The challenges will not last forever — nothing does. If you persevere, you will have the last laugh. I am far from having mine but I am steadily ending there. Don’t let anything stand in your way as a parent; face the challenges head-on. As Kate Winslet puts it, “You always have to carry on. And you can because you have to.”