Here I stand, dishevelled, and on the brink of insanity. Surrounded by a sea of chaos, slowly losing the will to carry on. Tears tickle the corners of my eyes, foretelling the fall of floodgates, holding back a sea of sorrow. I take a deep breath, count to ten and think to myself, “Only one more week!”
One more week until…?
Only one more week until my husband flies back to the U.K and this tiny taste of single parenthood will become nothing but a distant memory. A memory I will most likely suppress into the deepest darkest pockets of my subconscious, never to see the light again.
After only 7 months of ‘doing it alone’, I’m a shadow of the person I used to be. A nervous wreck, who desires nothing more than to curl up into a foetal position and play dead. Of course, my minute’s worth of solitude is then spoiled by a pile up of leaping kids who think it’s funny to use me as some sort of bouncing apparatus.
Single parents, on the grand scale of things, I have only stepped a day in your shoes. However, having taken one small bite of single parenthood, I have grown the uttermost respect for those who do it 365 days a year. I can’t say I am a hat-wearing type of person, but if I were, I’d take mine off to YOU ALL. For the millions of parents whose day-to-day reality this is, this is my tribute to you….
Single parents, I salute you…
I salute you for the times you dragged yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn, when all you wished to do was sleep. The times you rushed around with a toothbrush dangling from your mouth whilst half-dressed kids run amok. The times you have spent wading through ankle-high seas of toys and other miscellaneous crap.
I salute you for the times you managed to get the kids to school on time, maybe a little shabby and breakfast on the go, but on time. The times you playfully crawled around on all fours when you’d much rather sit down and drink coffee. The times you made aeroplanes from cardboard boxes, dens out of bedsheets and kites from paper and string.
I salute you for the times you walked into your just tidied living room to find your child had smeared Sudocrem over everything they could possibly get their hands on. The times you stood on those damned Legos and very nearly broke your foot. The times your toddler threw a tantrum because, God forbid, you broke their cheese in half.
I salute you for the times you kept cucumber cool as you watched your car key, mobile phone or any other expensive gadget you own get flushed down the toilet. The times little scoundrels not only scribbled felt-tips all over the walls, but their younger siblings too. The times they ripped open the beanbag and created an in-home winter wonderland (Yes, the same winter wonderland you played in yourself, once the kids were sent to bed!)
I salute you for the times muddied hands spoiled an outfit. The times you walked into work with milk stains on your shoulders and vomit in your hair. The times you almost fell asleep on your desk because you felt so damned tired…and not because you partied the night before!
I salute you for the times you resisted that very appetising bottle of wine in the fridge. The times you sacrificed your social life for nights curled up on the sofa watching yet another Disney classic you’ve seen 100 times over. The times you finally get your children into bed but then the loneliness hits when you realise you have no one to share your evening with.
I salute you for the times the floorboards creaked as you snuck away from the baby’s room. The times you helped your children with homework so complicated you needed to be a member of Mensa to do it. The times you froze your arse off on the sidelines of a football match more times than what is healthy.
I salute you for the times you endured the phrases …
“Don’t want that one!”
The times you shouted…
“He’s your brother, not a pull toy!”
“WILL YOU JUST BE QUIET?”
And the times you caught yourself belting out kids TV theme tunes and then remember how much you despise those programmes.
I salute you for the times tiny hands slipped under the bathroom door when all you wished to do was ‘pee in peace’.
I salute you for the times you DIDN’T fall asleep during your children’s school plays, guitar solos, swimming galas and dance routines.
I salute you for…
The times you comforted a screaming toddler in the supermarket aisle, and for the times you took them outside of said supermarket and gave them a good fashioned telling off.
The times you remembered to attend school events, and for the times they may have slipped your mind, but you felt terrible because of it.
The times you made a special effort to cook nutritious meals, and for the times you took a culinary break and served up the classic chicken nuggets and chips.
I salute you for the times you hid in a cupboard to eat a chocolate bar because, quite frankly, you didn’t want to share it… and the times your kids found you in said cupboard and you reluctantly handed it over.
I salute you for the times you tried to do the right thing even when you didn’t know what the right thing was.
I salute you for the times you wiped away the tears. The times you forced a smile when you were crying inside. The times you seldom complained.
I salute you for the times you sat up all night with a sick toddler in your arms. The times you paced the corridors all night, consoling a baby who just wouldn’t stop crying. The times you were short with your children and regretted it later.
I salute you for the times you got turned down for a job due to your circumstances. The times you have struggled to make ends meet. The times you have worked two jobs or more to support your family.
I salute you for the times you went without so you could put food on the table.
The times you held it together even when your seams were falling apart.
The times you quietly questioned whether you could go on.
The times you sobbed yourself to sleep at night.
I salute you for being the anchor that stables the ship, for loving your children more than you’ve ever loved yourself and for being the best parent you could possibly be.
You aren’t just single parents. You are bread bakers, bread-winners, Knee-patchers and peace-makers. You are hug-givers, shoe-finders, nose-wipers and sock-matchers. You are errand-runners, chefs, cleaners and taxi cab drivers. You are laundrettes, costume-makers, bill-payers and …
Forget saving people from burning buildings and fighting off evil villains, single parents do the work of true superheroes!
Having had a very small slice of the single parent cake, I can only imagine what one must go through on a day to day basis. Sure enough, the cake seemed tasty to begin with, but as the days passed by, the cake didn’t taste so sweet anymore. In fact, it grew stale.
Parenting is a terrible job when you think about it: Long hours, no pay, the boss is always moody and demanding. In fact, raising children is a bit like being pecked to death by a chicken, or having each limb stretched and pulled until you are one seam-burst away from imploding.
Parenting isn’t for the faint-hearted, and it certainly isn’t a piece of cake! For those of you who play both mum and dad, I salute you. I take my hat off to you for carrying out the work of a superhero. Single parents, you deserved more than medals, praise, gifts, accolades and flapping capes – You deserve a break, a lifetime of encouragement and a supporting arm around your shoulders.
You are the epitome of strength and grace, heroic in my book. You are selfless, courageous and the greatest role model your child could ever possibly need.
And yes, there are times when you might find yourself in that foetal position, crying in despair, but through all of the temper tantrums, sticky floors, laundry piles, sleepless nights and continuous string of bodily fluids, you see the light at the end of the tunnel – when you get a smile, a thank you and an “I love you” from the person you sacrifice everything for.
“Being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress, twice the tears, but also twice the hugs, twice the love and twice the pride.”