Being a single parent is hard work.
Now, this missive is not a complaint but rather a fist raised in solidarity to all the other single parents out there, doing it all alone and weary to the bone.
We are on from sun up to sun down and on call 24 hours a day. Some of us don’t even have a supportive co-parent and the duties of parenting fall solely on our shoulders. There is no time to be sick, or tired and no matter how sick and tired we may get, there is still work to be done, food to be made, homework to complete and a household to manage.
As a child, I loved watching professional wrestling with my dad. I particularly liked the scenarios where teams would face off and when one would get beat up or just tired, he could reach over and slap hands with his partner who would then jump in the ring and often finish the fight.
Single parents don’t have that.
There is no tapping out or tag teaming. Whatever fight or battle is raging in our home is ours alone. There is no easily available listening ear, someone to have your back or another who can offer to take it from here.
Most of us don’t ever complain about it because in one way or another, this is the path we chose. Whether we became single after divorce or chose to walk this path alone from the beginning, and we take ownership for the choices we made that led us here.
We are the parents who are running into parent-teacher conferences slightly out of breath because we had to sprint into the building to be on time. When we leave your class, we will rush to the next meeting and afterward, we will take our little ones out to celebrate.
Even though there is still a mountain of laundry to do, a house to be cleaned, too much month and not enough money, we will sit with our children and enjoy their delight. We are the parents whose bellies get full when our children eat.
We are the parents who juggle math books and cooking utensils, healthy eating and a budget, work and play—and we often fall into bed at night so tired we can’t fall asleep. Yet, with the help of good coffee, an iron will and the commitment to being fully present in today, we make it through.
We are not merely survivors. We are thrivers.
We are fueled by fierce love, bedtime kisses and morning giggles. This one is for you, deep-loving single parents. Although you often feel alone, there are many of us just like you, keeping the faith and letting our light shine. We are weary to the bone and often feel the weight of the world might crush us, but it doesn’t.
Here’s to you, courageous parent who manages to juggle it all and keep your smile. Here’s to you, single dad who has learned to braid and single mom who coaches your son’s flag football team. Here’s to each of you who have never (and will never) give up. You are an all day, every day superhero and some of the strongest people alive.
One day, when our kids are grown and gone, we will look back and wonder how we managed it all. For now, we can rest solidly in the knowledge that we not only did our best but we did what was necessary. When others stepped out, we stepped up and have continued to do so since.
So, here’s to you, weary, wonderful warrior. May the love you have sustain you.
Author: Lisa Vallejos, PhD
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: simpleinsomnia/Flickr & Artwork: Author’s Own