Single Parenthood: How Do You REALLY Feel?

New mother I’ve been a single mother for many years. Yet when asked, I define myself as a writer, a parent, a woman, a friend, an art advocate – and many other things. Make what you’d like of the sequence in that definition; but I claim my “single parenthood” fully.

I have great pride in what I’ve accomplished as a parent, and fond memories. But I would never say that I claim single parent status proudly, or fondly.

My single parenting status is a fact. It was not a choice.

In a recent online discussion, women and men commented on their identities as single moms and single dads, as well as the way remarriage or live-in partners change the equation, and change their sense of self.

Or not.

A statement

Along with feeling “whole” as a single parent, I also made the following statement in the discussion:

Despite 18 years of raising children essentially alone (and 2 more years to go), while I cherish the privilege of being a mom, I do not hold on to my single parenthood “fondly.” I love my children; we have many joys we’ve shared together.

But I would have preferred a marriage that worked, and to have been part of a couple raising a family. That has nothing to do with embracing fully who I am, the result of what I have lived. But it is a definite belief that if possible, sharing parenting in partnership is better than going it solo.

Choices, knowledge, preferences

When I was in my early 30s, I knew women who were opting for single parenthood via sperm donors. I remember considering the same, briefly, as I was unattached, and dismissing it.

Not for me.

Five years later, I was married with two sons, whom I’ve raised largely on my own. I wouldn’t have missed this joy for anything.

But the truth is, I would’ve given a great deal to have shared it with a loving partner, in a working marriage.

How do you really feel?

In making that statement, I am acknowledging the profound costs – personal, professional, financial, physical, and emotional – involved in going it alone. My sons have paid a price as well, which I can only hope to have compensated for, at least in part. A cooperative ex-partner or extended family would’ve helped, which we didn’t have. But that’s not the point.

Every family has challenges.

I will add that I’ve known women (in particular) who genuinely prefer exercising all decision-making and control over child-rearing. I am not one of them. I wouldn’t have chosen that route.

So I’d like to know –

  • Did you, or would you, choose to be a single parent?
  • How do you feel – really – about parenting solo?
  • How do you feel about the statement I made (quoted) above?

 


© D A Wolf

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Comments

  1. Honestly, I have been a “control freak” in the past. Now, as a single parent, I have all the control and… yeah, I’d be happy to hand some of that back to the right partner.

    But you do what you have to do, right?

  2. My boys were very young when my x-wife decided to break up the family.

    I spent years trying to figure out why the system was so broken. I found much – groups, books, countless stories of parents forced out of their children’s lives.

    Many parents actually want to be a fully equal partner in child raising, but are denied, again and again. The number of affected parents reaches into the hundred of millions across numerous countries.

    50/50 shared parenting should be the default position, after marriage with children, not a pipe dream. Now THAT would be in the best interests of the children.

    Meanwhile, we all do the best we can with what we have, for the sake of our children.

  3. I did not choose my single parenthood. I stayed in a failed marriage too long “for the children” until he finally left to marry another woman. At first I was angry that he moved away and didn’t participate in any of the parenting. Then I realized that the anger that ate at me would hurt my kids. I gradually began to let go of it and find a way to enjoy my role as the only parent. I still would have greatly preferred having a partner to help me raise my children. Even a divorced partner who lived nearby would have been nice to have had then – someone to ask opinions and advice, someone who loved them enough to be there 24/7 like I was.

  4. I am a married Mom of a 2.5 year old. I had never thought about single parent hood or the fact that for a very long period, my Mom was a single parent of 3. I am sure at the time, the challenges were overwhelming and I can only appreciate that fully now. I have a friend debating divorce and she struggles with the idea of single parenthood. 50/50 parenting doesnt really exist…even when you are married.

  5. First off, I disagree with Franco about the 50/50 shared parenting. My kids had that and after nearly a decade of it they are going crazy with the packing up and changing households every four days or week. In fact, my oldest, who just left for college made a very telling comment when she said as she was unpacking her dorm room, “Wow, Mom. This will be the first time in 8 years that I don’t have to pack up and move every week. I am so looking forward to just staying put.”

    I’ve not only parented in my own 50/50 situation, but have observed the effects on children over the last 16 years from the vantage point as teacher in the classroom and seeing my students, frazzled, stressed, angry, depressed and exhausted because of the constant transitions in their lives and that was in good families where the conflict was at a minimum and communication was really good between the parents.

    I personally think that the 50/50 thing with the kids switching households works more for the parents and less for the kids, but that’s just me. I think there are other ways to ensure the child has good relationships with both parents than having them transition from home to home twice a week for the rest of their childhood. As an adult, moving to someone else’s house every other week would drive me nuts. Why is it any different for children?

    As for your questions, BLWolf, here’s my take:

    This article moved me because it hits me right where I’m living and struggling now with the regrets of not experiencing a marriage that worked for me or my children (all.four.of.them.). Your statement echoes my own thinking to the core. If I have any regrets in life you just nailed it. I’m content with my life as a single parent, because I am here and I have to be…but mark my words: It is not what I ever wanted and I wouldn’t choose it if I could get a do-over.
    Great post! I think this resonates with many of us out here in Single Parent Planet.

    I’ve done the bad marriage, the disastrous blended family thing and, now single parenting. Of the three, I’ll take single parenting every time. My preference, however, would be that quality relationship that works for everyone adults and children alike.

  6. Given the choice, I would much rather be part of a happy married couple with children, than a single mom sharing custody of her two girls with my ex husband.

