I did something awful last week. I can see NOW that it was awful, and, if I'm honest, I knew at the time it was awful. But it was also (at the moment I did it) necessary and done entirely out of need.
I made my son come home from a sleepover because I was lonely.
Actually, I was more than lonely. I was heartbroken, inconsolable, and feeling like I had nothing and no one in the world.
Having spent much of the day thrashing out access arrangements with my son's dad, and trying to get my head round the fact that from here on in, once my ex's new house is ready, I am not going to have my little boy from Friday to Monday every other week, and no doubt a couple of week nights too, suddenly became too much. I just needed to be with him. So I texted the mother of the boy he was staying with and said I needed to come and pick him up because of a problem at home.
The minute the text left my phone I KNEW I had done the wrong thing, but there was no going back then.
I collected him with my head down, embarrassed and unable to make eye contact with the other mum, but no doubt looking to her and her husband a total failure as both a parent and an adult with my swollen, tear-stained face and puffy eyes. I told my son on the drive home I was feeling unwell and did not want to be in the house on my own, which he accepted and was totally fine with, even revelling somewhat in the 'responsibility' of being the 'man of the house'. But that made me feel even worse. I had forced responsibility onto him and been completely selfish by ruining his evening just because I felt so low and fed up and lonely.
So the smidgen of relief I felt at having my son home with me, chirping away in the kitchen as I made us hot chocolate and plated up biscuits, was somewhat overridden by the horrible icy twist of guilt that turned in my stomach as I knew, yet again, I'd forced adult problems onto a child's shoulders. Something I constantly tell myself – and others – can never, ever, be justified, yet something I seem to keep on doing.
Parenting, especially single-parenting is so bloody hard sometimes. But right now, I just feel I need to treasure every moment I have with my child. Even if, to do that, I don't always make the right decisions or do the right thing.