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Please don't compare your life as a single parent to mine as a solo parent....

Uncategorized Feb 11, 2019

I’m asking you to please stop comparing your life as a single parent to mine as a solo parent.  In fact let’s all stop comparing, let’s stop trying to one up each other, lets show each other compassion no matter what our unique parenting situation, but today I’m specifically talking about solo parenting after loss of a spouse and it IS different.

No matter what our parenting situation, we ALL deserve compassion, support, and understanding in our unique situations, because lets be honest, parenting is hard enough for all of us, it’s twists and turns, and ups and downs, laughter, and tears, guilt, fear, overwhelming joy, and chaos, all wrapped into one, and that’s just for a two-parent household.

Being a single parent has it’s own struggles too, it turns those up to a whole new level as well as communication challenges with a co-parent, navigating new spouses etc. as well as coparents that just are uninvolved.

Solo parenting is a whole other ball game, and solo parenting after loss has a whole other set of issues.

So many people have said to me, we are single parents we have to support each other, while I agree we all need to support each other, and that we are all struggling and should lean on one another, very few people understand the additional struggles and pressures that a solo parent faces after one parent dies.

I know there are a lot of solo parents out there who didn’t lose a partner to death, but a partner that just chose to walk away, either because of mental health issues, addiction or unresolved personal problems, there are some parallels, but those solo parents face another set of issues different from what I am talking about today.

Today I’m talking about being a solo parent after loss, because I am one, so I can speak to this with confidence, compassion and deep understanding.

These are the 6 reasons that I feel solo parenting after loss is different:

  1. The sadness you feel for your children not having that other parent.

 My kids only have me, I wrote before about half of unconditional love, well that’s my children’s reality, they now only have half of that guaranteed “I will jump in front of a car for you love.”

They will always have one seat empty at every football game, dance recital, graduation, wedding etc.

It’s the reality that all of our happy moments will always be just a little bit sad, they will always feel the absence of their Dad at every happy occasion, I will carry this sadness with them.

  1. You feel like you failed as a parent.

 We all struggle to try to figure out what is best for our children; making decisions from the day they are born, hoping they are the right ones.

Should I sleep with my baby?

Should I let them be accountable for their own homework or manage it? Should I put them in swimming or baseball?

Should I let them hang out with that friend? Etc.

But the one thing we know for sure is that it’s our job to protect them, from physical harm, from emotional pain and trauma.

When they lose a parent all that goes out the window, all the years of trying to protect them from being scarred for life, over. They lost a parent, and that is the most difficult pain a child can face.

One day when my teenage son was going through something difficult, he yelled, I don’t want to talk to you about this, I want to talk to Dad!

Let me tell you, there is no arrow through the heart quite like that statement, of course he does, and he should be able to, but he can’t, and I can’t fix it.

The result of that regardless of the loss being out of your control is guilt, a feeling of failing them.

 3.  You are REALLY alone.

 There is no co-parent to bounce things off or call freaking out about finding your teen smoking weed, there is literally ONLY you.

Making decisions on your own, hoping they are the right ones, you miss that person that always had a different perspective on the situation, maybe the parent that understood that child better.

There is no one to do pick ups or drop offs, no one to pass the ball to and say; you take this one, I’m done, no one to cook a meal or pick up milk or help with homework or projects.

There is an intense loneliness in feeling the full weight of your children’s future and emotional wellbeing solely on you.

 4.  There is NO alone time.

 Okay I have a lot of friends who have been through separation and have had an extremely difficult time adjusting to not being with their kids everyday, I get that, and in no way am I disrespecting that.

I get all my time with them, I mean with 3 kids there is almost NO time when I am by myself in my home, when you are grieving yourself, trying to manage a home, business and other outside relationships, sometimes this reality feels like you are choking, no where to escape. If someone’s car breaks down, me, someone needs a ride, me, someone is hurt, me, someone needs anything, me. I don’t get some weekends off, or a break, I am a full time, 24 hour on call everything to these kids.

 5.  You are the only financial provider.

 There is no child support, there is no splitting the cost of summer camp or university, the burden lays completely on your shoulders, with children there are never ending costs and surprises, so even if you budget well there will always be times when the burden feels too much to bare, add in being a business owner and the reality of finances being unpredictable and without health benefits and it can feel overwhelming and fearful at times.

 6.  You feel Grateful in a different way.

 At the end of the day, I realize that I am blessed to be the one here, being a part of their everyday life, that my husband is missing out on watching them become amazing human beings, I feel immense sadness for him.

So even on the tough days, the days it all feels like too much, I will practice self-compassion, and I wont take it for granted.

Most of the time I feel empowered as the leader of this family, the CEO of my life, proud of what I am doing, proud of their resilience and compassion. Proud to be their leader, to say I am doing this, for them, and to make my husband proud, and mostly because being a Mom is by far my most rewarding position I will ever hold. I only hope that one day, my children will look back and say WOW, my mom is amazing, she was our rock, that, will make every hard moment worth all of it. XO

 

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