There’s a lot of chat about single parents in the blogosphere at the moment. Notsupermum and Rosie Scribble have written eloquently on the upsides of solo parenting, while MyShitty20s is talking openly about the downsides.
I’ll admit – I've been trying to write a post for days but struggled to say anything sensible about single parenting. It wasn’t a choice I made. My marriage imploded when I was six months pregnant, and it was a bit late to think, “probably shouldn’t have kids with this guy”. We limped along for a little while, but within months I was single, and had Flea.
After writing posts, deleting posts and rewriting posts, here’s the thing: I don’t think single parenting is any easier, harder, better or worse than any other sort of parenting. It’s just different.
I’m not a perfect parent. I forget stuff. A lot. We’re always late. Flea eats breakfast in the car. The first time she saw my brother ironing, Flea turned to me with eyes like saucers and said: “What’s THAT, Mummy?” Oh, and once I dropped her head first into a toy box. Not on purpose, in case you were wondering.
But Flea’s teacher told me this week that she’s one of the best behaved children she’s ever taught. And that my daughter is (excuse me while I polish my halo) “just so completely full of joy and life, I’m lucky to have her in my class”. So, you know, I think we’re probably doing okay.
Actually, I think what’s hard isn’t single parenting. It’s divorced parenting. I think that might just be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are days, like today, when I could cheerfully crawl under the bed and never come out. Days when Flea lays her hand on my arm and says, “Be happy Mummy,” and I think my heart will break.
Being a divorced parent means constantly being pulled in different directions. On the one hand, there’s the instinct to distance yourself from the person who betrayed you. But on the other hand there’s the instinct to protect your child, and that means nurturing and supporting her relationship with two parents. And you’ve got to feel sorry for the new guy, because he’s the one paying the price for all the shenanigans the old guy got up to – and he has to hide under the bed on a semi-regular basis.
All this is bad. But today, I think I hit the nadir of divorced parenting. In a moment of what can only be described as emotional Armageddon, I downloaded a Miley Cyrus track on iTunes. I know. Where will it all end?
All I’ll say is, if you ever catch me with Celine Dion on my iPod, it’s time to stage an intervention.