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I’m a single mom now

I was up for most of the night with my son who had the stomach flu.  You know what that means... yup, we're all going to go down with it in this household.  My only hope is that I have been exposed to this particular bug before so will have some immunity in place.  I can deal with helping my children when they are sick, but it's never good when I become incapacitated due to an illness.  It is at times like this when it really hits home and I realize that in a single parent family, it doesn't take all that much to upset the balance that is required to keep everything rolling along smoothly.I'm a single mom now

There are millions of people worldwide that are single parents, in fact, I might even be so bold as to suggest that this is more the norm than the exception now.  Divorce is common and the traditional idea of what a family looks like has undergone tremendous re-definition in recent decades. But this post isn't about divorce or even families, it's about how Domestic Violence impacts single moms.

I have friends who are divorced parents and even the ones that don't like each other manage to co-parent fairly well.  There may be frequent disagreements but I think the reason they are able to support each other is because both parents have their kids' best interest as first priority. I'm not saying that abusers don't care about their children, I'm saying that abusers have issues around power and control and that means that they are in the place of first priority.

Maybe I'm not expressing this well, let me try again:  I can't rely on my kids' father to come through in a pinch.  I can't text him and ask him to pick the kids up from school or keep them an hour longer and I certainly couldn't ask him to switch his access weekend because there's a course I want to take -  We don't have that kind of relationship.  There isn't any give and take because that would mean compromise.

As a single parent I am the adult in the home and it is my responsibility to meet the needs of my children.  I need to make sure that they have clean clothes, that they get their homework done and that our home is stable,  and so on.  It would be nice to be able to pick up the phone and have a civil conversation with my ex about what is going on with the kids but that doesn't happen.  I definitely can't pick up the phone and ask for his help.  I'm not bitter; I'm a survivor and there is a very big difference.  I have learned what works and what doesn't, I have learned precautions I can take to keep the conflict at a minimum and I have learned that I can't trust him to come through for me or the children.  I have modified my desires and expectations to reflect the reality that I married an abusive man.  I'm not blaming him but neither am I excusing him, it's just how it is and I can't change him.

Ultimately, as a single mom who has come out of an abusive marriage, it isn't the sleepless nights spent with vomiting children that most saps my strength, rather it is the residue left by Domestic Violence - it is the living within the cycle of abuse that means that even if things are smooth today I know by experience that he will soon begin escalating and that I will have to be on extra alert for whatever may come my way.  I don't have any control over his behaviour, all I can do is use the tools I have learned to keep myself safe. And hope that with time his focus will differ and eventually his need to control every aspect of our interaction will ebb, as he realizes that I am no longer in his scope of power.

Post-script: I want to be clear. 1 in Four is not anti-father and certainly not anti-men. We are anti-abuse and pro-support for women who have experienced Domestic Violence.

(For some stats on single parent families, check out this Fact Sheet on Canadian Single-Parent Families )

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About cjw

A mother of three and a survivor of domestic violence, I am passionate about helping women who feel isolated and alone, women who may have children that are profoundly impacted by the trauma of domestic violence and women who need to understand where they can go to get help for themselves and their families. I am a registered nurse who has worked for the last 16 years in a critical care area only to have to flee to a women’s shelter and have my whole life changed. I know fear, I know pain and I now know food banks…I’m in good company.

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One Response to I’m a single mom now

  1. S.S. October 17, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    I have no children, however, I have friends who are single mom’s and I have cared for children before, and while those two things are on totally different scales, I can say I have some understanding of how difficult and tough it would be to be a single mom. Let alone, being a parent, period!
    I hope your son is back to good health now and HOPEFULLY, the rest of you got off lucky and don’t get it 🙂
    My observation as a friend of single moms is that it’s incredibly tough, however, these women seem to power through and sometimes it’s a good run, and sometimes, it’s “hell”. I have seen families where there is a loving mommy and daddy and the children are well cared for and sometimes, the children are abused or not living the best life. My point is just that it doesn’t matter who you are, how many of you raise a child or what you have or don’t have… a child can still be raised well as there are supports out there (and I know that’s not always easy to access or utilize etc. but I’m just sayin’…) and a child who has a loving parent(s) who do thier best and make sure thier child gets what they need and makes sure they get to ‘be a kid’, will be successful in raising thier children/child or at least succeed at being good parent. At some point children grow up to make thier own choices and learn through others. Another point, just because you grow up in a ‘good’ family, doesn’t mean you will be better off. and vice versa. Our family is our foundation on which we are built, and by family I mean those who each of us deems family ie loved ones, can be family or friends or teachers… those who were/are an impact on our lives and care about us. Isn’t that the jidst of the definition of family ? 🙂
    I think a single father or mother, is better than two parents who fight and can’t give a child a better life. It’s not ideal, no but, it’s the best choice of the two, I think.

    That’s my blurb on this topic. Just wanted to share that and hope single parents give them selves credit from time to time 🙂

    Thanks!

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