A handhold required from other single mums(34 Posts)
Readers of Relationships threads will know that my husband recently killed himself. He hadn't been very nice and I had a week prior thrown him out, so no personal loss to me (although the circumstances were awful and there was a horrendous betrayal) but I am struggling most with lone parenting.
I have three under 7. All have dealt with the death well. I'm still off work on CL but back in a couple of weeks. I have a high pressured job and am so worried about coping.
My 20 month old has been ill on and off for a fortnight now and I have been sleeping on a mattress on her floor. I am up for hours with her some nights and am struggling. I often go to another room to shout and swear at 2am and I have taken to loudly and unsympathetically 'shushing' her every time she makes a noise. I'm desperate to sleep and know I wouldn't normally get so irritated.
The five and seven year old (both boys) can be naughty and fight and I am on a shorter and shorter fuse with them. I find myself snapping at them unreasonably.
I have a great nanny but worry so much about going back to work and struggling on poor sleep. Plus I had often worked at home in the evenings and I feel like this is going to be harder when my daughter suddenly gets sick again.
Work will be understanding (they know all about the circumstances as H worked there too) and my nanny is going to stay over a couple of nights a week hopefully, but I'm already feeling strained. My salary is very high (and it needs to be now, more than ever) and I don't want to take the piss.
I find myself raging against dead twatty H in the middle of the night and obviously this doesn't help with sleep! Seeing an ace counsellor and that is helping but it feels bleak sometimes. I also have a really bad back from musical beds and this is exacerbating my irritability.
I guess I'd love to hear from other totally single mums with three who have come out the other side from the very young children days.
I can't imagine how hard things must be. You haven't got any resolution to the shitty behaviour, you've got to deal with it your children's grief and manage 100% of everything yourself.
Nothing will be easy or OK for a while, but it will get easier and more ok over time.
Would it not be easier to co- sleep? My youngest comes up to me in the night quite a bit. I used to dutifully take him back to his room, except we are on different floors and it meant me having to wake up more than I wanted to navigate the stairs. I then spent half the night awake as a result. So I gave in and taught him to get in with me - half the time I have no idea he is there. I get more sleep.
For me single-parenting is about survival. It means you might do parenting 'stuff' you would previously never have considered. Do what works. Change it when it stops working. Forget parenting rights and wrongs - if it works for you, it's right.
And be kind to yourself. It's a massive life change. Grumpiness is part of that. Don't let it worry you.
I only have one but my ex wasn't allowed him unsupervised from 6 weeks old... We lived together till DS was 10 months old...
It does get easier... It is finding routines and things that work for you...Can you have a nap while Nanny is their..At least catch up on some sleep..
You have a very complicated grief so I am glad you are getting help... With little ones it comes through very differently though the 5 and 7 year old fighting is normal...
Can you afford a cleaner take more pressure off yourself.. Try and get out the house ...It does you all good and stops the others messing up the house...
I can't imagine what you must be going through, and I have no words. But here to offer support.
The amazing thing about us mums, we get through it because we need to. Be kind to yourself, take care of yourself.
It's okay to hate him, just don't let it consume you.
I'm sorry for everything you're having to deal with. I would get as much help as you can - friends or family, paid help and probably worth asking GP/ health visitor too.
I only have one, but have an illness, and been going through an unpleasant divorce involving police. I have asked for help and found, on the whole, people are very glad to know something practical they can do.
It's probably not the right time for major life decisions but down the road a bit, is it worth exploring alternative options - different location, less high powered job, cheaper housing - whatever it might be.
In the meantime, whatever gets you through. X
You are dealing with so much I honestly can't imagine. Truly you should cut yourself some slack - these are incredibly difficult circumstances and I don't know if anyone who could deal with this and feel sane.
I am a single parent to two and sometimes it's bloody hard (like today with DD feverish and vomiting and trying to get her medicine without being able to leave the house) but these are just minor parenting niggles compared with the emotional shock you are in.
All I can say as a lone parent of 9 years standing is that I enjoy my life and we are a happy unit. You have that to look forward to but for now it must be a battle just to get through the day.
One thing I do is a lot of positive talk to myself. I achieve a lot (I also have a fairly stressy high powered sort of job) and I manage a lot at home and I tell myself I am doing a really impressive job. When you don't have a partner to support you (sounds like you didn't anyway) you need to be your own cheerleader, mentor and best friend.
