Tag Archives: single parenting

True Heroes: Guest Post by Kerry White

2 Jan

I go through phases where I spend a lot of time whining about how tough my life is. I’m working too much, I’m commuting for too long, I have too much to do when I get home, I get too little sleep. In the end, though, I’m always able to give my head a shake and reflect on the fact that I don’t have to do it alone. By the time I get home at the end of the work-day, the kids are home and fed. I have a husband who carries laundry baskets up and down the stairs so I don’t have to do it myself. I have someone to talk to at the end of the day, and when I go to bed at night, I have the physical and emotional warmth of another human being – one who may drive me nuts from time to time, but who I love and trust and wouldn’t want to trade for anyone in the world.

I have all the respect in the world for single parents, and often I wonder: how the hell does anyone do this alone? It’s hard enough to parent when there are two of you. Today’s post comes to us from one of those people I respect and admire so much. Kerry White is, like me, a transplanted South African. She lives in Texas, where she works as a freelance writer and raises her adorable little son. I am honoured to start of 2012 with this message of inspiration from a mom who helps us keep it all in perspective.

Thinking about what to write for this great and upbeat post was giving me a bit of a headache. I truly wanted to find that inner positive spirit I know I’ve got somewhere! I’ve been feeling so very Grinchy lately because it seems that the entire Universe has conspired against me to give me no end of grief in many areas. My son was sick with repeated rounds of ear infections, bronchitis, and a stomach virus, all in the span of 30 days. It was his 3rd birthday this month and I was so tired with a definite lack of funds in the bank so we sort of just didn’t do anything. I lost several high-value clients due to my need to put my son’s health and care first over their projects. I had someone steal my bank card information on the eve of Christmas Eve. Well, the list goes on and my own blog is filled with angst… but I am going to stop right here, right now.

This isn’t about being down and out. Because the truth is that, while things might be a bit of a challenge for me right now, I am still doing pretty okay considering everything else. My son’s health problems, while irritating and frustrating for us both, are fairly minor. My bank account will recover with a bit of hard work and a few nights of missed sleep for me. My son’s health issues do tend to clear up, with time and antibiotics.

Our house is warm, we have one another, and we have support from those who care about us. There’s even a special fella I’d love to make a much more prominent factor in our lives.

So often those supportive friends of mine tell me that I am a hero in their eyes, a supermom, and a super mom. However, I don’t feel it. I truly don’t. This led me to two other trains of thought.

There are parents who go through so much more with their darling children. Illnesses from which they will never recover, incredible and never-ending financial strife, endless trips to doctor’s offices, trips to the hospital from which their children may never return to their home, parents living in their cars or otherwise relying on the kindness of others to help them and their family. I have friends who were blessed to hold their babies in their arms, but for such a short amount of time before letting them go. I have friends who are parents without children in their arms yet.

Those are the true heroes, the super moms, the super dads, the superparents. They deserve the credit, they deserve the respect, they deserve the love, and the help. Truthfully, every parent needs to hear that they’re doing a pretty okay job at this parenting gig.

As parents, as people who care, we need to recognize in each other the greatness and the pure selflessness of loving parents. Sure things can be tough, rough, and overwhelming. But it seems to be the rare parent who doesn’t find things to be a challenge in one way or another. We need to support, encourage, and help one another realize that this is a big ole job and that it’s okay to not get everything perfect sometimes.

We’re going to feel like we’re at the end of our rope, we’re going to fall on the ground sobbing and begging whatever Powers That Be who may be listening to please friggen help us! But, with the support and help from our friends who may have been there, we can get through it! Maybe not with our sanity intact and our hair brushed, but get through it we will.

It takes a village, right? I think it goes a little bit further than that for parents; it takes a worldwide network of parental support to raise these kids we’ve been blessed with. 2012 is a great opportunity for us to start over, make resolutions to eat less, love more, and just be the support we need to be for others who are perhaps struggling just a little bit more than we are today.

I, for one, am counting my blessings now. I am counting my amazing friends and family members, including my amazing grandmother who is always there to answer the phone when I need support after a particularly challenging day. I wish for you nothing but strength, love, support, and the wisdom to know when you need to reach out to someone for support.

(Photo credit: Jorge Diaz1)

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The Hardest Job In The World

8 Dec

Parenting is the hardest job in the world. You never get time off – not even when you’re sleeping, not even when you are at work and your children are at school. You don’t get paid – not, at least, in any financial sense. There are times when you feel overworked, overwhelmed, and underappreciated, and every single little mistake you make can come back at you like a boomerang, days or weeks or even years later. Being a mom – or indeed, a dad – can drain your emotional and physical energy. You have to be in a million places at once, do a million things at a time, be teacher, nurse, therapist, judge, and mediator – sometimes simultaneously. The job comes with huge dollops of guilt: guilt for not having the time to play with your child while the stove is boiling over and the dog is barfing; guilt for locking yourself in the bathroom for five minutes of alone-time; guilt for actually buying something for yourself instead of spending the money on your child; guilt for rushing the homework supervision because the dinner is not made and the washing machine is jammed.

To be fair, the job of parenting has the best rewards ever: the enormous, gap-toothed smiles; the giant bear-hugs; the peals of childhood laughter; the I love you Mommy’s; the chance to look at your sleeping children at night and be filled with the most profound, incredible love.

It is  hard though, and us parents should be allowed to acknowledge that without that feeling of ever-present guilt.

And yet, when I think of how tough it all is, I cannot help reflecting on what parenthood was like for my grandmother. She was born in 1903, and her third and final child – my mother – was born just a couple of years before the start of World War II. Despite being geographically remote from the events of the war, South Africa was part of the British Commonwealth, and therefore joined the Allied forces. My grandfather was one of the generation of men sent off into the front-lines of battle in North Africa.

This thrust my grandmother into the daunting and somewhat unexpected territory of single-parenting three young children in times of extreme economic hardship. Things weren’t so easy for women back then – if they wanted to work, they were teachers or nurses. The term “stay at home mom” had not even been invented because it was unspeakable that there would be any other kind of mom.

For me, as a mom raising children in 2011, I have a reasonable degree of control over my life. I can choose to work (actually, that’s a lie – I have to work if I want my kids to have shoes instead of walking barefoot in the snow). I have a wide choice of career options, I can express myself freely through my writing, and I can get out there and go running. I have the freedom – within the framework of my family life – to make my own choices and steer my life in a certain direction.

My grandmother did not have the same leeway. She was controlled in a big way by the events going on in the world at the time. She was, in many respects, a bystander in her own life. She could only watch and wait as the world went through its turmoil, and she had to raise her kids knowing that things could change at any moment, things that she had no control over. A telegram could arrive telling her that my grandfather had been killed. Supplies of something-or-other could abruptly run out, leaving her scrambling for an alternative. The war could end and my grandfather could come home. The war could continue and she might not see him for a very long time. He could come home minus a limb or suffering from severe psychological trauma. She had no way of knowing what was going to happen.

It was a day-to-day kind of existence for that generation of mothers. My grandmother, and other women in her position, did not have the luxury of making choices or setting goals for the future.

Yes, parenting is the hardest job in the world. But I think, in many ways, that it is not as hard as it used to be.

This week’s Indie Ink Challenge came from Tara Roberts, who gave me this prompt: She was a bystander in her own life.
I challenged The Drama Mama with the prompt: Tell a story about how missing a bus for a few seconds can change your life.