An ode to the single parent

I’ve known a lot of people that are single parents. Actually, I think these days, we all know quite a few. It’s a very sad fact that marriages are breaking up more frequently than ever… with or without children. I’ve known some single parents that seem to just continue along as if they never lost their spouse and then I’ve known others that simply fall apart and can’t handle it.

Being more involved in the Autism community lately, especially through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, I’ve encountered even more single parents that don’t just deal with the every day parenting issues but with much larger issues… special needs children.

In them, I see so much turmoil, so much despair, so much anxiety…. and so much strength.

I’m getting ahead of myself, but when I talk to single moms (there are so few single dads, and with good reason), I am often talking to them about how they wish they could find a man, or had a man that would do the things that I think of as just every day chores, every day average things to do… such as dishes, laundry, cooking.. even playing with the kids.

You see, often times there are single parents living with a husband or wife. In those cases, the mother (or father) is doing all the parenting while the other person has little to no involvement. Yes they have a spouse, but they’re still a single parent. And to those who live in a marriage like this, I write this to you as well because you deserve to know this too.

I like to help out around the house and I really love to play with my boys. And when I share these things, I often hear words of envy or even sorrow from single parents that really makes me sad. Yes, because I feel bad for them but more so that they should consider me above average or ‘unusual’ in that I do all the things that I really think that should be what average men do.

Those people often say how they need to find someone, they need someone to help them… they can’t keep doing it alone. My response, usually, is that I disagree… I think they can keep doing it alone. Not that they should have to, but that they can because they are.

single parent

Single Parent

As a parent, I know how hard parenting can be.. as a parent with a child that has Autism, I know how hard that can be. And when I think, that even if I very generously gave myself a 50% in the ‘holding my own weight around here’ category, that’s still only HALF of it all and I would be the first (if not me then my wife certainly!) to tell you that 50% is more than generous. I do my fair share but my wife is the true rock of the family.

To stop and think, even for just a moment, what it would be like to take on 100% of it, is almost too much to comprehend. I simply know, completely and truthfully, that I could not do it. I can say, with absolute honesty, that I couldn’t do it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my boys to death and I’d do anything I could for them but I know my limitations. I just can not juggle parenting and work and special needs issues and everything else entirely on my own. I’d hit a breaking point eventually.

Here’s the thing… I think it’s safe to say that I speak for the majority of people out there. Most people, with the state of the world as it is today, could not handle being a single parent. And earlier I said that there are so few single fathers, it’s not that I am saying it’s not possible, but I think that men are simply less capable of doing it then women are.

What I’m trying to say is that these women, and some men too, that tell me that they need help, they can’t do it anymore… I see them as the true inspiration, the true warriors. They don’t need help, they want help. They can do it because they have done it and are doing it now. Some help would make it easier, some help would give them a much needed break but even if they never get help, I know full well that they’ll continue on being a great single parent without it because they’ve already proven they can.

We all have our failures, and sure, a single parent may have more than a co-parent might… but the successes they have are theirs alone. Think about it… toilet training? My wife and I were a team… racing to be in there at a moment’s notice. Doing that alone? Sure, we could have, but it would have been far more difficult. Late night illnesses, temper tantrums, refusing to eat, sporting events, first dates…. oh the list goes on and on. But you are reading this, you already know the extent of the list just as well, or better, than I do.

Single parents have tackled these things all by themselves and do not look forward to having to tackle the next ones… because they will be very hard to do all by themselves, but they’ll do it! Just like they did the last ones. And I couldn’t be more proud.

Are you a single parent? Do you have a husband or wife that doesn’t help? I am very sorry that you have to go it alone but please, never ever doubt yourself. You’ve done it, you’re doing it and that’s proof enough for me that you can keep doing it if you have to. Help is out there, but even if it never comes, know that I am proud of you. I am amazed by you. I sit here knowing full well that I’d never have even made it as far as you have and no matter what you might think of all the things I do around the house to help… you are my inspiration.

It’s because of you that I help my wife as much as I can… not as much as I do, but as much as I can. You inspire me by showing me what true parenting really is… the determination, the self sacrifice, the iron willpower to always be there and to always do anything and everything that you have to do for your children no matter what.

I have faith that everything your child may lack from having that second parent is more than made up for with the amazing role model that you are before them… that they will grow up to know exactly what a true long term commitment can do and what devoting yourself completely can make you capable of.

Believe me when I say, with no offence intended, that I really hope that I never have to go through what you’re going through but that’s only because I know I’m not as strong as you are. Don’t ever give up and more importantly, please believe me when I say you don’t “need” help, but rather you “want” help. Because when you make it a need, you become desperate and start to see it when it’s not really there.. possibly putting yourself in a worse spot than you were before. But that’s a whole other topic.

