Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Single Parent Cling-on

Being the single parent of a single child has many challenges. On the upside we are the smallest, neatest family you can imagine. On the downside, Connor has no playmate but me, and that can be quite exhausting, so from time to time inevitably we look for alternatives.

During my five years of single parenthood, I have always been grateful for families that take us under their wing. We are absorbed by them on their day-trips, holidays, Christmasses and parties. It is lovely to feel part of something bigger, and I am grateful it is just the two of us, as we are very manageable and invites are often forthcoming. However, some element of this is starting to wear thin. Namely that I always feel like a third wheel, gooseberry, lemon.

This is just about bearable when I am with a couple I know well and like and the arrangement is made well in advance. However Connor, being a very gregarious child often picks up families at school or on holiday and gets us invited along. So I find myself hanging out at cafes, beaches, playground with couples I hardly know basically cramping their style like an oversized chaperone. Or that is how it feels to me. Sometimes it just seems it would be easier to dispense with the niceties and say "Just mind my child for a while I'm off for some me time" But that too feels socially unacceptable, unless it comes with a reciprocal arrangement whereby I get 3-4 unpredictable rampaging kids in my apartment for the afternoon. They at least get the pleasure of each other's company at the end of a day of kid wrangling.

This, as much as other elements of single parenthood, is almost enough to propel me into a relationship.

1 comment:

Bernadine said...

I can relate to this in a different way.

I'm single now-- down from married. And while I don't have kids, I'm still being absorbed into other people's celebrations when before, my husband and I did a lot of our own stuff.

I feel like a third wheel every time, but especially around my sister's family. (Her husband is kind of an ass, to me-- especially last Christmas. Long story about him taking a child away from me..._
But I guess it all gets back to being on the outside looking in, and feeling sad, and being reminded that it didn't *used!* to be this way.

Sometimes, when I'm feeling low, it makes me think about starting a relationship too.

I bet the annoying bits in your situation come from smug couples with perfect kids, who haven't gotten bitch-slapped by reality yet. Ugh. Hang in there.