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!
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?