I sincerely hope you do not have to go it alone for much longer but for however long you do continue to be a single parent, know that I am proud of you, your children are proud of you, all of us parents could learn from you, not the other way around, and that no matter how hard it may seem sometimes, you can do it. You’re all the proof you need.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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13 Responses to An ode to the single parent

  1. Dani G December 4, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    Great post, Stuart. I’m gonna share it with others!

  2. Kari December 4, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Wow, truly the world needs more people like you. I am not a single mom, I am married, but somedays it feels as if I do all the housework myself. My husband is great at coming up with money to support the family. And god I am thankful for that. But all the housework normally falls on me. He believes since I do not work, it is my JOB to do the dishes, landry, clean so forth and take care of the kids. Yes, he does work around the house like fixing things. But I do about 80% of the cooking (besides when he grills).. cleaning and so forth. i told him being a mom is a 24/7 job and it is hard work somedays and he laughes at me. I wish I could trade places with him for just one day so he can see how it is truly like to do dishes with a two year old biting your ankles and a four year old having an autistic meltdown at the same time. I would glady go out in the work force for a chance at adult interaction sometimes!

    Don’t get me wrong though, I LOVE my children and I am not complaining. I love and cherish every second I get with them…and I do feel blessed I get to spend time with them and stay home. I am only asking for help matching socks once in awhile, or helping me dry dishes.

    THANK YOU for this post Stuart

  3. Christine December 4, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    Thanks for this post, Stuart.
    I basically function as a single parent, even though I’m technically married. It stinks, and it’s hard, but you do what you have to do. I find it hard to not be resentful, though.

  4. The Domestic Goddess December 6, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    Well said. I can barely do this WITH a husband, can’t imagine having to do it alone. I have to give them SO MUCH CREDIT. It’s hard. But still an awesome life.

  5. Julie December 11, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    All I can say is….thank you. I REALLY needed to hear this today.

  6. Adam Behar December 14, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    Good points and you make them well! Glad to have found your blog.

  7. Sue August 7, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    Thank you for your understanding and emotional support. I really needed to hear this because I am a single mom and I’m at a point where I feel like I can’t keep doing everything anymore. I’ve been very negative today and your words ring very true. I’ll keep plugging away because it’s a slippery slope and once you start to slide, it can all go downhill fast. God bless those of you who are in a healthy marriage! šŸ™‚

  8. s October 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    I am a single mother with a 4 year old Autistic boy and I would like to thank you for writing this. My son’s dad lives in another state, has a new family of his own, and I have not had a single day off to myself in over four months. To say I am worn out is the understatement of the year.

    And yes, I have reached out for help, but very little of it exists. I have days when I honestly don’t know how I get through it all. The grace of God continuously lifts me and helps me.

    Although I don’t want to be a single mom for the rest of my life, I’ve had to learn to accept that this is how it might be for a very long time. It means the world to me when I stumble upon a blog like this. Thank you!!!!

  9. DeAnna February 19, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    I am newly single…Feeling sad for my son, and facing the prospect of returning the workforce as a single parent of a special needs child. I enjoyed your article and look forward to more, but wanted to say that I don’t know if the the “you can because you are” angle is very realistic. You said of yourself, “I know my limitations. I just can not juggle parenting and work and special needs issues and everything else entirely on my own. Iā€™d hit a breaking point eventually.”
    Maybe the people who say they want help know their limitations too, and see their own breaking point out in the future somewhere. The truth is, I have been a single parent for a long time. My recently departed husband reached his breaking point and split. Now I will go (back) to work too, and have all the same pressures PLUS a single parent…I only hope I don’t turn into my husband.

  10. Bill_0rly February 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    “there are so few single dads, and with good reason”

    …And what might that good reason be?

  11. Jill August 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    Thank you for writing this. šŸ™‚ it was a bright spot in my day, especially that you noticed and noted that not all “single parents” are w/o the other biological parent present. I have been ABSOLUTELY a single parent since my first son was about 2 months old (when the colic set in), and that was 4 years and 5+ months ago. However, I only separated from my sons’ father 6 months ago. It was incredibly hard and lonely being there with him. I feel for the single parents that feel devastated by the loss. I am sad that my sons never had the chance to really live with a real father in their childhood, but it at least made it easier for me to handle single parenting. I guess maybe I just went through the really hard adjustment early on, and it’s all I have ever known of parenting. I admit, in the beginning I was deeply devastated and depressed by the situation. But since leaving now, I’m no longer a single parent novice, and single parenting has gotten mostly easier since I moved back to my home state and no longer deal with daily emotional abuse. I am glad that is the case for me, because it leaves me wanting to continue flying solo until my kids are older rather than finding someone to help. Help would be nice, but I know that’s not what I need emotionally (being in a relationship), & I am glad that the prospect of help won’t tempt me. šŸ™‚ I enjoy my single parenthood. It’s absolutely not w/out its stress, but it’s the same as it has always been; except with more freedom and more laughter for the boys and I.

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