Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Single Parent vs. Only Parent



I was reading a post today on Mom Logic about the term single mom.  The author seemed to think that term was thrown around too loosely and by it being so widely used, the meaning of the term has been diminshed.  In her post, she decided that parents that are raising their kids without a co-parent should begin calling themselves only parents.

I am a widow.  My husband, the father of my children, comitted suicide 8 years ago.  Before you start feeling all kinds of sympathy, let me tell you, my marriage was less than functional.  I left him when I was 4 months pregnant with The Girl.  In the last year of his life, I put him in treatment 5 times.  He relapsed 5 times.  I finally decided I couldn't raise my children in a home filled with his demons.  When The Girl was 6 months old (The Boy was 2), I told him I was filing for divorce.  He was found dead in a hotel room in Colorado 2 weeks later (that's a whole other Oprah).  At no point did I blame myself.  I was VERY angry for a very long time.  I had resolved myself to no longer being married to him.  I never thought for a second I would never see him again.

I have always called myself an only parent.  I have friends that are single parents.  To me, that term means a parent raising children in a home without an adult partner.  Most of my single parent friends have parenting schedules that allow them to be child-free every other weekend.  Some also have one weekday evening and extended time in the summer and over school breaks.  I have never had anything like that.

In addition to not having someone to co-parent with, I don't have family in the area to help.  I truly am on my own.  Over the years, I have developed friendships with other women that don't have support systems.  We have become each other's support systems.  It works, but it's not the same as having actively involved grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

I look at some of the co-parenting arrangements some of my single parent friends have and I can honestly say, I have it good.  BFF is currently going through a VERY nasty divorce.  The man (I use that term loosely) she is divorcing has done everything in his power to drive a wedge between BFF and her oldest boy.  In addition, they are completely unable to communicate (she has a restraining order against him) AND he actively tells their children they don't have to follow her directions or rules.  (The scary thing is the courts are actually going to give him these kids because they don't think it's in their best interest to move up north!  WTF!  That too is a whole other Oprah.)

While I realize that most co-parenting relationships are far more civil than this, it begs the question is it really more difficult to co-parent than it is to be an only parent?  I for one am very glad that I don't have to rely on my children's father for ANYTHING (not that I had a choice).  While I spent years being angry that I was "robbed" of that option (as well as my kids being robbed of knowing their dad), I have come to be grateful of my situation.  While I would love to have a partner in life, living in my home, and acting as a support in raising my kids, I am glad I don't have to "make nice" with someone for the sake of my kids and rely on someone that couldn't hold true to their commitments to me to hold true to their commitments to the most important people in my life.

That said, for all of you that can co-parent amicably - THAT IS AWESOME!  I wish every parent had their child's best interest in mind!  You deserve a HUGE pat on the back!

21 comments:

Cameron said...

Hi Found you over at Batcrap, great blog am now following! Love your little character....I'm from California but my mom is a Minnesota girl through and through!!!
come on by when you have time!
www.conquerthemonkey.com

Mike said...

Yeah it's rough being tied to someone through your child that you no longer want in your life. Like all things whether they are there or not it's a lesson to you child(ren) on how to deal with situations.

Personally too many labels drive me nuts.

Charmaine said...

You're friend needs to email my attorney sister. (Her blog address is in my former post.)

She's scary smart. These child custody battles are getting out of hand. The courts are awarding custody to abusive fathers and punishing women who try to protect their children.

I have a friend who had to give up the home she was raised in, to her x-husband, plus tons of money.

It's a current trend that must be fought or before we know it, we'll all be back in the Middle Ages.

I Wonder Wye said...

I'm so glad you have reached out to find your own support -- it takes a village -- and you pick them so they are probably more functional than relations!! My sister in law, mother in law, and many others on my husband's side were sucicides so I know it's a manic roller-coaster and I am sorry you were taken on that ride -- glad that life is (more) stable...

Lunhatikk said...

I'll take that pat on the back with many thanks :)

I think you're amazing and strong to be capable (choice or not) to raise your children alone. It must be very difficult at times and I think you deserve your own well earned pat on the back.

FeliciaE said...

You are right I think sometimes, when it comes to my oldest daughter, it would have been easier to have been an 'only' parent. While her father is great to her and for her and she loves him to death, it has been beyond hard the past 5 years to deal with him. Thank goodness me and his new wife get along and I NEVER have to talk to him.

