I’ve been asked on more than one occasion (ok, read: I get asked ALL.THE.TIME) which is easier: being a single parent or being a married parent. I’ve been both and in opposite order than most. The people that ask are also usually the ones that have their own answer already so typically they’re surprised by my response. Why they ask me then, only Heaven knows.
Anyway, my answer? Neither.
You can’t just add up the pros and the cons of each and magically come up with the perfect solution to the problem. Somedays being a single parent rocks. Somedays I plead with the world to not take Caleb away. Literally. Please let me keep him forever. Do you hear that?! Ok, thanks. Just making sure.
I started my adult life as a single mom. Now yes I had help, tremendous amounts of help, so I never really felt certain aspects that I know other single parents do. But Caleb did, so I like to think I have some expertise on the topic.
Being a single parent** means you make all the decisions when you have your child (I have full custody of Jack- but Caleb has joint). I named him exactly what I wanted, I chose what school he went to, the style of clothes he wore, the activities he participated in, etc. That is great. No one to try and work to find a compromise. You just do what you see fit and off you go. Want to go away for the weekend? Ok, enjoy! Want to do pizza for dinner? Sounds perfect! ….You get the idea.
Another pro for single parenting is you get them all to yourself! Selfish. Yes. Probably. But I loved all the time we spent together, the dates we went on, hearing about all the best & worst parts of his day.
But the downsides can be hard. You show up to family functions- well single. Unless you have a great support system, you don’t get a break. It can be exhausting. Round the clock. No break. Constant children. No one to even talk to about the struggle or worries. Sitting in a hospital room alone, can easily bring any person down real fast. Trust me, I had lots of those days and nights. Money, that’s another whole post in itself. Money is scary when it’s just you providing for a little person.
Being a married parent? Well that is awesome, too! There’s always someone that has your back and can help with the loads of work that come with parenting. I have never doubted Caleb’s intentions with our family or his desire to be 100% present. He’s amazing and I’m lucky to parent with him every day.
But…. it isn’t all rainbows and puppy dogs either. Things have settled down into a nice rhythm now, but it wasn’t always that way. When we first started dating and knew we were serious about us becoming a family, there were so many conversations about “how do you do this” or “what do you think about that” and “how do we make this work when you do it this way and I do it that way”. It was so hard. Both of us were used to do just doing our thing and the kids were each used to doing it that parent’s way. The no need to ask someone about something? Gone.
Now. Not every family may do this, but we base our parenting off mutual respect for each previous familial situation. We need to. We needed to honor where our kids came from and who they are as people. As young as they were, we didn’t want to rock the boat.
That was all before Harvey. Since Harv has come we are still working on the “how do you do this” conversations and learning to balance having a baby around and still honoring those previous life experiences, but still finding compromises. And I know I can take a shower or run to the store when I need, that’s a pretty great bonus 😉
There isn’t a really good answer. My reasoning may be different, but I’m sure others agree (unless their spouse was a thumbs down, well then rock on single parents!). I’ll still take married parenting any day though, because I’m not giving up Caleb.
**FYI I was a single parent that was not previously married. I did not co-parent Jack. After years being with Caleb, I have a different view on co-parenting and being single while co-parenting. Trust me it’s not the same type of single parenting. You may be single, but you are not a single parent. There are lots of different rules in the co-parenting game.