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Institutionalised going solo

by admin

I’ve always been one to do things my way. Not in an “I’m better than you” kinda way, just that I like to think that “there’s nothing I can’t do” kind of way.

This has proved to be a real benefit now that I’m running as a solo Dad, although I’m the first to admit that I could never be a teacher, child care worker or cleaner of any kind. I really do tip my hat to you guys, that shit is some seriously hard yakka; all day every day – you deserve to be paid a mint. Us parents are lucky, we get to handball the kids off to school most days and, if we do it right (not me), can get them to do a fair chunk of the cleaning when they get home. 😂

I’m more than happy to step outside the antiquated notion of yesteryear’s fatherhood and have a crack at things like sewing, ironing (haha, that’s a load of shit tbh), cooking – which Ive always loved, hairstyling, tea parties, go fish and numerous other things that having children demands of parents.

In fact, I really do believe I enjoy all of this. Which is lucky I suppose, as life would be fucking horrible if I didn’t get some sense of achievement from conquering things like a machine. 😉

But what I am finding, is that for all this self assurance, effort and belief, there is a deeper issue that grows by the day.

I’m becoming institutionalised in my solo role as caregiver and parent.

I find it difficult to ask for help with anything and will quite often forge ahead with the daily grind, even when on the brink of meltdown, which usually means the whole family suffers as an aside. Even if I do accept some help in any way shape or form, I feel decidedly uncomfortable and somewhat embarrassed in the fact. I will even default to a “nah it’s all good” when offers to take the kids for a few hours present themselves so I can have a break. I struggle asking others if my kids can come over for a visit (I hate the word “playdate”), internally stewing, wondering if they think I’m trying to dump them on them; or that the kids will think I don’t want them here.

Stupid huh.
Or maybe not.

Maybe due to the circumstances, I feel that if I don’t do everything myself, I am somehow failing as a parent, that I am not up to the task of bringing up the monkeys on my own. Maybe I feel like I am letting Renee down as an inept father to our children. Maybe I’m not as invincible as I think, talk and act.

It doesn’t matter really; the reasoning that is. I will always be like this. Nature or nurture, circumstance or stereotype, it’s the way I’m now put together.

Which in itself is not an affliction isolated to the realm of solo parents, I totally get that this is pretty common amongst all parent situations. After all, we’re all really just winging it.

But what makes it an insidious partner to the solo parent is that there is no-one there in those little moments of conquest when you need to hear “nice work cleaning the house”, “great dinner tonight”, “wow – you’ve done the washing”, “awesome work just getting out of bed today” or “well done not murdering the kids this week”.

And the fallout from this lack of spousal back patting, is that you begin to wonder if you are actually doing this parent thing right. With no-one to confirm, or even acknowledge, your decisions and deeds in daily family life, you start to question your aptitude and effort. You begin to think maybe…. (see above list of maybes)

So what do you do?

You close ranks and push harder. You got this. She’ll be right. We’ll get there. No probs. I can do it. I don’t need any help. I’m their parent.

Catch 22.

Now I’m not here to provide a solution I’m afraid, so if you’ve read this far because you’ve identified, fingers crossed in hope of some Confucius style nuggets of wisdom, then I apologise. Zilch of that shit en route.

I’m merely here to expose this neglected reality of solo parenting. Particularly for solo Dad’s. And I hope that anyone out there that does identify with any of this article can breathe a sigh of relief. (main purpose right there folks)

You are not alone and yes, you are fucking killing it. You are a rockstar parent. (unless you’re on crack, then – no, you aren’t doing the best job and should probably have a chat to DHS).

I’m not going to tell you to start asking for help with the dishes every night, or dumping your kids 7 days a week on family and friends. I’m not going to urge you to reach out for help to mop the floors so you can have a beer and a nap on the couch at 130pm (although that does sounds great!). I’m not encouraging anyone to DO anything different at all really. I can’t as I’d be a little hypocritical in doing so 🤣.

All I want is for you to KNOW that you are doing everything as right as you know how to do it – and that is bloody awesome. Well done getting up, making food, being nice to people, not committing murder, you know – all that family life stuff.

You. Are. A. Good. Parent.

And for fucks sake. Don’t try to be a hero every time. No-one can do this completely on their own. Even if it is demoralising, ask for a hand before you implode once in a while.

Go ahead and be the leader of your tribe, but just remember it still takes a tribe to raise a family.

✌️

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23 comments

Anonymous February 11, 2018 - 10:11 pm

Love this!!!!! And even though I’ve got my partner I still feel the same way – I can’t ask for help, my reasoning is I gave birth to my kids so they are my responsibility!!!
However – you know your doing the right thing because you’ve got well respected, behaved kids who have goals and achievements in life, who are also well fed and have a roof over their head

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Just A Dad February 11, 2018 - 10:34 pm

Precisely!