I love your post and love your blog so with that being said I am giving you an award, to recieve it come check out my page here:http://livingjustlikegrandmahousewife.blogspot.com/2009/10/wow-another-award.html

blueviolet said...

That was beautifully written and my point of view on the terminology has been altered because of it. I think you're right to make that distinction.

I applaud your strength and determination to do what's right for your children.

Daffy said...

It literally makes me sick to see children used a pawns by a 'parent'. My sister in law does that....

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

You are so strong. My mom raised my brothers and I on her own because our dads were useless; she also had no family around to help, but she did have some great friends. She worked hard, put herself through nursing school and moved on. I wonder if I'd be able to do the same...

Danielle said...

I say this all of the time. It is a double edged sword. I have no drama when it comes to an ex and I don't have to share my daughter or ask permission to make decisions for her. BUT, I also have no help, get no breaks, etc...
I would have it no other way!

One Chic Mommy said...

What an awesome woman you are to be able to make it thru each day! Being an only parent with no help is no easy feat, I know first hand all the struggle's that come with that, my mom raised 3 girls on her own.

Sin Pantalones said...

I left my first husband/son's father while I was pregnant and have not spoken to him since the day I walked out the door. The divorce was done through lawyers. Years later, so was the termination of parental rights. He has never had contact with my son, who is now 27 years old.

I loved being an only parent. I don't regret it for a moment; I think my son's life was much quieter, much less stressful, much less angry than it would have been with his father around. Our financial situation was difficult at times, but I think that had much less of a negative impact on him than years of stress, struggle, anger, and mind games would have.

If I could turn back the clock, I'd have a one-night stand with his father and never even give him my name. ;)

MindyMom said...

I say dump the labels. Everyone's situation is different.

I'm a single parent AND and an only parent but I also have 2 exes. One takes the kids sometimes and the other rarely sees my 4 y/o(like 3 2 hr. visits this year)and has not been involved since before her birth. I also have no relatives around (never have) to help or pick up any slack. I often feel my life would be 10 times easier if my exes were gone since they dont help at all and just create problems and issues that complicate me and my kids' lives.

My point is, we're all mothers and although our situations may be different we are still raising our kids without partners or the other parent and with that comes some common ground.

beeka-beeka said...

In an effort not to ramble and get annoyed I will second what Mindy Mom said.

Great post! Thanks for stopping by my home turf.

SinfulBliss said...

Thank you for posting this! I try so often to explain to some of my single parent friends the difference between their lives and mine and why I call myself an only parent. Most of them just don't understand the difference because they've never had to live it. I just found your blog, so I haven't read everything yet, but so far I'm really liking what I have read.

Danielle said...

I guess I am an only parent. My son has a dad walking around but we don't see or hear from him ever, we do however get a check every month but other then that its just me and my son. I call my self a single parent because of my marital status since I am not married or dating anyone I am single that how I looked at it. Great site just popped over from The Mommy Chronicles

Jacki said...

Here from SITS. Congrats on your day!

I am a single parent, and in some ways, I do have it better, in that I do get a breather every once in a while. Yet, during those breathers, I often get phone calls from my son telling me how miserable he is at his dad's house.

I have an amicable relationship with his father and I want my son to have a loving relationship with him, yet there are times I wish that I could be the only one making the decisions for my son, as I and his father have VERY different sets of values.

divinepainter said...

I'm a single mom of one child. His father and I definitely co-parent amicably. That is not a choice or a one-time event, that is a lifestyle! Best wishes to you and your children. You are a bright star in the blogosphere! I read, with great interest, all parts of your story. It was compelling, raw, honest and very, very moving. Thank you for sharing the experience with your readers. Visiting from SITS.

Dawn said...

I, too, am a single parent. I am thankful for the cordial relationship my ex and I have. I felt like an ONLY parent while we were married... him having the boys on his own has DEF opened his eyes to everything he DIDN'T do and thankfully he has stepped up.

My heart goes out to all of you without family around to help.

Mommy Lisa said...

I am VERY lucky that, for the MOST part, my hubby and his ex and her new hubby and I have been able to co-parent. I can't imagine one because sometimes FOUR is not enough to get it all done. Bravo to you and your support system you created.

Barb said...

You're story is amazing and you're incredibly brave and strong and courageous. I am a single mother by choice and I had my children by anonymous donor, so I too am an only parent who rarely gets any breaks. But this is a life I chose. You and I may not have similar histories, but I'm sure the logistics of our lives are similar. Thank you for sharing your amazing and brave story!

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