Solo parenting does not make me a single parent

solo parenting does not made me a single parent

Occasionally, when Mr Wallace is travelling I’ve fallen into the trap of saying ‘I’m practically a single mum’ or ‘I’m a single mum this week’. But who am I kidding? It’s like saying you’re practically a doctor when you are a first year med student. Solo parenting does not make me a single parent. Doing the solo parent gig for a short, defined period is hugely different from being a single parent. Sure, it’s tough when Mr Wallace travels. Kid wrangling on your own can be soul destroying. But, as we tell the boys, Daddy always comes back. There’s light at the end of my solo-parenting tunnel.

Frankly, I should know better. For most of my childhood I grew up in a single parent household. It was tough. Money was tight, I missed Dad which caused tension between Mum and I, and Mum had to do every single thing around the house. Out of respect to those who are genuine single parents I’ve stopped falsely claiming that status. Clearly, feeling like a single mum is very different from actually being one!

Family finances

We have a comfortable life. We have a mortgage and a reliable, modern car. We’re planning a three-week overseas holiday. Our lives would be remarkably different if I was a real single mum. Money would be a hell of a lot tighter. I’d have to work full time rather than my current two days a week. Things I don’t even blink an eye about buying would be quickly put into the luxury category.

Relief is in sight

When Mr Wallace is away, parenting is certainly more relentless than usual. But there is always relief in sight. I can count down the days until he returns, and he’s never gone for long. If you are a single parent, no-one is coming home to lighten the load. Single parent’s don’t have anyone to negotiate times to duck out for a haircut or trade off weekend sleep ins.

Emotions aren’t frazzled

Sure, I miss Mr Wallace when he’s away and I’m solo parenting. But I’m not grieving the breakdown of our relationship. I might have to drink alone every now and then, but I know he’ll be back so we can share the bottle of wine. Even when Mr Wallace is away, I can call or text him for a quick vent about the boys driving me bonkers. I’m certainly not counseling the boys through the turmoil of parent’s separating. I felt very uncertain of my place in the world when my parents split. In hindsight, that must have made parenting even tougher for my mum.

I’ve said I’m “single parenting” as a way to express my frustration and unhappiness about being the only grown up in my house. It must make single parents roll their eyes in exasperation. It’s a flippant comment and I certainly don’t mean any harm. But I’m stopping. Really, solo parenting does not make me a single parent, the difference is huge.

Now, help me out. I’ve pondered this question for a long time. Am I drinking alone while Mr Wallace is away and the kids are in bed?

26 thoughts on “Solo parenting does not make me a single parent

  1. THANKYOU Claire! It has always annoyed me when I hear women say they are practically single parents. I was one for 6 years. It’s no where near the same. I think next time I will respectfully (if I can) point out they are full of crap. I love this post. Your insight and respect for your Mum and others is lovely.

    1. I think it’s important to recognise that comments like ‘I’m a single mum this week’ is really insensitive and offensive to those that really are single mums. Thank you for your lovely and supportive comment, I’m pleased the post has been well received.

    1. I knew it must drive real single parents bonkers! Thanks for your lovely comment Amy, I was nervous that this post might make some people a bit cross so I appreciate your support.

  2. The first thing I noticed in this beautiful photo (up the top) is, wow your youngest has looong legs. But then, stupid Kelly realised they were yours :). Hahaha!

    Great post Claire! Some things we have to sacrifice to make our family life the way it is. x

  3. Ahh yes, I’ve seen people talk about this a bit. I feel the same in a way as I’m single (always been single and live alone) and sometimes married friends / friends with kids have some time alone and tell me how wonderful it must be to have so much time to myself. As you said – spending a bit of time in that world doesn’t mean you understand what it’s like to live it 24/7.

  4. I’ve solo parented for about two years so far, on and off, it’s bloody hard, but like you said, your partner is coming back so you get a break then. I take my hat off to real single parents, they do an awesome job and should be told so more often. Tip for newbie solo parents – always have a bottle of wine and chocolate handy!

