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.
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.
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.