Single parents who have sole custody, possibly get the rawest deal. You are the only bread-winner, you are the primary carer, you are the chief housekeeper, the household accountant and somehow, you need to keep your head together and your chin up. There’s rarely a day to have a social life outside the life of your children, and there is absolutely no time to find a new chance in love. But then there are other things that complicate the scenario.
You split with your ex for a reason – somewhere along the line, your trust was compromised. For me, it was the unfathomable lies and unfulfilled promises that made me realise that I couldn’t trust him anymore. There were other trust issues that I won’t go into, but if there isn’t ‘trust’, there isn’t a relationship. And it’s hard to find the trust again in a relationship. You become cynical of people’s intentions (or lack of intentions) because you open up your heart to anyone who will listen, because you don’t have anyone on your side anymore. You are your right, left, good, bad and indifferent sides all in one. Who do you turn to to confide in?
Some have their parents, a sibling or a best friend. But even those people turn on you…. they freely offer you their judgment calls, but ultimately, as a single parent, you are the chief decision maker. You are the one who has to make the decision to buy the car, choose a home for your children, choose which school they go to. You want to confide in someone to feel that you are making the right decision, but you find it hard to confide when everyone around you is batting you down with their judgment calls. So you stop doing it, because you feel that you’re doing nothing right by yourself or your kids, because no one is accepting what you want to do. Some feel it’s daunting, other’s feel it’s liberating. And once you have that freedom in being the chief decision maker, it’s very hard to hand it over or share the load with someone else again, because you’ve lost all sense in trust.
But sometimes it’s all too overwhelming, and you want to depend on someone. You want to be hugged, you want to have some attention, you want to be treated as a person – not a workhorse, disciplinarian, provider or care-giver. You need to be looked after to, and essentially be given a break. But everyone else is busy in their lives, and you are forgotten.
Every now and again, a spark of help arrives on your doorstep. Someone of family closeness, with a public reputation of being a leader in their field, takes a stand and offers you their help in a professional capacity to help you move on. Someone who you’ve always leant on as caring, older, wiser uncle figure who you could tell many things that you wouldn’t tell your parents, and know that your secret was safe with them. You feel, at last you have a break. Someone is listening, someone of importance who could help sway things your way. You tell them your story, open up, start to trust again… and they turn their back on you, explaining that its not really their field of expertise so they really can’t help.
As a single parent, do you have to guard yourself from gullibility? Keep your cards close to your chest and remember that the only person in the world who actually cares for you is ‘you?’ Do you protect your children from being hurt emotionally from those who pretend to care, because when you really need help, no one is there, so you teach them that they have to rely on themselves and no one else. It’s cynical, hurtful, trying and exhausting, because not even the legal system, the education system and the government can be trusted to give you the help you desperately need.
So for all those who know a single mum or dad who’s doing it all on their own (no financial help from the children’s other parent, no help from immediate family, no help from the government), spare a thought for them and how difficult it is for them to trust again.