  5. Great post! I am currently solo parenting and it always makes me so aware, on such a tiny scale, that single parents really are completely amazing people and that I cannot even fathom their experience. This post is so lovely and I am sure there are single parents out there appreciating what you’ve shared.

  6. Yep – agree with you and the others! I’ve never been a single mum but would never try and compare the two, as they are very different indeed. (and that pic of you and the kids – swoon!)

  7. I solo parent for 3 days a week while my partner does shift work and its bloody hard, I can’t imagine having to do it full time. My mum was a single parent from when I was 10, but I helped out a lot and did cooking, cleaning etc {she had a breakdown though so our situation was a bit different to normal}. I can imagine how hard it would be looking after young kids solo all the time.

    1. I totally agree Toni, it is hard work when partners are away. I just hang on to the thought that they are coming back some time in the not too distant future!

  8. It still sounds tough. I’d get a pretty good sook going when my partner used to work late all the time, he’d get home around 10pm. Some nights they’d refuse to sleep until he got home and so on. Not at all the same as being single, but still hard work. 🙂

    1. Oh it’s still absolutely tough, don’t get me wrong. But I just don’t think referring to myself as a ‘single mum’ when clearly I’m not is far on those that are single mums, because they are vastly different things.

  9. Great post. I’m not a single parent, but it still bugs me when people who are solo parenting for a brief period call themselves single parents. As well as all that, the love and support of your other half, even if they’re not actually there, is a huge bonus. x

  10. I am a single mum 24/7, 365 days a year and have been for 13 years. There is no co-parenting, just me. I work full time and have raised my daughter myself. I have to say when I hear another mum say “I’m practically a single mum because my hubby works away”, it reminds me of the incredible job I am doing that she is doing with two people. When a mother says that to another mother, who is in fact a complete single mother, it displays a real lack of compassion and understanding. You would have no clue what its like to juggle life on a single income in todays world unless you have done it, you would have no idea what it’s like to work through every school holidays and not be able to spend them with your kids because you won’t have any money otherwise (there is no husband to support you), you can only take so many sick days a year because you only get paid for so many, you miss out of attending important school events because you have a job and can’t leave it whenever you feel like it, you don’t have the luxury of travel or holidays (ever), you don’t own your own home or have much chance of ever, everyday you are giving more of yourself to everyone around you at the detriment of your health, you don’t have anyone to hug you or lean on when you cry or when it all gets too much, the emotional turmoil of not having anyone to share the highs and lows with and to watch the kids grow, there is no extra cash when too many bills come in all at once, it’s the food supply or something you need that gets sacrificed. A single parent is the one wearing all the hats well into utter exhaustion.

    And I say all this as a way of explaining what a ‘single parent’ goes through because I have been through it, I have lived it. My life is much easier now simply because I have become accustomed to it and it is our way of life together. I have worked hard, sacrificed my time to make life easier and smoother for my little family.

    Reading your blog I am glad to see you acknowledge the falsehood of your words claiming to “practically be a single parent”. And I don’t hold your words against you as I’m sure there are times when you are exhausted, but there is help on its way to you. If only so many other mums who say the same thing would recognise the hurts in single mums eyes to have just a fraction of ease and help that you may have. Thats not to say that anyones life is easier than another, we all have our own struggles. But, best not pretend life is tougher than it really is.

    You blog was so refreshing and honest … but please remember, the worst thing you can say to a new single parent who is struggling with life is “I’m practically a single parent”, when your married with a second income and emotional support. Paradoxically, we are all women caring for our children doing the best we can.

    As a single parent I have a blog where I write about being a single mother of a teenager justustwo.com.au

    I loved reading all the different comments and opinions. x

    1. Thank you for your honest and thoughtful comment. I am honestly in awe of single parents, it must be a very tough gig. One that I cannot properly understand!

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