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Anonymous February 11, 2018 - 10:48 pm

Like I tell my kids, if you have a roof over your head, food in your tummy and clothes on your back, you’re doing a lot better than some so consider yourself lucky.
For me, that parent doubt comes from not wanting to fuck your children up as you raise them. I do worry about that and we all question if we’re parenting right at times. Especially when the kids are having a bad day and act like little demons
One thing I keep reminding myself is that, instead of worrying about them growing into good adults, take notice that they’re already good kids and the best I can do isn’t to bloody bad! They’re kind, looked after, loved, protected, funny, smart, feral and comfortable to express all emotions good and not so good, so that’s already a plus to me
I’m sure you’re doing a great job!

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Just A Dad February 11, 2018 - 10:59 pm

It certainly sounds like you are Chels!

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Anonymous February 11, 2018 - 11:41 pm

Wow i needed to hear that i have no tribe and find asking for help impossible even after suffering a heart attack 6 weeks ago.

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Just A Dad February 11, 2018 - 11:44 pm

I’m so sorry to hear of your predicament Karen 🙁 is there literally no one that you can call on for a bit of help?

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Anonymous February 12, 2018 - 12:07 am

My ex has helped. Proud to say kids especially my son have stepped up. We are managing our way. And the light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. Thanks

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Anonymous February 11, 2018 - 11:56 pm

Great honest words. Yes life is like that with a partner too and sometimes (or a lot of the time) you do all these things everday and don’t feel appreciated for it. You are doing an awesome job and hats off to you!

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Anonymous February 12, 2018 - 12:12 am

Seriously mate, as a newish parent with a partner , I and I’m sure Rach feels the same way ..
We do just wing it , and getting better at asking for help to get some time out has helped beyond words ..

I can’t even think how you’ve come this far already ..
you are killin it

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Anonymous February 12, 2018 - 12:29 am

Oh I’m hearing you!

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Anonymous February 12, 2018 - 2:23 am

This. Thank you. As a fellow widowed parent, there is so much here that’s speaks to me. Even down to the choice of words – spot on. Thanks Chris x

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Anonymous February 12, 2018 - 7:10 am

I am only 2.5 years into my parenting career and very much identify with all those feelings too – feeling like you can and should be able to do it all yourself, and definitely going as far as to nearly break yourself trying, rather than to simply accept offers of help.
It’s a definite learning curve of realizing just how OCD I can be, and learning how to release that!
I am slowly improving and each time I say yes to help, a tiny little bit of me is broken down and realizes that not only is it ok to say yes, but that it’s actually awesome to say yes. Everyone is happy – kids have a good time and I am refreshed and a better Mum for them.

So, I hope for you, that in time, each little favour you allow someone to do for you, ever so slowly you start to accept it’s ok, and not any reflection on anything except the person’s kindness and fondness of you and your kids

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Anonymous February 12, 2018 - 8:14 am

Nailed it 👊🏻 #accepthelp

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Anonymous February 12, 2018 - 8:52 am

So true. Asking for support is a humbling , confronting and very difficult thing to do. Maybe it could be seen as inviting others to provide support/ caring rather than ” giving help” which may imply judgement. ( in our heads) .. Just my perspective as a long term “resister of asking for help”. Must be genetic or a well learned behaviour. I think I’ve been told often enough: ” don’t be a martyr” but that’s what we can become ….. and then resentful into the bargain. Not a nice place to be!! I now try to see that allowing others to support me/ us , is a gift they want to give – and I/ we benefit too- we stay sane!
Here ends the lesson!!

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Anonymous February 12, 2018 - 9:19 am

Love your writing, Chris, but this one really struck a chord…as time has passed I am getting less good at asking for help, and then only when absolutely needed. The amount of times I have heard ‘you’re too hard in yourself’ are to many to mention.

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Just A Dad February 12, 2018 - 10:00 am

Exactly how I feel Trine… And it’s hard to reverse 🙁

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Anonymous February 12, 2018 - 11:33 am

Brilliantly written Chris. Exactly spot on!

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Anonymous February 12, 2018 - 1:26 pm

Maybe with could create a ‘Solo Parents Award night’.
I think it should be a quarterly event – perhaps staged at the precise ending of each school holiday season.
And there would be wine…… an abundance of wine.

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Just A Dad February 12, 2018 - 9:06 pm

Sounds great! I’m in 🙂

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Anonymous February 12, 2018 - 8:58 pm

Chris it took a town to help me raise mine…kids out and about home in time to eat some days….particularly Jonny when we were in town. I think you are doing great❤

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Anonymous February 13, 2018 - 10:29 am

This is exactly the conversation I had with my bestie today – Carlie Renee! It’s the little things like thanks for bringing in the washing or babe, your butting head with said child – I’ll put her to bed and you go have a shower!
This and the 9pm loneliness are killers for me at the moment! But I’m not the only one on solo parent train! Day by day guys!

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Just A Dad February 13, 2018 - 10:31 am

we should start an “after 9 solo parent” page / whatsapp / messenger group 😉

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Anonymous February 13, 2018 - 10:34 am

Just A Dad I’m in!

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