PARENTS

The Semi-Detached Parent: You Mean I Am NOT The Only One?

17/09/2012 14:19 | Updated 22 May 2015
Single mother kissing son goodbye at schoolAlamy

The week before we broke up for the summer holidays, I had parents' evening at school.

Though 'I' of course should be 'we' as my son obviously has two parents.

I arrived early, and my son's form tutor had finished his last appointment early and tried to usher me into his room.

I felt my cheeks blush scarlet as I explained I had to 'wait for W's father'.

'Ah, yes, of course,' the teacher replied.

I slunk off back down the corridor, yet again feeling feckless and embarrassed about my 'status'.

Later, in the meeting – a meeting conducted in stony silence between me and my son's father whilst the sweet teacher spoke enthusiastically and animatedly about our son – the issue of our family set-up was raised, albeit opaquely.

I am hyper-sensitive to the school knowing about how we live: always concerned that living between two houses will somehow be detrimental to my son's school life; that things will get left behind at the 'other house', that due-in homework will be miles away, the wrong sports' kit will be in school, the right one wet on the 'other' washing line.

Assured that there have been no problems of this nature, and that all was well, I still found myself blurting out my fears that at some point my son's fragmented start in life will come back to bite us all on the bum: that he will become the stereotypical child from a broken home.

I have written about this before. It is a constant worry that this placid, seemingly well-balanced, polite, delightful little boy, will, eventually become the rampaging out of control monster that society expects of children who live with just one parent.

His teacher assured me he did not think that was my son's path in life, that he was obviously well supported at home, and that he had good friends in school – and, he revealed, that there were 'other children' and 'other families' in similar situations to ours.

This really surprised me. I honestly had no idea. We are a very small school, I know – or thought I knew - of only one other 'broken' family on the roll.

The following day I was eyeing everyone up in the playground. Who else could be living the same life as me? Constantly rowing over childcare, access, finances, property? Everyone around me looked so normal, kissing their children goodbye, and going off to work.

Probably just like I looked to everyone else. Which makes me think this 'stigma' of mine is totally self-induced.

Do you feel like this as a single parent?

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