OP, my husband died eighteen months ago leaving me with three DCs under ten. Life is still very hard but so much easier than it was. I wouldn't say we're out the other side, but it's not that clear cut anyway. We're constantly changing and adapting to it. Some days are still hell, but other days I feel so proud of what we have all achieved. The circumstances are very different - dh and I had a good relationship - but I empathise with the anger. The fury at being the one left behind to raise three bereaved kids alone... my eldest two bicker a lot and my dd was barely two when dh died and was cutting her molars, so I was up and down with that... Yes, we have come a long way... Cling on.
Just a thought... You've said you earn a good salary, which is obviously great, but have you also claimed everything you're entitled to? Widowed parents' allowance is not means tested (yet) and is what allows me to buy in extra help, babysitters etc. It's about £112 a week I think.
Hi there. Yes I get the widowed parents allowance although I think this is means tested in a sense as I have been told I will be taxed on it (heavily I suspect). But yes, got that and the one off two grand.
I think in time I will make bigger life changing decisions for sure, especially around work. I don't go back from compassionate leave until mid April and in some ways I am looking forward to the break! I also know I am very lucky in many ways as I have a fab nanny four days a week.
Easter has been hard and not much fun. I have found myself yelling and openly swearing and muttering about the youngest at night (over two weeks now of being up coughing and crying) in front of my eldest who has been sleeping in with me. Hate myself for it. Especially as H was such a shit parent. I always knew/thought I'd be a better parent without him. Of course, i'd envisaged a divorce scenario here, not this.
And thanks loads for the support messages. It all helps. I feel very desperate at the moment and I think it might be a combination of the youngest's illness and therefore whinging (All. The. Time; even getting out the house doesn't help as she just moans) and the novelty of being without him wearing off. Not that I'd want him alive again, but I really enjoyed the first two months knowing I don't have to deal with him again. Now I am very much aware I am alone now, properly alone, doing this with no respite. Lots of help from my parents, my nanny and friends though and plenty of people don't even have that so I need to have a word with myself.
What are you doing when you get a bit of help and don't have the DC? Would you find it easier to have someone stay with you for a bit to help?
Have you talked to anyone the way you are on here? It's very hard for all of you - and as a Lp ( ex lives abroad) it's all down to me. And occasionally I get irritated but I always apologise. I also bought the DC a massive trampoline to bounce on and I make tea a lot. I structured their time a bit more and we go swimming, walks, and keep going. Also bedtime is now a bit earlier.
Can you co sleep as suggested? You're being very hard on yourself IMO. Don't make any major decisions if you can help it. Thinking takes time and you have lots if of stuff messing with that thinking atm, iyswim.
Lots of physical activities helped for us, we where all worn out. Therefore decrease in fighting, lots of good quality sleep at night.
Agree with the co sleeping, dd1 just stopped eventually and stayed in her own bed after about six month of finding her in my bed halfway through each night.
Sorry not much else to add
Can you stretch to paying for your nanny or another one to do a few night shifts so you can crash out completely ? Even just a few nights will help get you back on track even if everything else is a struggle. Look on it as investment to getting you fighting fit for going back to work.
Don't be too independent take all the help offered while its there, you need the help to stay well mentally and physically for the long haul.
Agree with the suggestion of co sleeping and also to make sure lots of exercise for the children to get rid of excess energy. Other than that I think you need to cut yourself some slack and accept that things will be difficult and not perfect for a while and you just need to soldier on through it. If you are financially secure and have a support you are off to a good start - eventually it will become easier.
Yes I would love to co sleep but she doesn't really like it. What she likes is lying in her cot and having someone next to her on the floor. Am happy to do this normally if she randomly wakes as we both just nod straight back off, but atm she is waking up and crying / coughing every 30 mins or so, so it's not helping. I might try getting her in with me tonight and see if things have changed since the last time I tried.
I do tend to do things with them to tire them out but on rainy days it's hard. God, I sound self pitying!
My nanny has agreed to stay over two nights a week which will help although I rashly said I would still get up in the night! Going to have to retract that or no point.
A friend suggested yesterday having an au pair to mainly do evenings and still keeping our nanny. I can afford this (or will be able to when the cash comes through; there is a lot of uncertainty and hoop jumping there and I may post on it separately on the money/bereavement board). I hate myself for being shitty with the kids; have lapsed into swearing much more in front of them and being unreasonable and the poor little things have lost their dad. Then I apologise and say it's just a bit hard. I need to cut myself this slack for their sake.
