The roller coaster of single parenting
The idea that life has its ups and down is nothing new. We each have our own analogy about life…mine relates it to a roller coaster. Excitement, then fear JUST before you jump on. Then there’s the silent moment when you’re not sure if you want to scream from excitement, or if screaming is the fear lethargically leaving your body. Either way, the energy is out. Then you’re left with the jitters as you do your best to fix your hair and exit the ride.
Was the ride enjoyable? Yes. No. Maybe? Sorry, I was too busy screaming.
I spent 12 years as a single mother and I can relate SO much to the roller coaster analogy. Each situation presenting a new ride option, unviewable upon entry.
Dating: “This ride better not have any loops or scary drops.”
Moving: “Is this a stand up ride, or can I sit?”
Dealing with teenagers: “Why are there no safety bars!”
The stress of every decision you make having some effect on your kids was frightening. Absolutely frightening. I look back on my experience at least once a day and think what I could have done differently to have a different outcome. Goal: Stay living in the same place so the kids didn’t have to go to numerous schools. Will the crazy ride every end?
The roller coaster of dating a single parent
Then things do change. A new rider joins you. They bring the safety bars, and now the ride feels more secure. You’re no longer riding in a row by yourself, and if you’re lucky enough then they’ll stick around for the next coaster…no strings attached.
It’s bliss at first, until you realize YOU are now the coaster. I was the coaster. Correction: I am the coaster. The transition for me was difficult because for so long I was the one. The one who did school, and work, and meals. Now someone new was here and more than willing to help take the load off but I couldn’t comprehend. I couldn’t let go. Give in? No. Why? Because I always do it.
But I didn’t have to. I was lucky enough to have my partner stick through my antics and fully understanding that I wasn’t going to be molding together and relaxing for a while. Matt is an amazing cook, and he does it most nights. I’m the organized nut so I manage the home and we both work together to wrangle the kids. He’s brought me a level of bliss I have never felt before. He’s got my back and is there for me when I need to vent, cry, or ramble on to.
I often wonder about other single parents, and whether their significant others gave them the opportunity and patience to dismantle the wall of “I got this.” How many gave up? How many thought it would never change so they bounced? To all those out there stepping into a partnership with a single parent, I give you these pieces of advice:
Give it time and don’t give up. Be patient with your significant other because change does not happen over night. If you stay strong for them, one day the bricks will start to fall and it will all be worth it.
To all the single parents out there, do know this. Your roller coaster is orchestrated by you. You determine how deep the drops are, and whether there are loops or safety bars. It’s difficult but know that you can do this!