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Prepare Yourselves for a Rant

 

Prepare For A Rant!Let me just preface this post by saying: this post is not directed at anyone in particular. I am just in a ranty mood.
I have posted a fair bit lately about being a single parent. I even made a post on my blog for the local paper about single parents. And i was interviewed (briefly) on LBC last week about the stigma of being a single parent.
Guess what, I’m a single parent. The clue is in the name, people. I write about being a single parent. And sometimes, when it’s in the news, and the government are making legislation that is seemingly designed to kill us off, I get ranty and cross and I pull out my soap box and blog about it.
Generally when I do this, I get:
  • Supportive comments from my friends, other single mothers, or people in general who have read my blog and respect what I am doing
  • Silence from people who don’t give a shit either way – I respect that silence more than you realise, oh quiet ones
  • Non-single parents complaining that I shouldn’t make out that they have it so easy. Or that having a partner doesn’t mean white picket fences and happily ever after. Or whatever else that loosely translated means: shut up, I have a hard time too and I don’t want to hear about your hard time because it detracts from my pity party.
Guess which one I’ll be ranting about today.
When I say that I, or people like me, have a hard time I am not saying that other people have it easy. I am not saying that my situation is any worse than anyone else’s. I can’t comment on your life; I have never lived it. And as Jeanette Winterson so aptly put it: we are all convinced our own situation is the worst, and I am no exception (I’m paraphrasing; I read it a long time ago, but you get my meaning).
I can’t write a blog post about how hard it is to be part of a two-parent family. I can’t blog about how difficult it is when your husband just doesn’t appreciate everything you do around the home. I can’t blog about how unfair it is that you don’t get help with your nursery bill. I have no idea about that side of life. i have been a single parent since my daughter was 3 weeks old.
I can only write what I know, and that is that being a single parent is difficult, and we get a lot of stick from both government and media, who seem to assume we are all feckless ne’erdowells who have deliberately gotten ourselves pregnant so as to gain housing/benefits/get out of work/whatever else. This is what makes me angry; this is what I am passionate about; this is what I write about.
If you feel that two-parent families are not well represented in the media, do what I’m doing – set up a blog, and write your point of view on the matter.
My sister has just had a baby. The other day she looked at me and said, very matter-of-factly, with no hint of being patronising or talking down to me, “I have no idea how you do this on your own.”
I have to say, I have no idea either. When you write it down on paper, it’s a bit horrific. Especially if you know anything about my past, or the story of how I came to be a single parent in the first place. But I don’t want admiration or gasping applause. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes want a little recognition for how hard things can be from time to time, but I am also aware that for every negative to my situation, there is a glaring positive. The most notable has to be that I am no longer obliged to tolerate the horrendous relationship whose only good point was my daughter.
I am free, and I will take a million nights of being alone with a screaming, teething toddler and Baby Jake, over a single second in that position again. ¬†Although that could be interpreted as seeing a silver lining around a rather large cloud, I see it as a massive positive in my life. There are the smaller things as well: I don’t have to take anyone else’s opinion or ideas into account. I am free to have my daughter share my bed, breastfeed as long as we both want, wear my choice of clothes, learn my choice of values and ideas. I answer to nobody. When she cries, I don’t sit on the sofa arguing with someone as to whether it would constitute spoiling her to go and pick her up; I just go and do it. I know several people who do not have these particular luxuries, and I am grateful for them. I also know people who are struggling to care for children whilst coping with an abusive relationship, and I know for damn sure I am more lucky than those people. I count my blessings every single day.
BUT it does make me angry when I write these posts, and at least one parent in a relationship pipes up that they struggle financially also, or their life is not all roses, they can’t afford this or that, or single parents get more help from extended family (I can assure you, I don’t).
When I was debating whether to go back to work or stay home to care for S until she was 5, I knew I was lucky to have that option: I am entitled to claim benefits until that point, if I so wish. I found it insulting though, to find couples telling me that I “should” go back to work because they had to work, because they couldn’t afford for one of them to stay home and look after their child. It was fairly clear to me that what they actually meant was “if we wish to maintain our current standard of living, we both need to work. We don’t want to get rid of our second car/give up our annual 2 week holiday/stop buying our clothes from Next, so we both have to work.” What if, whether you worked or not, you couldn’t afford even one car, you had no chance of a holiday, you couldn’t afford to even peek your head around the door of Next? It’s a matter of perspective, and priorities.
In a way, it’s nice that not everyone has to deal with problems on such a basic level as “I think I’m going to have to call a food bank because there is nothing in the cupboard.” I’m glad not everyone has this.
I’m glad not everyone lives in a block of flats whose stairs are regularly awash with piss that may or may not be human, dog shit, beer cans and other “paraphernalia.”
I’m glad not everyone has had to spend an entire calendar year trying to get a roof that leaked directly into their child’s bedroom repaired.
I’m glad that not everyone knows the meaning of the phrase “it’s not consent if she’s afraid to say no” in the way that I do.
There are some of my personal experiences that I would not wish on my worst enemy; I am glad you have no idea how this feels. I am glad your biggest problem is that your husband wasn’t home in time for bed time stories this evening.
But please, for goodness’ sake, when you’re up there on your high horse, show some compassion and understanding for those people who would love to have your problems in exchange for their own.

