When I was younger I distinctly remember thinking that one of the reasons why I would not want to have children is because the man always gets to walk away, whether it be going to work, out with their friends or just leaving altogether.
Perhaps it was because I watched my mum raise my brothers and I whilst my Dad was absent a lot. He was a great provider and worked long hours commuting daily as well as having many interests which meant some evenings and almost one day every weekend he was out.
I saw my mum reliant on the housekeeping allowance Dad provided for the weekly groceries and to buy the clothes we needed, I saw her tired, busy and always putting her children’s needs first. Perhaps this is why I have always been fiercely independent and determined to provide for myself without needing anyone.
I didn’t want the responsibility of children, I didn’t want to lose my independence and I didn’t want to feel resentment about being left at home alone to look after a child. I felt it was unfair to expect a mother to do everything as a child has two parents whom should share responsibility of their offspring. I held these beliefs from a very young age so I find it quite ironic that I am now in the position my younger self dreaded so much.
Since becoming a single mum, I have connected with many other women doing it solo and the stories we share resonate and what becomes clear is the bond and strength we automatically give to each other.
My own personal experience is not isolated, sadly, in today’s society it seems to be the norm. I know of fathers who are living in different countries to their children, I know of mums who are struggling to get their children’s fathers to contribute towards their upbringing. I know of parents who are battling for support and shared custody.
Why is this acceptable? When did it become ok for a parent to walk away and abandon their child? The answer is it isn’t. It seems society shrugs their shoulders and accepts that the man of the house can leave. It seems that it’s ok for men to put their careers and their personal hobbies and interests first in front of parenthood. Yet if the mother leaves or pushes for her independence it seems to be taboo.
There needs to be a shift towards a better work life balance from both parents’ perspectives so families can enjoy more time together without worrying about childcare or earning enough to cover the bills. The more important ‘job’ you ever have as a parent is to raise your child, be there for your child and guide them through life.
This is not a dig at men or a stand for feminism, it’s a shout at society to open their eyes and see that the ones that truly miss out in a one parent family are the children.