PARENTS

The Semi-Detached Parent: Holiday Childcare

12/05/2011 23:08 | Updated 22 May 2015
The Semi-Detached Parent: Holiday childcareGetty Images

Over the Easter holidays, my son spent six days being looked after by his dad. I had been looking forward to this time, as I had lots of work on, and lots of housework that needed seeing to. A few days in, and I was hating it. I don't know HOW I am going to cope when this is a permanent weekend on/weekend off arrangement. Eight months ago I wrote about how tough it was when he went to France for 10 days; I have only been apart from him for odd nights here and there since, and I guess I must have forgotten just how awful I'd found that week and a half last year.

This time round, the first couple of days were great. I got lots done, saw my friends, went out for lunches and dinners and drinks. Then the Bank Holiday weekend came, and all my married-with-children friends were going off to see grandparents and other relies, or going away for a mini-break.

I had a couple of bbq invites, which I declined as I couldn't face turning up to a family and children-filled party on my own. Another friend invited me to go stay with her for the weekend; again, I made an excuse as the thought of having to do 'family things' with someone else's family was just too much to deal with. I came to the conclusion that all I really wanted was to be with my family.

For various reasons - geographical, personal, undefinable – this was never going to happen. And that bothers me a lot because it is yet another element of 'normal family life' that my son misses out on; he doesn't get the big family bbqs and garden parties that his friends seem to have every weekend throughout the summer, or the camping trips with cousins and uncles and aunties and grannies and grandads and legions of hangers on. He doesn't even get a picnic in the park with his mum and dad.

I got a pep talk from one of my best friends on Bank Holiday Monday. A normal phone call turned into a bit of a meltdown; I was suddenly consumed by the fact I never wanted a life like this for my child. It was a boiling hot day, one that should have been spent outdoors, eating ice cream, enjoying things, and I was sat in a cafe working, whilst my son was off somewhere else. It just wasn't right.

As I huffed and puffed (ok, then, sobbed) about not wanting to be a single mother, or have a child grow up in a broken home, my lovely friend soothed and consoled and told me that my son was doing just fine and would grow up just fine because he was loved, wanted and well cared for.

Whilst she is probably right, it didn't stop the awful, burning ache, the searing need just to be with him.

Will this EVER get any easier? Or is single parenting just one problematic learning curve after another?

What do you think? At what point did you feel you COULD cope as a single parent?

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