It's also a lot more fine when the 20 m /o isn't sick. She won't have this forever. Have to keep hold of that!
Yes work is a life saver. Don't feel guilty about that. You never said you wanted sole care of three children day in day out. This has been thrust upon you and you need to find a way to do this in a way that works for you.
My life savers are work and help. Throw money at this if you can.
I think there's also something to be said for building fun foundations as a family. So when Dd is better and the weather is better, a bike ride, a picnic, a treasure hunt. You are a tribe and you can make that work for you.
Btw I grew up in a single parent family and we were a gang together. We were all on the same side rather than parents vs children and as a result we are still a really strong unit.
But for now don't expect too much. You are all grieving and in shock and adjusting. KOKO.
Please don't hate yourself. Your life just turned on its head.
My only other suggestion is nipping to somewhere like dreams or argos even & picking up a single bed/ props gold out bed so you can properly sleep next to DD & feel well rested.
You sound like a strong woman & you have my greatest respect.
Your kids love you, you stuck around for them. Be your own champion!
You are doing your best & that's brilliant x
Thanks Fox. Already have a decent mattress on the floor and thank God for that! I feel a bit brighter now we are all up and dressed. I just have to keep saying 'it will improve' and 'it will all be ok ' xx
OP, I get days like that and feel just as awful as you described. I think any strain, be it mental, emotional or physical, makes us start to crack a bit. For me it's physical because I have multiple sclerosis and feel so unwell a lot of the time. It makes me short tempered and I hate myself for it. But in the rare gaps I feel physically better, everything else is much more cope-able too, and I become a sweeter persons for it. If I get in to get sweary and short tempered I have to take a step back and see that I'm under a terrible strain that is above and beyond the norm, just like you are at the moment (but obviously for different reasons).
I find that my sweary moments have a bit of a theme, like when I am running late, and they do the usual poo on the way out the door, spilt drink when there's not enough time to drag myself upstairs and find a change of clothes, mucking about when they should be cleaning teeth and settling into bed, all normal stuff but the sort of thing that makes me feel mad when I don't feel ok! Knowing this helps me to forward plan and buy myself more time so these little incidents don't become so overwhelming. I can really sympathise without over sleep deprecation because it is a form of torture and it sounds like you've got enough torture to deal with already.
You're right to hang on to the fact that your 20 month old will regain health and therefore stop coughing at night, and overall the shock and trauma you've been through will begin to settle and consolidate, and you will find yourself emerging through it all. Make life as easy for yourself as you can, and it sounds like you need to spend a huge part of your money to buy physical help so you can get much needed support and rest, just for this time (especially as it sounds from what you say as though you can afford it?).
In a perverse way your description of how you are and how bad you feel, makes me feel a bit better because I've lived under a similar guilt, and it's horrible, isn't it? But someone once said that the very fact it bothers me proves I am a good parent, because bad parents wouldn't care at all. So what I'm trying to say is we would all be kinder to ourselves I think. Sometimes life's a real struggle and we don't do every thing perfectly, but we can only keep realigning ourselves with where we want to be and head in the right direction. But above all, be patient with yourself!
Thanks This. I'm sorry you are going through something shit. I agree that watching out for pressure points is a good idea. I know what mine are: whinging, messiness, fighting.
And yes, a shit parent wouldn't reflect on the kind of job they are doing at all!
and to you and everyone who has responded so far x
My mom was a single parent to 3 - I'm sure we drove her nuts at times with the fighting - but that's not what I remember - relieved that she left dad, happy that we didn't have to tip toe ion egg shells or listen to fighting - we didn't have any money - but we had each other made up games laughed a lot helped each other - we helped around the house because we had to -
We never felt lesser people for it - it changed our lives for the better and I'm glad my mom did what she did!
In case it helps to hear... You are AMAZING! It sounds like you are doing the most incredible job. Of COURSE you are groaning and swearing. You are in the middle of your own personal hell. Keep going, you are a hero. And get a babysitter 7.30pm - 11pm one night and just go to sleep leaving the sitter to deal (probably much more kindly) with whingy DD
24 hours in a hotel (with spa?), if someone can look after the dcs?
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