About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Long Distance Mother By Holly Searle




I have often wondered over the last three decades what it must be like to not be a single parent. After raising two children on my lonesome, it's hard to envisage what having another person there to have supported me upon this journey would have been like.

Do couples with children ever think what it must be like to raise children without their other half?

I wonder if they ever ponder the prospect except in dire circumstances.

But let me tell you this. Being a single parent is both rewarding and heartbreaking in equal measures. For the parent it means that you are alone in making all of the choices for your child. There is no one else to sound off too, or ask their opinion of. It's just you working it all out and winging it for the most part with your fingers crossed and your eyes squeezed tightly together whilst whispering a little prayer to whoever might be listening that the choices you are making are correct.

And then there is the financial implications. One wage is never enough to cover all of the bases. You struggle for years in a vain attempt to make all of the ends meet and that the provision of the basics are available. But holidays are not a reality that you can envisage. That is not a priority in your annual agenda. It is something that is just not doable.

But for the parent the most upsetting aspect is the loneliness of being an adult and not having another adult to do stuff with. To be able to secure that for yourself and balance it with your role as the parent of a child or children who come first, is almost impossible, or so it would seem.

I have tried over the years to find a mate. But the issues this raises are complex and difficult to navigate. Juxapositioning a long established relationship against a fledgling one is problematic especially if that other person either has no children of their own, or, as is more often the norm, has children who are only intermittently in their life.

Parenting happens on a daily basis. It's made up of a litany of tiny repetitive mundane domestic episodes, familiarity and an established set of routines. There is no handbook for you to refer your prospective partner too for them the gain an overview and insight of your day to day life with your kith and kin.

I love children. I am intrigued by kids and their outlook on life and what interests them. When I meet the children of friends or relatives, I bridge a communication gap with them by trying to discover what it is that makes them tick. Kids are great as they have no hidden agenda, they are just themselves. They are more honest with their feelings than adults are as they have yet to swim in the pool of life and become a little tainted in the process.

And here lies the rub: if your partner cannot establish a relationship with your child or children, then the relationship that you had hoped for may never grow.

By all means find time to do things as a couple, that is really important for both of you. As a single parent you deserve to have someone for yourself. It is a must that you find and invest time in interests outside of your parental role. One day your chicks will fly away, and when they do, and although you will still be an important part of their life, they will have their own lives to manoeuvre around and new relationships to make: and you will be left to your own devices. But if your partner wants you to make them more important than your child or children, that is never going to happen. If that person enters into a relationship with you, then they must understand that they are going to have to make relationships with you and yours.

It's the most exhausting and quite frankly heartbreaking aspect of trying to establish a relationship outside of your single parent status whilst still being a parent. It can combine joy and pain. At times you will feel as though you are trying to keep everyone apart from yourself happy. You want to have it all: the security of the relationship as well as the well-being of your offspring. It's a logistical nightmare.

To welcome someone into your life with open arms to be met with a critique of your child or children is not acceptable. As a mother you have carried that child, given birth to them and then nurtured and protected them ever since. So you are not about to stand by and entertain the input from someone who isn't their natural parent. Yes as individuals they may have their own idiosyncratic and imperfect patterns of behaviour. But can the prospective partner honestly stand on their soap box and offer their opinion on your relationship with your child or children without first wondering if they are in a position to do so?

Where is the qualifications gained for this speakers corner insight I wonder in comparison to your wealth and knowledge about your own flesh and blood?

There is no comparison. In the end it's more likely that the prospective partner has some of their own unresolved issues as well as being inflicted by a touch of the green-eyes monster when they realize to the detriment of their ego, that they have to share you with other people.

It's a shame when it doesn't all workout and your secret wish to form a new family outside of the norm fails to take root. People end up feeling left out and frustrated and you just end up feeling sad.

To enable a successful union, the best foot forward would be to acknowledge what you have and what your expectations are. It's like training for a race: you need to train and to understand that it takes time and that a period of adjustment will have to be observed before all the pieces of the puzzle fit together to form a suitable picture that you are all happy with.

To enable that, my advice to any prospective partners would be although you are having a relationship with the parent, invest heavily in the offspring. If this is going to be a long term relationship they are going to be a long term part of your life as much as you are theirs. You have secured the love of their parent, so you need to prove to them that you deserve it. You need to gain their respect and by showing them that you are a fully formed and respectable human being. Why would their parent choose you they might wonder? What do you have that makes you good enough to earn their parent's love? Are you good enough to be the person to take care of their parent? How are you going to prove to them that you the wonderful human being that you think you are?

It's like a maze I know, but so is being a single parent: and if I, and millions of others can hit the ground running and produce well rounded individuals without any prior knowledge, then so can you.

It's all about the application and the extent and quality of your participation in the end, just like life.

All relationships are hard work. They are especially so if you are a parent seeking a partner. Or a partner seeking a partner who happens to be a parent.

If you truly love and respect the parent, all the training you put in will pay off in the end.

And you'll be a winner.


3 comments:

CC said...

I love this blog

Liz Clinch said...

Excellent piece. I'm not a single parent and my child has long ago flown the nest but I couldn't have imagined parenting without Dave...especially when my son became ill which was very testing.
I take my hat off to all single parents. I'm sure it can be very lonely and although you love your children more than your own life there is always a need at various times for adult company.
What is a constant whether you are in a relationship or not is the fact that your children are the most important thing in your life and even when they are married and have children of their own you still worry about them, want to cuddle them ( I have to be very careful I don't overstay the hugs) and burst with pride whenever you see them or talk with them.
After all they are what you made them!

Sam Lewis said...

Good to see you writing again xx