oh shit, I think I just opened a can of worms that may upset people, that is not my intention however I feel like this is something I have to put out there for discussion.
So as we have all established in my previous blogs I was a single mama to Thomas for the first few years of his life and as awful as it may sound, in a lot of ways I still consider myself a sort of single parent to him in a lot of ways. Paul loves Thomas and Thomas loves Paul but there is something about a bond that you build with a child when you operate as a duo for so long that is impossible to break.
Every time Thomas was ill I got up and healed him, I did every night feed, changed every nappy, chose everything he had. It was all me, I feel like I earned that bond, I worked hard for it and I don’t know if I will ever be able to share it.
I still feel like generally the decision making with Thomas is down to me, all be it I get those decisions wrong a lot of the time and would love to be able to blame someone (anyone) else, I take responsibility for all of his life altering decisions. That is ALOT of pressure but for some reason I just cannot bear the idea that someone else will have a say. Me and Thomas are a team of two, Batman and Robin, bread and butter, bacon and eggs, some things are just too bonded to add in a third contributor. At least to completely let in.
Don’t get me wrong it causes tension in our house hold that I cant get my head around Paul being an equal partner in our parenting journey, Paul is a massive part of Thomas’s life and he is also the caregiver in our house when I am working so in that sense the responsibility is divided but in some weird selfish twisted little way I refuse to add ketchup to our bacon and egg bond.
Along comes Henry, who I have to share from the start, not so much the night feeds. Why would I choose to formula feed when I’m single and there is only my tired ass going downstairs to make a bottle but then breast feed when I’m not and could potentially burden someone else with sleep deprivation?! Sense was never my strong point!
Henry is definitely a shared responsibility, Paul refuses to let me have my own way all of the time (arse hole) and selfishly insists on having an active role in my youngest sons life. When I was pregnant I couldn’t wait to finally share the joy of a child with another person, finally we would be a foursome, no more having to shoulder all of the responsibility or cleaning up all of the poonami style shitbombs. I was part of a team now, a team of four.
I hadn’t quite prepared myself for what that meant!
- My parents were a MASSIVE help with Thomas, they took him on holidays for a week or two at a time, I was never short of a babysitter especially as we lived with them for my first two years of parenthood and the bond they had and still have with Thomas was a special one. More part-time son and part-time parents than the usual grandparent role. When you have a baby and you already have two full-time parents that changes, it reverts back to the more traditional and conventional grandparent role leaving you as parents to completely and actually deal with a child or two by yourselves! I mean seriously how can this happen? Who says we are capable of this? live-in grandparents should be an essential on every girls baby list! You then start to wonder how do people actually cope with this hellish screaming child. ALL. OF. THE. FUCKING. TIME. Looking after one child when your daughter is a single parent is one thing (I mean single parents need a break right?!) but looking after two children when there is not one but two physically able people at home is undesirable to say the least. Surely now that we are a team we don’t need a break because we help each other out right? which brings me to point number 2.
- You may think that you are sharing ALL of the responsibility for a child but, truth be told, it is likely that you will be sharing all the good bits, the bits that are fun. Days out, choosing clothes, school selections, hobbies, eating all of the left over chocolate so your poor child doesn’t have to endure obesity (I took that one for the team). Chances are your spouse who has never had the pleasure of night-feeds and shitty bums before will heave every time they have to get down and dirty and, since you are a pro now that you’ve raised one child, you’re expected to take the lead. no outside help there to back you up, just you and your completely clueless ‘partner’.
- Sharing a child means sharing the love, even as a team of parents we compete to be the favourite one, I am completely devastated if Henry wants Paul when he hurts himself, this is a new thing to me. Henry doesn’t cry when I go to bed after work because he is quite happy to stay with his Daddy, this breaks my heart a little bit. Maybe he hates me because his father has enforced a no dummy unless its nap time rule and he thinks its my fault, grr stupid Daddy getting in the way of our love! obviously this is not true, Henry loves us BOTH but maybe that is what makes me feel so insecure, Thomas only wanted me, he only needed me and for a long time he only ever had me. I can see why toddlers find sharing things so hard!
- Getting on with a partner when trying to raise two feisty and boisterous boys is not easy! Me and Paul spend our lives arguing and making up, we have totally different views on what is acceptable and we have different taste in absolutely everything! keeping children alive and putting in the time and effort needed to sustain a relationship is hard work. If you aren’t careful your relationship starts to feel like an extra chore to add onto the already never ending list of shit that you need to do and of course when your single this isn’t an issue. Dating casually and keeping a long-term relationship going are two very different things. So far we have managed to hang on in there by the skin of our teeth but there have been plenty of near-misses and I’m still not sure if we will survive this never ending horror story. Making time for each other is not as easy as it sounds when you don’t exactly have people knocking at your door volunteering to take your two feral little monkeys for the night. Even if my some miracle someone was free on a night I was off work where would the money come from to go on a date? feeding two boys is a massive strain on the purse!
- When your a single parent you have this insane ability to just get up and crack on, I mean there is no other option! your baby needs you to just keep on keeping going. I managed fine with Thomas on my own, my house was spotless by 5AM after an impromptu cleaning session following his 4AM feed. When you have a partner sleeping upstairs something inside you flips and you turn into a self-pitying child who refuses to do the cleaning because why the hell should you when dick head is still knocking out some Z’s living the life of riley! Your ability to keep going is somehow hindered by the presence of this other adult because you always feel hard done too and as a woman how else do you deal with that other than digging your heals in and throwing a hissy fit!
Having been both a single parent and had a baby whilst in a relationship I honestly feel like a lot of the time it is harder to co-parent than it is to just go it alone. Making all of the decisions is daunting but its also rewarding, I got more free time going it alone than I do now and financially I was better off working and topping up my wage with benefits. Despite all of the above there is something special about raising a child together and knowing that at the end of a really shitty day, when the children have driven you to the brink of insanity someone has got your back. There is someone there who has lost there shit too and shares that parent guilt. Some things are worth sacrificing to just not feel quite so alone.
I would be interested to know what your thoughts on single parenting versus co-parenting are?