When there’s no one else to say no


Drawing attention to the fact that most of the time I’m a single parent is not something I like to do. I’m self-sufficient. I pay my bills (mostly) on time. I have a mortgage. I buy healthy (ish) food for both my son and I. I have a career. Yet, I make sure I still have time for me and exercise, and go out, and drink too much wine … but I digress.

I am a single mother.

I have no partner to help me when I’m with my son. When it’s my week/weekend with him, I am alone. Just him and I. Even when I was dating someone, the weekends I had Owen were mostly spent just us two.That time together is very important to me, especially that it’s just us.

Owen’s 4 1/2 now, and he’s an absolute joy. I adore my time with him. I look forward to our weekend adventures and try my best to give him as many experiences as I can. Watching the world through his eyes is absolutely incredible, and it brings a huge smile to my face every time we’re together.

But it can be as taxing as it is rewarding.

When it’s just us two, I play both parental roles. All. The. Time. I don’t get to share tasks or punishments for that matter. There’s no one else to say no. It’s always me. And it wears on me.

A few weeks ago, while visiting a very dear friend and her husband, with Owen in tow, this was pointed out out to me. They were inquiring into my well-being and I was explaining that I was coping with life in general but that I was rather exhausted, despite Owen being an amazing little boy who is really very, very easy to live with.

“Of course you’re tired,” chuckled my dear friend who’s also experience single-motherdom.

“There’s no one else to say no, is there?”

And for a moment I was confused. Then it hit me.

There are days I feel like all I do is chastise Owen. All I do is say no he can’t, and could he stop, and please don’t touch, and sit up, and don’t do that… it’s tiring. And I hate it. I wish I never had to tell him no. I wish I could let him run wild sometimes, but then what kind of adult would he grow up to be?

Owen really is exceptionally well-behaved (and I promise I’m not just being one of those barf-y mums who thinks her kid can do no wrong, ever). I’ve never heard someone tell me the contrary or rather friends/family/strangers are quick to point out how good he actually is. I assume if he was badly behaved nothing would be said at all.

All that to say: I still say no. A lot. And I hate it.

We do everything together: From bank appointments to museum outings to my gym time (there’s a play area for kids and he loves it while mummy gets her sweat on), right down to coming to work with me when he’s sick and I can’t stay home. He’s my sidekick, my main man, my best friend.

But I’m tired.

Being a single parent is exceptionally incredible in so many ways, and horribly daunting in so many others.

Do I wish I had someone to help? Fuck yes.

I’ve never experienced being a parental unit. Ever. Not even when my ex and I were together did we parent “together.” On our own, we were fine. Together? We were never a unit. I don’t know what it feels like to have that support to share that parenting task. And I want to.

To have someone to wake up on Saturday morning with Owen, let me have a lay in, perhaps bring me a tea in bed … those are the types of fantasies I have. Truthfully. Super sexy, right?

I know I am extremely lucky in that despite being a largely single parent, I have a great deal of help from my parents. I visit them often and then the rearing task is shared mostly between my mother and I. But that only happens for 1 maybe 2 nights and a day during a week and only every few weeks, sometimes longer than that.

I also have incredible friends who openly suggest outings with Owen and I (usually activities that are kid-oriented even when they themselves don’t have kids) or ensure restaurants are kid-friendly and don’t mind at all that he comes for dinners or brunches.

Plus, with shared custody I do get a few days every second weekend to myself, sans child. And it’s almost like I lead two different lives at that point. For 6 days it’s #mumslife then suddenly for the next 5 days and nights I’m childless and free to do what I please and go where I want without time restraints or a little person to entertain, feed, scold, and care for.

It’s very, very odd.

My mother raised me on her own till I was about 8-9 years old when my step-father came into the picture. I admire everything she ever did for me, and for us. She made some hard decisions when I was younger. She sacrificed a lot. She gave a lot. And she always, always put me first. And she also said no, and she was the only one who did.

I think I’m a better person, and a better mother because of her.

When there’s no one else to say no, it changes the parent you become I think. And not in a bad way. I feel stronger and better for it. I feel more in charge of myself and my convictions. Do I think I’m the best single mum out there? Far, far from it. But I’m trying, damn it. And if it means I have to keep being the only one who says no to a child who’s so incredibly amazing in order to make him a better human being for society when he becomes an adult. Well, fuck, I guess I’ll just have to keep saying no then won’t I?

~ by drivingmsmiranda on May 20, 2016.

One Response to “When there’s no one else to say no”

  1. My husband is not very good at saying no, so unfortuneatly I was the meanie who had to do the discipline thing. It pays off though, when people comment how well your children are behaved, believe me! Sooner or later, all the repetition pays off.

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