The phrase “I don’t know how they do it” gets tossed around a lot these days; we apply it to pastry chefs in fancy restaurants, to amazing technological developments, to certain politicians who somehow manage to sleep at night…. Usually there’s no essential mystery – pastry chefs have years of training; technology is an additive process building on what came before; certain politicians simply have no morals.
However, there’s a group I’d like to pay tribute to this Mothers’ Day because I honestly don’t understand how they do it. That group is all single parents.
As a married father of two little girls, I’m somewhat hesitant to offer an article on the subject. What do I know about single parenting? Well, quite literally, nothing. I wouldn’t ever suggest otherwise. As such, this article is written less for single mothers and more for couples with kids, who I urge this Mothers’ Day to consider what a difficult journey single parenting must be. It quite literally seems impossible to me, and I have nothing but respect for those who somehow manage it.
The single parents I know work full-time. They juggle their work & family lives whilst maintaining a social life which in most cases seems more vibrant than those of couples. There’s no way this can be easy, but they somehow make it appear that way.
If the baby wakes up in the night, there’s no shaking their partner awake to say “your turn”. It’s always their turn. And they do it. Every single night.
If the baby gets sick, they’ll just have to go to work the next day having had a fraction the amount of sleep they really need, or they’ll stay at home and care for their kids, all the while dreading whatever dramas await them upon their return to work.
When they inevitably get sick themselves, everything still has to be done same as always – just with an extra 20-80% difficulty level. Again, they simply bear up and get it done like the true champions they are.
I’m sure many of them, at one point or another, feel a good whack of loneliness and sadness too, the absence of which most of us may take completely for granted.
But overshadowing all these hurdles is the biggest one of all: the self-doubt, the worry that they’re not doing a good enough job, the expectation they’re spending too much time away from their child to be a good parent. We all have moments of parental self-doubt, however I suspect single parents carry a considerably heavier burden. They need to adopt multiple roles – nurturer and provider, mother and father.
And yet, despite what seem to me to be endless challenges, they actually seem to pull it off.
In fact they’re not just pulling it off, they’re doing a magnificent job. I’d go so far as to say we couples could learn a thing or two from them. Imagine how much better parents we’d be if we stopped indulging ourselves and just got things done, or if we actually asked for help when we needed it. Imagine the example of resilience, perseverance and brilliance we could set for our kids.
So, this Mothers’ Day… I just want to tell the single mums out there that I think you’re amazing. Amazing. I honestly don’t know how you do it. However you’re doing it, keep it up. You’re awesome and an inspiration. Know that all of us, including your kids who will grow up and know you were bloody fabulous, are rooting for you. From me to you, Happy Mother’s Day.
Single mums share how they celebrate mother’s day, if someone helps them organise a present and how they make the day special