The Joys of Single Parenthood

Over the last two weeks nighttimes Chez Campbell have been a pain. Teething, colds, general ‘mummy’ clinginess have all meant that I have been up and down like a yoyo to one child or the other. I have tried earlier nights to combat the sleep deprivation but it makes no difference. It really is a form of torture. It is as if both Evie and Isla Baby know when I have stopped clearing up toys, doing washings, attempting paperwork etc and have finally signed off for the night because inevitably as soon as I switch off for standby every day they start their nighttime shenanigans. I almost feel like someone is playing a joke on me and there are night-vision cameras overhead watching the to-ing and fro-ing, moving one baby from one bed to my bed, out of my bed to another bed, then doing the same with the other baby, administering Calpol as I go, and all the while a soundtrack is playing Benny Hill-style music. It’s a disaster.
Colin wasn’t a natural at being involved in the nighttime fiasco times with Evie but he took it on. We did discuss that as he was the main earner it was my duty to get him to work able to function so Mondays to Thursdays it was my fiasco. It changed a bit when I returned to work but I actually didn’t mind because I knew come the weekend there would be a let up and it was MY TIME. This is the one of the biggest drawbacks I have encountered since he died. There is no let up. There is no one to elbow in the back and say ‘it’s your turn’ when the familiar sound of a child cranking up for a squawk happens over the monitor. I am shattered.
I know I am not the first single parent and won’t be the last. I also know that splitting up is no joy either as Colin often reported how nasty it got when during a divorce couples used children as leverage or ammunition against the other. I don’t have the issue of someone taking my time away from my babies or making it difficult for me to see them. Some could argue widowhood is better because there are no arguements with anyone about childrens’  futures but really that’s a whole other discussion. Single parenthood, however it comes, is quite rubbish.
In some ways it hasn’t changed too much for me. Col did let me make most of the day to day decisions for our girls. But what he brought to the table was support when I needed it, love and attention for the girls every single day, time for me to shower of a morning without an audience, fun, future financial planning and, quite a massive part, a person to bounce off the major decision-making with. Last week Isla was ill. Colin would have kept me sane or sent me ballistic, I can’t make my mind up over which it would have been, but at least he would have been part of a discussion over whether she was in need of urgent attention or whether we were being stupid. He was also the one that was doing all the forward planning for their financial security. This now keeps me awake at night when the girls aren’t. When I am lying in bed not sleeping between the ups and downs of child soothing duties I lie there thinking of all the things I now have to do that I didn’t realise he did when I sat with other mothers at work, cafes, toddler classes or NCT meets moaning about stupid husbands. I wish I could take back all the times we argued because I didn’t think he was pulling his weight. He was and I didn’t realise how lucky I was until he was gone. Bring back the huge showdown we had over why had I not supplied what he called ‘a bottom drying cloth’ at Isla’s changing station. I was incensed. He was critcising my mothering skills (bear in mind Isla was six weeks old at the time so probably hormones were still raging). I walked out threatening to take both girls with me to Edinburgh but ended up standing in a freezing cold Earlsfield play park, three minutes around the corner, with my double buggy filled with astonished children and weeping for half an hour while sending him evil text messages until I calmed down. That day I wished I could bring up my children without their idiot father. I was the idiot. Careful what you wish for world.

3 Replies to “The Joys of Single Parenthood”

  1. Nicola, there are no words to explain how I feel for you, and anyone else in this situation right now.

    My mum (also widowed young, she was just 37, and I was 8 when my dad died of a heart attack) says the best definition she has ever heard for ’empathy’ is ‘your pain in my heart’. I don’t know you, I have never met your children and I didn’t know your husband yet I have tears running down my face and a huge lump in my throat as I type this.

    What you are going through is bloody awful. And so unfair. And I wish I could change that. But I can’t.

    For now, I will hold you, and your girls in my heart.

  2. All marriages are full of the silliest spats. I recently got it in the neck from Mike for squeezing Alexander’s bottom cream from the top of the tube rather than the bottom. xxx

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