Vicky is a mother, a blogger, a podcaster and a social media trainer. She writes about life as a single mother, parenting and lifestyle type things.

16 Comments
  • afra willmore

      REPLY

    Whenever I feel my life is Cr*p I remember I am not the only one and indeed many people have it much much worse.. A very ranty but reasonable post to remind us that people have problems and feelings we simply cannot comprehend no matter how similar we feel our problems are. And no, I have no idea how you do it alone either. Hats off to you.

  • Mary Key

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    Hear hear! People are all too quick to demand being the centre of attention and damn single parents! What happened to walking a mile in someone else's shoes before you judge?

  • mother.wife.me

      REPLY

    I have nothing but respect and admiration for single mothers. Yes, we all have our own set off issues, but being a single parent is darned hard work from what I know and see from friends who are single parents. #RantyFriday

  • Gailann Houston

      REPLY

    Great rant, what I find amusing is when my friends are being disrespectful about single mothers on benefits and then turn to me and say, "Not you though you're situation is different." Like they know what every other single parent has been through! @fudgyann

  • Mummy Barrow

      REPLY

    Yep. So with you on this. We beat up single mums whilst allowing fat cats in industry to get fatter and fatter and find ways to avoid paying tax. whilst bringing in more and more cuts to those that need it most. <br /><br />Great rant

  • Erica Price

      REPLY

    I am in awe of single parents. Most I know try really hard and try to make up for being the only parent by doing twice the job. Obviously, we all like a winge occasionally and I might feel that I do the bulk of the childcare,but my husband does do some of it and is on hand to pick up the pieces if say, I am ill or I am out with friends or something. The thought of taking on the whole

  • Jaime Oliver

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    I have lived as a single parent for years with my daughter and lived in a refuge for a long time and it was hard work. Now i am married there are still very hard times financially and at time emotionally. I think what ever life chucks at you there is going to be shit, you are obviously dealing with it and i admire you honey your strength of character is awesome my lovely x

  • Victoria Welton

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    I am knowing EXACTLY where you are coming from with this post having been a single Mum from the time Grace was 3 months until she was 4 years old. In some ways it is easier having another parent but there are times when it is better on your own. Like you the only good thing to come out of the relationship with my ex was my daughter and I HATE how the media tar you with the brush of scrounger not

  • Jenny (Cheetahs In My Shoes)

      REPLY

    Everyone has their own story and every one of us feels the need to vent it every now and again. What we shouldn&#39;t do is judge anyone for doing so when you don&#39;t know the background, what&#39;s triggered the vent and all the other &#39;stuff&#39; that life brings. Anyone who has kids who says it&#39;s easy is lying. Great rant x

  • Donna@MummyCentral

      REPLY

    I have no idea how you do it on your own. Screw other people and their pity party. Every time my husband goes away for work, I realise how much I take for granted being able to go to the shops after the kids have gone to bed, being able to have someone else take care of the children when I&#39;m feeling sick/tired/stressed. Having a second person there is a security blanket so many of us enjoy.

  • Wicked World of Lucas

      REPLY

    I read this with interest. When I started blogging my main rule has always been &quot;Don&#39;t Judge&quot; which is why I tend to stick to comic, light hearted pieces. I think everyone should read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The message is always clear; stand in someone else&#39;s shoes to see what their life is like. Chin up hun - fab post and I truly hope things work out for you

  • Jayne

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    I wish people could be a bit more empathetic and realise that just because one person is talking about how their situation isn&#39;t ideal, it doesn&#39;t mean that they&#39;re detracting from your own situation in anyway. Life is not a competition and if we could all just be a bit more supportive of others, regardless of either set of circumstances, the world would be a much nicer place.

  • Kriss MacDonald

      REPLY

    When I moved to the US last year I spent nearly 10 months suddenly as a &#39;single mother&#39; of twins as it took my husband 10 months to get his greencard. During this time I started writing to friends who were single parents and telling them I finally appreciated and admired how they had been coping and managing on their own - and to give me some tips. Yes my circumstances were different but

  • Becky Willoughby

      REPLY

    I agree that us single mums tend to get tarred with the scrounger label and it gets me! I&#39;ve been on my own since daughter was rising 6 and son 2 3/4. Life as a couple had its problems but on my own its all down to me. I am lucky to have finally found a part time low paid job that fits in with my kids needs. As single parents lots of doors are closed to us as we haven&#39;t got the backup of

  • Looking for Blue Sky

      REPLY

    I wish there was more compassion and less judgement in every walk of life x Looking for Blue Sky recently posted...Reasons to be cheerful 13.11.14My Profile

  • Adventures of a Novice Mum

      REPLY

    An insightful read. I must say that since becoming a mum, I have wondered many times how single parents 'do it'. You are right, we mainly can really only know our problems and can only write from our point of view. It's definitely important to take care not to judge others because we haven't walked in their shoes and really we couldn't; each one must walk in his / her shoes and hopefully empathise with others. All the very best as you walk through this path of single motherhood. Adventures of a Novice Mum recently posted...My Precious Sparkle is 11 months old?My Profile

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