And then you realise that you are doing it on your own too.
Lately I have been having a few conversations with friends about parenting, life and the choices we make.
Let me start by saying I am incredibly lucky.
I have a very supportive and present ex husband. He is a great father to our children and goes above and beyond to make my life easy too.
So what you see here is by no means a criticism of him.
However the moment I decided *and it was my choice* to end my marriage, my life changed rapidly and significantly.
I made the choice to go back to work full time, to pay the bills, which meant I had to rely on my Dad to drop and pick up the kids from school, play and entertain them after school and feed them dinner. If ever my Ex was on call, I had to change my plans or organise childcare.
I would then come home and bath them and read to them and put them to bed, most evenings. I was however leading a double life because I was in a very toxic relationship with a new partner who didn't want anything do do with my kids. I didn't want to see the red flags, realistically, looking back. I was suffering with depression which had played a significant role in my life up until this point too. My form of self harm was being with someone who treated me badly *not for the first time*, and distancing myself from my kids (at times) because I felt it was what I deserved.
I took time off from work for every important event (if work allowed), every school assembly or play, every parents evening. Unfortunately because I was depressed from many of these years a lot of the memories are lost or opaque and blurry sadly.
This still upsets me.
Following some pretty crappy choices I made, we all moved in with the toxic functioning alcoholic boyfriend *I know, I know bad move*.
Things were not always awful but they were rarely great either, his moods would change in the blink of an eye from engaged, happy and jovial to sullen. angry and irrational, depending upon how much alcohol he had consumed.
I take full responsibility for the fact that my kids were not as happy as they should have been and there have been lasting effects and resentments that make an appearance every now and then, still to this day. (I have no doubt I will write about this very complicated period in greater detail at another time).
So I finally got my act together and it took a while and some more crappy choices, 6 years after relationship began I finished it. The kids and I had moved into the flat that I still live in now. Things changed dramatically, I decided to change to part time work having had a mental breakdown and giving up my job. *As I said it was a rough few years, and I was struggling with real mental health issues*. So I did more of the drop offs and pick ups, and spent more time with them.
However I could never shake the feeling of being the bad parent,
*truth be told I still have many days like this even now*
The not fun parent since my ex had them every weekend (except when on call) to his credit. The kids always saw me as the serious parent, the disciplinarian even through the crappy years that preceded us living alone. The one who nagged them to brush their teeth, tidy their rooms or do their homework. The one who was asking them what they wanted to do with their lives eventually, and discussed results and teacher comments after parents evening. The parent who pushed for her sons diagnosis of ADHD and eventually ASD too. I guess some of that was the pressure to be better than I had been, to engage to make up for the lost time and memories and to keep my mental health in check by always having something to concentrate on. *hindsight is a beautiful thing!*
My Ex acknowledges that I got what we used to refer to as the 'shit bit', and he had never really had to nag them about bed times or teeth brushing or homework, because they were having fun and so they were more compliant if he ever had to ask them to do something.
As ever things change and once my daughter started secondary school, she would go to her Dad's less and out with her friends or have them at home, from this point our relationship definitely improved. My son however was going through a rough period that lasted some years, the ADHD medication helped but there were many meltdowns that went with every change. From school holiday transitions to the transition of homes when coming back from his Dad's or even going to. It wasn't easy for any of us, and I cannot stress enough how much support I was getting from my Ex, my Dad and family, and some friends too.
In this period there were also some truly great times, real fun and playful times and lots of laughter too.
We have been through another transitional period of late too, my daughter has gone off to university and it is just the boy and I and home now. So he and I are good, we engage with each other on a new level and laugh a lot together, there is still the occasional blowout, and that is to be expected.
On the other hand my daughter and I seem to be going through a rough patch.
I understand that she is an adult and I have given my kids a lot of freedom over their choices from quite a young age, so it hasn't been as hard for me to let go and adjust to the new normal as I thought it would. But we seem to be struggling to engage with each other in this new dynamic. The old resentments are playing a role, and communication is not easy on both our parts. I have no doubt things will settle and we will find a new rhythm. for now we aren't there and as a parent this kills me, as human I get that sometimes we need a little room to grow.
I have as I said had it pretty easy,
Yes it was more on me to catch the weight of the kids care or emotional and often immediate physical needs, and I did many a job just to provide for my kids rather than because I loved it or it was a career choice. And I chosen my kids over my romantic life since ending it with TAE (Toxic Alcoholic Ex) on several occasions. *in all honesty I felt that was the least I owed them even if it wasn't always easy to be alone*
I have many friends who do not have it as easy as I do/did.
They have to sacrifice in so many ways, from financial to physical and emotional. Their whole lives are work and their kids often with little if any support from their family. They often don't get any time where are not in demand in someway, whether it's taking the kids to football or organising lifts so the kids are driven home from school. They don't have ex's that are supportive, in some cases not financially or in being present.
I guess the reason I chose get this out there today is because although we may choose to finish our relationships and often that is the best choice for all involved. No one is prepared for how much will fall on your shoulders, and how long you may end up single.
Some parents (single or otherwise) are true superheroes.
And I am also a believer that it's not a broken home it's just another type of family.
By no means is this meant to be attention seeking or to make anyone pity single parents but maybe it will give a little insight into the way our lives are different to two parent co habiting families, which I know are not all the same and in most cases one parent carries more of the weight than the other too.
Anyway as ever thank you for reading, if there is anything you wish to know or want me to write about drop me a message and I will do my best to answer or do so.
In the meantime try to be your own cheerleader as well as your biggest critic.
Be good to yourselves and each other.