A letter to us all

30 Jan

An icon illustrating a parent and child

To everyone who knows or is a single parent,

There are people I’ve wanted to say this to for a long time. I think, though, that more than just the people I’ve come across need to hear it. (And Thanksgiving will be a lot more comfortable if I don’t call specific people out.

Being a single parent is hard. And, yes, I know… All parenthood is hard. I’m not disagreeing with that. But until you’ve done it, until you have been there, you don’t understand the loneliness. You don’t understand the fear. You don’t understand the feeling of failure. You don’t understand the frustration.

And you certainly don’t understand what it takes to keep my mouth shut every time someone says, “well, you made that choice.” Really? You think I set out for this? You think I had the motto single parenthood, here I come? WHAT?????

Yes. I made a choice to have sex. I made a choice to do that with someone I was not married to. I know with 100% certainty, many of the people who look down on me made that exact same choice. I also made the choice to be on a birth control pill. It’s not always as effective as you think it will be.

I made a choice to not get married to my son’s father. I made a choice to say “no” when he asked me to marry him. I have never regretted that choice. It was the best choice for all three of us. That choice allows me to be a better mother, allows him to be a better father, and allows my child to have two happy parents. So, I suppose, technically, I did make that choice.

I never wanted to put my quest for Mr. Right on hold. But, I did, because I had very limited days to date anyone. Plus, it was hard for some guys to understand that I am a package deal and they had a LOT to prove to earn the right to be a part of my son’s life. (In fact, only my husband ever earned that.)

I never wanted to be the only one to see an ultrasound for the first time. I had no one to look at and smile the first time I saw my little boy’s face. I didn’t want to have no hand to hold while we were waiting for news from the doctor. I did not want to be the only one to witness my son’s first steps, or hear his first words. I didn’t want to be the only one to figure out a daily routine and put that routine into action each day. I didn’t want to go Christmas or birthday shopping by myself. I didn’t want to tuck him in each night alone. I didn’t want to go to bed alone. I didn’t want to cry by myself when he was broken hearted. I didn’t want to have to explain to him why his mommy and daddy don’t live in the same house. I didn’t want him to have two Christmases and two birthdays and two beds. I didn’t want him to have two lives. I wouldn’t have chosen that for him.

My child’s life is not a mistake. He is a huge blessing that I was not expecting. He was the very best of surprises! His love made me a better person. He made me love myself. He gave me a reason to keep going. He gave me strength and determination. At a time when I didn’t have it in myself to make the right choices for my life, he gave me a reason to do that. I have often said, in so many ways, he saved my life.

I do believe that we share a connection we never would have had if our situation had been different. He loves to take care of me. He prays for me. He buys me flowers. He takes me on dates. We still, very much, enjoy time when it’s just the two of us. And there are countless memories I will forever cherish from that time.

But, please understand, most of us didn’t choose to be single parents. Most of us never planned for it or expected it. And it brings with it a mountain of feelings we could never have braced ourselves for. A mountain of feelings only single parents will ever completely understand.

If you are a single parent, I know. I know the tears and the joys. I know the lonely days and excruciating nights. I know. You are not alone. In fact, if you happen to need someone to talk to, I will be glad to be that person.

If you know a single parent, call them. Go see them. Wrap your arms around them. Listen when they talk. Offer to babysit so they can have a minute to themselves. Reassure them that they are not alone. Love them. But also, listen when they reassure you that they’ve got this. They don’t need your pity… They need your support.

And NEVER imply that you are somehow better than them or that they don’t deserve your understanding because of the “choices they made.”

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3 Responses to “A letter to us all”

  1. Anna Triplett January 31, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    Very well said. Let me also point out, however, that you were NEVER one of those single parents, that I believe, give it a stigma. You NEVER used it as an excuse or a way to get pity from anyone. You never expected to get ANYTHING for free because of it. You were never the “poor me” “how did this happen to me” type. YOU are the reason I have more compassion for single parents. Because I watched you take every challenge with your head up and fight your way through anything and everything that came your way without pretending like you were a victim of something. You are what every single parent needs to be. šŸ™‚

    • butterflywritersm January 31, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      Wow! I don’t even know how to say thank you for that. Perhaps the best compliment I’ve ever been given!

  2. Kristi Smith February 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    Loved the post and loved Anna’s comment! Having been a single parent for well over 10 years (actually basically was longer before the divorcre). The only thing, and this is my opinion that I think is worse than having children out of wedlock is being married to who you thought was suppose to be your life long partner/soulmate then them up and leaving you and suddenly wham you’re a single parent to two little boys….well to any child but as you can tell, speaking of my own experience! You were a wonderful single parent for the few years you had to do it!

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