How to be a single parent? Well; by fate, circumstance, death, your own dysfunction, someone else's dysfunction, that special stew of dysfunction you shared with your former partner, you find yourself the only parent in your home responsible for the little people that reside there at least part of the time. Statistically speaking the majority of single parent homes are headed by women. A large percentage of children in poverty live in homes headed by single parents. These are homes and families with challenges that any solid family unit do not have.
How do I know this? Well, I am a single mother.Twice over. My first son was born when I was 26 years old. I left an abusive relationship when I was 6 months pregnant. I gave birth,took 6 week maternity leave at the same time that Dan Quayle was maligning Murphy Brown for being a single parent. I went back to work when my son was 6 weeks old with spotty daycare, a former boyfriend I would have to negotiate with for the next 18 years, a low paying job.
My second son was born when I was 39. This time I was married. It was never a whirlwind romance. But it was comfortable and reliable ( so I thought). We shared the same dreams. But as the years past, I realized I was really unhappy and I wasn't getting what I needed out of the relationship. I supported everything he wanted to do but somehow there was never any room for what I wanted. And him. I can only guess. My theory is he didn't want to be married anymore and he needed somebody to be the bad guy..and that wasn't going to be him.
So there I am 45. I have a 6 year old. I have no job in one of the toughest job markets in decades. I have a forty year old house at the end of a 2 mile dirt road that needs work I can't afford to fix and can't afford to sell. I have a crappy car. A single mother again.
That was two years ago. I know challenges. I know shame. In know pride in my boys. I have had small but very important triumphs as well. And while I may not be on the solid financial footing I was on when I was married; while connecting the dots between incoming and outgoing funds may require a little negotiating with my friends Peter and Paul, every day; like so many other single parents, I get the job done.