There are two words within ‘single parent’ and, for me, they highlight very different aspects.
‘Parent’ and parenting involves you and your child/children so two or more individuals. It’s about togetherness, not solo activity, and is something you and I both know all about involving lots of love, interaction, respect, care, clothes washing and good snacks!
The second word in single parent is ‘single’ and that can vary a lot between us.
I didn’t become a single parent through choice, which creates one distinction. If you went into being a solo mum or dad knowing that was how it was going to be, you might not need to come to terms with your single status for too long. You may choose to date again sooner rather than later or perhaps you may not. Either way, being single and a parent was a choice made (and an awesome one at that).
If, however, you became a single parent through other circumstances such as bereavement, abuse or the breakdown of a relationship, then the idea of dating once more may be further off (if at all).
Things may vary again if you are not in contact with the other parent, have difficulties or, alternatively, if you amicably split from them and are happily co-parenting together.
In summary, our situations regarding singleness will be as unique as we all are!
Whatever is happening for you today too, know this is okay. Things are as they need to be right now so don’t worry or think anything should be different. Be in the present, focusing on your daily joy and thriving. Gingerbread cites an average of 5 years for single parenthood so the rest will come if and when it’s meant to.
My Switch for Change
I’ve been single for almost two years now and it has been an enlightening time. Not only have we experienced a global pandemic which, often still, blows my mind but it has also been a time where I truly came to terms with my single status. Then, I revelled in it and, finally, realised I would love to love again.
So, about 6 months ago, I signed up to two dating apps but I was conflicted. I experienced a pull towards what I ‘should’ be doing (looking for romance) and a push back to what felt more comfortable (namely sitting around in my pyjamas).
Then, came The Switch. I realised I needed help with my conflict around dating; I was blocked on certain things.
My biggest problems were eye-rolling at guys on dating apps, backing away from messaging and having a fairly stinking attitude to it all. If I did deign to meet someone and start to like them after a few dates, then I would panic and act like a different person – stumbling around, floundering in low confidence. Would they like my back? Would this go anywhere? Was I good enough?
I had a classic case of wobbler attachment – often avoidant, sometimes anxious, rarely secure.
Basically, a lot of b*$hit was evident in my behaviours and thinking but – whilst I could see things were wrong – I had no idea how to shift them. My nonsense had started to become worryingly automatic.
So, I deleted the apps and got some much-needed coaching on my blocks. I knew I couldn’t get past them on my own, regardless of how self-aware I am.
Over the course of some months, I learnt a number of important things:
- In my past two relationships since my twenties, I’d put my partner before me. Their happiness had been more important than mine; I’d backed away from personal wants, needs and desires in favour of theirs.
- I also had few boundaries set for myself. I didn’t know what I did or didn’t want so I was opting for the seemingly more straightforward option of being with no-one.
- As the people-pleaser I was previously, I would find it hard to speak up on aspects I wasn’t happy with. I internalised and withdrew from confrontation, having poor communication skills in romantic relationships.
And – do you know what – as soon as I saw these things for what they were I had a true ‘ahhh haaa’ moment. I understood the b*$hit, knew where it came from and, most importantly, I was released from it.
And – PHEW – what a bloody relief that was!
- I now love myself first, no matter what.
- I am truly happy and this will remain always regardless of whom I choose to romantically love again.
- I have boundaries for myself, voice those clearly, and I don’t people-please. I simply say how I feel, what I’m thinking and open up to all my vulnerability and honesty with love and kindness.
About 6 weeks ago, I loaded up those dating apps again and it’s like I’m a different person towards every aspect of love, romance and dating. I have genuine happiness and joy towards it, whether I meet someone through that means or in regular life. There’s obviously no rush, with Covid restrictions too, but what’s crucial is I have no negativity towards any aspect of dating. The energy that surrounds it is peaceful, fun and buoyant and I know that won’t change.
What is meant to be, will truly be.
I look forward to meeting the awesome someone who’s around the corner, looking for me too!
(Photos by Chris Benson, Tyler Nix, Nick Fewings, Felipe Correia & Annie Spratt)