wisdomfromthesisterhood

The Sisterhood is a place to bring your cup of coffee to. Heck, bring the whole pot :). Sit down, relax, and fall in for a while. No divas or meanies allowed. It's about boy brain, kiddos, food, one crazy labrador, autism and a cat in recovery from a back tire incident. Oh the places you'll go :)

A Horse of a Different Color: Extreme Single Parenting

on September 23, 2012


Single parenting will teach you many things.  It will open your eyes a little bit wider, it will sharpen your skills and single parenting will indeed build your compassion right along with your backbone.  What it won’t do, in the beginning anyway, is prepare you for the many kinds of single parents that are out there.

Single parents are not all the same and the incredibly odd realization I have come to after five years of being one myself is that not all so called “single parents” are created equally.

Once upon a time when I was a new single parent, I naively believed all single parents were the same.  Dedicated to the development of their children, lacking any free time and exhausted beyond belief.  We all struggle alone to raise our children, toil and fight with long hours and little help, and we are all united in putting our children first.  This  is what I believed it was like for everyone.

And then it happened.  The sky opened up, the clouds parted and the pelting rain poured out on me as I became enlightened.  One day when I was speaking to a male friend of mine who is a single parent but has his only child less than ten days a month, it was as though lightening hit me hard.  And the strike, I must say, left me with quite an ouchie.  When I could not arrange a weekend to go play on the coast (something I never did and he apparently did often) he reminded me emphatically that he was a “single parent” too.  I was shocked by the comparison.  Could he not see how drastically different our situations were?  I was floored as he compared being a ‘resort’ style single parent to my role as an ‘extreme’ single parent.  He had breaks, he had time off, he had more days off than on.  I had NO days off.  None, nada, zip, zilcho.  If I was lucky, my ex would take the kid for two weeks in the summer but, with multiple children, there were no guarantees all three would go…nor would I force them to.  350 or so days a year, I was the parent 24/7 and there were no breaks.  Not to be too graphic but, seriously, in those early days, I could no even go pee alone.  Someone was always at the door or barging in and if it wasn’t the kids it was the dog.

That is when I realized that the term “single parent” can be very misleading.  It can describe the free range parents who have their child/children every other week and have vacations on their off weeks or it can equally describe the resort single parents who have their children less than a week a month.  It can also be used to describe the extreme single parent who dedicates their entire existence to taking care of their children with no breaks, no time off.  And, it’s not that free range or resort parents are bad, it’s just that when you have breaks and vacations or rarely see your children it’s just a whole lot different.

Here are just a few examples of the different kind of single parents:

Free-Range Single Parenting-You have your children half the time, one week on/one week off and the children have gotten used to traveling back and forth equally to each of the parent’s homes.

Resort Single Parenting-You have your child/children less than a week or weekend a month.

Grinchly Single Parenting–  This is a tough one to explain.  These parents may indeed have their children 365 days a year like an extreme single parent but they resent your children and see them as the reason you can’t live a full life.  (believe it or not I have known these parents and witnessed the very damaging effect they have on their children.  And, sadly, this selfish single parent is the ONLY parent this poor child has to turn to.)

Narcist Single Parenting-These are parents who are so self absorbed, they do not see their regularly or at all children and yet still invoke the term “single parent” to describe themselves.

Extreme Single Parenting-This parent is all parent all the time.  They have their children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all month, all year.  They may occasionally get a week off if the other spouse chooses to take the kids for the 2 weeks in the summer.  The 2 weeks off in the summer doesn’t happen some summer or, with multiple children, not all children want to go with the absentee parent.

What you will find here in The Sisterhood is a whole lot of extreme single parenting.  It is what it is but as an extreme single parent, my children are my focus.  Childhood is short and I only have a few more years to get it right so my focus in naturally on my children.

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