Friday, 29 April 2016
On Single Parenthood, Sickness Bugs + Me Time
Generally I'm a pretty upbeat person. I don't see the point in moaning for the sake of it; having a negative attitude won't change things. I prefer to look for the good in people and situations, even if that makes me look a bit daft or naive.
But sometimes things get the better of you.
I've been a single mum for eighteen months. My kiddos are amazing but there's no denying it's hard being their sole carer sometimes; I'm entirely responsible for their wellbeing and there's no respite EVER. I have to admit I'm pretty lucky really, as the girls are good as gold 80% of the time but sometimes, for whatever reason, I find my stress levels close to those of 2007 Britney and it's then that I would just love for there to be someone to share the responsibility of parenthood with so that I can take five and pour myself a laaaaarge gin and tonic.
As a single parent it's down to you to bring the money in, make sure all the bills are paid, fill the fridge with food and ensure that the car is roadworthy and has petrol in it. You are the only person that will clean and tidy the house and do the laundry. You have to do all the school runs and Rainbows runs and birthday party runs (good god, we've had a lot of those recently!). But the hardest thing about doing all this on your own, as I found out last week, is that there is no one to help you when you're poorly.
I hate asking for help. I really do. I don't like to put people on the spot and would hate to make someone feel awkward if they had to say no. It might sound daft but asking for help also makes me feel like I'm incapable and that I've failed.
My parents live 45 miles away and, although they would drop everything to come and help me if I needed them to, I feel awful asking them - especially in situations like last week when it was pretty much just because I wanted my mum to hold my hair back for me while I was being sick ;)
So last week, while I felt like crap, I did what single parents all over the country do and got on with stuff by myself. I didn't do any housework or laundry and missed a couple of work deadlines. But I cracked on with the school runs and mealtimes and bath and bedtimes and, when I was on my own, I put my sexy pink towelling dressing gown on and binge watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt from the sofa with a sick bucket at my feet. I felt very sorry for myself indeed (although possibly even more sorry for my poor children, who had a thoroughly miserable and grumpy mum for a few days).
Being unwell by yourself is one thing, but being unwell, on your own and having to force yourself to get on with things for the sake of your kids is another. I only had a little sickness bug, but everything mounting up while I was out of action is what tipped me over the edge. It took me forever to catch up with the backlog of work/housework/laundry and for the first time in a long time I found myself in a real downer.
I love my children more than anything in the world. I am so lucky to have them, and I love our little unit. I'm not bothered about having a social life that doesn't involve them. I'm not the type of person that wants to spend every weekend in the pub (once in a while wouldn't go amiss though ;)). I see plenty of my friends - just in a child friendly capacity where the grown ups and littlies all hang out together. Admittedly sometimes I daydream about spending a night in a hotel room all by myself - with a huge comfy bed and squishy pillows and black out blinds - so that I can catch up on some much needed sleep but I don't think that's a single parent thing!
But after my lurg and the stress of having to catch up with everything I found myself really craving some me time. Just like asking for help, admitting that I need a little time by myself is not something I'm comfortable with plus, generally, if I ever DO get some time by myself, five minutes in and I start pining for my two little ratbags.
Anyhoo I digress.
So we have established that it's not often I get time to myself but, lo and behold, on Tuesday afternoon I found myself footloose and fancy free, and wandering round Brick Lane with Ruth.
We did some street art spotting.
We went vintage shopping.
We drank beer. We ate curry.
We were only there for a few hours and were on our respective trains home by 9pm, but it was the best evening I've had in a long time.
Sometimes all you need is a little bit of time out - to regroup, hang out with friends and do something just for you. Just like sometimes you need to ask your family or a friend for a little bit of help.
I think this past week I've finally accepted that there's nothing wrong with either. Which is why I thought I'd treat you all to these slightly garbled, sleep deprived, post-lurg ramblings. A mother's work is utterly relentless - and its the same for us all; single, married, working, stay at home. I'm not a bad mum for needing a little me time. And if you've been craving some too, neither are you.
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