I have always taken a dislike to the term ‘part time parent’ simply because we love and care for our children every single second of every day. Even when they are not with you. And sharing time between parents and other relatives is always something to think about when Mum and Dad don’t live together.
I have a five year old son who lives with his father and attends school in his town and I spend every second weekend with him for visits. Many people, I find, become very judgemental when they hear that a child does not live with their mother. Personally, I chose for my son to live with his father as I was suffering from severe depression. I didn’t want my son to suffer too.
And so I became the ‘single parent’. There are many Mums and Dads who find themselves in this position every day. I experienced my pregnancy alone. I found that I became distraught after picking up any pregnancy magazine to read through. And the reason was harsh and clear. I was reading articles about something I could barely relate to. ‘Have your partner sing or talk to your bump’…. Well, what if I don’t have a partner?? Every word reminded me that I was alone. All those years ago I remember thinking that I wanted to write an article of my own. Something informative that some mothers can relate to as well as saying that single parents are out there and may want to know of a few things that Mummy can enjoy with her bump. As much as it is wonderful to hear about husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends all expecting, do we always have to ask our partner for a massage or foot rub? Because of having to ask ‘my partner’ to do so many things that were described in the articles, I basically only read the advertisements. There was nothing at all for single parents.
And after birth the learning doesn’t stop for you or your child. I know I’m still learning to get on with my son’s father! Things will not always be a smooth ride, nor will separated parents always agree with each other. There are many obstacles to overcome and there is only one question that clears up any confusion; ‘what is best for your child?’ A good example of this: recently my son’s father requested that he should share his surname. My son at this time still had mine and there was a part of me that felt so proud of that. But what was best for my son? What would happen if I was to refuse? When my child goes on holiday, his family will have a different surname in their passports to him. And at school. Hospital. Doctors. Bank account. Legal documents. In the grand scheme of things, agreeing for my son’s surname to be changed would make life a whole lot easier. Also, it wouldn’t confuse him as he grew older to understand such things. What is best for my child? I felt like I had surrendered and been defeated by an idiot who left me during my pregnancy, but as an adult, I understood that I had made the right choice for my little boy.
Guest blog post by Lucie Hartley, Mum to five-year old Rafe