    Then again, if that were the case, then chances are, I wouldn’t be with the man I’m with right now, who makes me happier as a woman than I can possibly ever remember being.

    As a mom, though, I’d have to admit that i’m not as happy as I would like to be…and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that part of me does wish for that “one big happy family” picture.

  7. No, I never did or would choose to be a single parent. But being a 28yr single dad, I wonder if I wasn’t what would I be doing? My daughter is my entertainment; she helps keep me grounded and sane. If she wasn’t born I probably wouldn’t have been as motivated to get the job I have now and ultimately wanted while in school. I don’t think I would have put in as much effort as we have together in learning to cook “real” meals. I do think we have a closer Father Daughter relationship being I’m younger and it just being the two of us. But there are days when I’m just burned out and wish I had someone to help me out (even though I do have a good group of girlfriends that help me out with stuff like picture day and learning to braid hair). Just today I caught myself complaining about seeing X-Mas stuff at the mall and thinking Damn I have to start thinking Christmas soon, plus I have to plan my daughters 7th Birthday party in November. So for all the good things are just as many negative things I guess. It all comes down to perspective and how you let it affect your life. For me personally I think the life I live is a far cry from what I imagined years ago. First off I never planned on being a parent but here I am, so I just tried to have fun with it. Every day is an adventure, I just need to enjoy it and try to get as much sleep as possible.

  8. I am still not quite finished with a divorce that I did not want in the first place, so my opinions are biased on my situation.

    We had a generally happy marriage, but my ex did not get some things that she wanted, although she never told me of these needs.

    For the first 6 months of our separation (we have 50/50 sharing custody), I deeply felt the loss of sharing with my ex, the wonders of raising our daughter. Now it feels more in the background. My ex has already moved on to a new relationship that keeps her busy and makes me feel less like sharing with her, it just doesn’t give me back what I am looking for.

    I think if both parents want 50/50 custody, that should be the starting point, but every couple is different, and some parents will use custody against their ex. Some parents do not want 50% custody. It is such a difficult situation and every divorce is unique, even though we can learn from each other.

    I feel like it is better to build a family with a mom and a dad, at least if you are looking at it from a heterosexual point of view. I think two same sex parents are capable as well. From my perspective it is better to have a partner than not, but if your partner is not pulling their weight, then having a partner does not always help.

    For me, I miss my ex, in general (wish I didn’t) and I miss her when I have wonderful moments with my daughter and realize there is no one to share it with. It is really heartbreaking.

  9. mensresource says:

    Kids need both parents no matter what day a week or every other week I believe its better for the kids to see each parent every week than not see each parent 7 8 days later. My oldest who I have full time misses his brother like crazy he is 8 now and it has been 1yr 4 months since he and my family has seen my youngest son from a different lady. I feel like she skipped out and didn’t try very hard And, now both my boys are paying the price of her SELFISH CHOICE to tell lies to be in full control even if it meant to hurt the kids. Unlike most of our parents did yrs ago! I want my half time but the court system is not following there own rules for the best interest of the kids. I agree with Jason’s last statement to share and see the kids grow up while being together which I think does strengthen the relationship over time!
    I AM SO GLAD TO SEE OTHER DADS HERE MAKING COMMENTS ABOUT THERE FEELINGS, WE NEED MORE DADS TALKING OUT!

  10. BigLittleWolf says:

    I agree with you. But the key is “in the best interest of the children” – they come first. Some parents have plenty of time provided by the courts, and never use it. The other parent is making excuses for the absent one, trying to fill that hole in the child’s heart. It isn’t a gender issue.

    In other cases, a parent may move away. By choice. Again, the custodial parent needs to fill not only the logistical role of two parents, and a greater financial role, but the emotional one as well. It’s terribly hard on all concerned. In other circumstances, one of the parents may truly be destructive to the child. In obvious ways, or insidious and manipulative ways. Should that parent – male or female – be allowed to undermine a child’s physical or emotional well-being?

    These are individual issues. Each situation is different. It isn’t about moms and dads. It’s about good parents.

    I’ve seen great dads deprived of time with their children, because of loopholes in agreements, and selfish mothers who use those loopholes as part of a game of control.

    I’ve seen similar variations at the hands of men.

    Ideally, two parents work together to raise children. We don’t live in an ideal world. And the family court system, in my opinion, is broken. Badly broken. And doing a disservice to children in the process. And cheating good parents of both sexes.

    You should always feel free to speak your mind here. Fairness is never about male or female. And loving kids and doing right by them is not about gender either. It’s about character.

  11. mensresource says:

    Sorry Travis hope the pain subsides soon!
    (Great points BigLittleWolf). But what is a loop hole? When you take off the coat of the sheep and find a Wolf? I think loop holes tend to be the friend of the court’s and the court’s job security! For the better interest for the courts. They definitely don’t practice what they preach about the list of better interest’s of the children.

  12. mensresource says:

    We do what we have to do as long as its the best interest of the children to have both parents half the time period. No matter what your feelings are for the other parent, but let that parent have the chance!

  13. I felt the same as you. Single parenthood sucks rocks. You’re alone, loving your child, but the fullness of having your partner-in-crime to love them with is something I greatly miss.

    I wish she didn’t go down the path she did. It hurt, and it hurt a lot.

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  1. […] is just two years from being over, while I have a decade of duty left.  Her recent article titled, “Single Parenthood: How Do You Really Feel?” resonated with me.  I, too, am proud of what I’ve accomplished in the last few years, the […]

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