Hi, my name is Laila and I am a Single Parent and I am here to tell you a happier and hopefully a more relatable story about Single parenting.
Listen, I can still remember the moment, the time, and the date on which my marriage came to a screeching halt, and what I can remember, in even more excruciating detail, is exactly how it made me feel.
To not make reading this a trauma-trigger, I am going to liken my experience to a full meal because most of us have some sort of relationship with food and are familiar with the general concept of a meal.
For starters, there was a cauldron full of deliciously heartbreaking dread that had an inexplicable flavour of sadness. This meal was served with a side of confusion, with the topper being the feeling that I was walking in the opposite direction, completely exposed to all the debris that was viciously hurtling itself toward me.
And if you think the starters were a bit heavy, wait until you see what I had for the main course.
It was nothing less than a 1000 pound Tyson punch, and to make it even more painful, it was served slowly, drop by drop, as I sat pointlessly on the black couch that ‘we’ had picked up together in the early days of our marriage, in a house that now felt like a mausoleum, filled to its brim with memorabilia from a now-deader than a corpse marriage.
With each drop, I sunk deeper and deeper into my depression and loneliness
Oh, gosh! What about dessert? Surely that might have been more bearable, you ask with hope
Ah, dessert. it was the sweetest, most gut-wrenching one of them all.
A strangely perceptive, curly-haired little boy, all of three years of age with a beautiful toothy smile, looking up at me with puppy goo eyes.
This dessert, or rather the sight of it, shook me the most, like a pot full of pennies, with its tasty and flavourful questions.
Do you even know how to raise a child, nevermind raising one alone?
What if he grows up to disapprove of you and your every decision?
What if he is better off with his father?
And what if you fail at this as spectacularly as you had at your marriage?
And most importantly, what are you going to tell everyone?
Other than setting off an internal Spanish inquisition, Dessert also made me lose my grip on reality. Like this one time, I was standing in front of the lift in my building, and I had no idea if I was coming or going, and I had to ask an extremely amused Adam, (that’s my son’s name btw) what our plan was.
But, here’s the thing, Blackouts are common during this period soon after entering the AD or DD phase, (you know, after divorce and during the divorce) the weight of the stress causes the mind to take temporary flight. (How I wish I had someone who’d tell me that when I was actively blacking out at least ten times in a day mid-life activities)
So you see, ladies and Gentlemen, Single Parenthood, especially in its onset is not an easy meal to down and not only is the same meal served three times a day, but it also comes with unbearable side effects like sleepless nights, the exhaustion of daily routines, the end of social life and complete adult conversations, drudgery, isolation, the list simply goes on.
But the relief and the bright side in all this is that thankfully life goes on.
It goes on, waiting on for no man, tide and especially not for a single mother.
So, along with life, I too dragged myself through the days, albeit at the rate of 10 deep sighs per minute and two crying episodes per hour, until one day, quite miraculously, between a face mask and vicious meal prepping, I simply forgot to worry.
Of course, it wasn’t that simple. Let me be honest, it took a hell of a lot of self-work, realigning and readjusting of the senses, but that’s a tale for another day and another post but long story short, dear readers, becoming and being a single parent is no small feat.
Fun Fact: The only small feet involved here belong to our little children (LOL), and imagine these children as pint-sized little monsters with the energy levels of a hamster on a wheel, peaking on cocaine. (Gimme a double LOL)
And now, drum rolls followed by bated silence please, it is time for our first hard question, would I ever trade this journey to step back into my marriage and my old life?
Never, and here’s why.
I am no longer the person that I was.
You see, it’s almost as though my life has been sliced into three pieces, BD, DD and AD, (you know, before, during, and after divorce), and I no longer recognise the person that I was.
I can’t even imagine what I was doing there in the first place, but if I could travel back in time and meet that girl again, I would serve her an entirely different meal.
I’d give her a more wholesome meal with lots of self-love and confidence boosters, and I’d even sit with her in quiet comfort so she wouldn’t have to eat a morsel by herself, and once her shoulders would begin to relax, I’d quietly tell her that she is enough, not only for herself but also for her son.
I’d tell her to persist.
And to keep persisting with single-minded focus until she becomes the woman and the mother that she is now.
The one with indomitable meal prepping, time managing, and newly discovered Mary Poppinsesque storytelling, problem-solving, and singing skills.
The one who now knows her son’s heartbeat to the beat of her own, the one who no longer cares about the dessert of self-doubt and soul-wrecking questions.
Persist, even if this is not the Happy meal that she dreamt of, and to believe in a day that will come someday when she will wonder why she even considered any other meal.
From the example of my own life, I not only fell head over heels in love with myself but in that path towards self-discovery, I also became a more honest and mature version of myself
Sure, the chores are never-ending, but so are the hugs and kisses, and my son and I have now become the A-team that we needed.
We even have our secret language, and our bond is Fevicol bound.
We know each other better than we ever would have had we continued in the toxic environment that was my marriage, all this while fostering a healthy relationship with the ex-husband AKA father of the Son-shine.
We also make no excuses for the life we live, and communication is of prime importance.
We manage our finances and have learned where to cut, save and splurge without having to second guess our own decisions and instincts, so while you might find me buying a stuffed toy but refusing to spend a penny more on drawing books, it’s only because we a system in place and every purchase is one that makes sense, to us.
And because we become so independent, fiercely so, our children too learn how to become little Simba’s.
More importantly, bravado truly has taken a new meaning with us, Single Parents, because, truly, only the brave can venture into this severely under-documented space of Single Parenting.
Don’t get me wrong, just like everything else, there is a downside to single parenting as well, such as the loneliness, financial problems are a-plenty, disciplining a child single-handedly, dating and me-time to name a few, and all of that (and more) will be discussed amply in the posts to come.
So, join me, Single Superhero Parents (henceforth referred to as SSPs), our allies, supporters, and bringers of joy and wine, as we laugh, cry, and fake (or real) lament over the many challenges of being SSPs.
Remember, this is a safe space to grow, to support, and to normalise the conversation surrounding single-parent households, so feel free to comment and share.
SSP Survival Hack: A face pack a week gives you 15 minutes of uninterrupted peace, and hopefully a glowing face.
Now, pass me my glass of red wine. (Yes, the new and improved happy meal comes with french wine, courtesy friends and potential suitors, and it’s a total winner, I assure you.)