27/08/2012 22:19 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

The Semi-Detached Parent: A Single Parenting Fail

The Semi-Detached Parent: A single parenting fail Alamy

I remember having a conversation about motherhood with a friend when we were teenagers. I told her I was far too selfish and disorganised to have a baby. I would, I said 'probably tidy it away in a cupboard and forget to feed it'.

I was reminded of that when I committed a monumental parenting fail this weekend. Actually, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't THAT bad, but I was still left feeling ridiculously guilty and that I had failed to adhere to a very basic parental obligation. And obviously this was entirely down to the fact I am a single mother and trying to do the job of two people...

After a mega-working week, and all my usual angst and upset over childcare, I admit I was not in the best of moods by Sunday.

Our weekends are always busy and stressy: full of housework and domestics that can't get done during the week; supermarket shops, errand running, but I always, without fail, make sure we sit down and have a lovely Sunday lunch.

Sometimes we will go out exploring and find somewhere nice to have it, or just wander round to our local pub or cook at home. But we always do it.


It is something – given that I only have my son every other Sunday – that I stick to. A bit of routine and tradition in our chaotic lives.


But this weekend was one of those occasions where the balance of everything tipped. The house was in an even worse state than it usually is by the end of the week; the garden looked like a jungle; bits of the house were breaking off and falling down; everywhere I looked there was mess and rubbish and just a general state of disrepair.

And it was just all too much. I had one of those red-mist moments of 'I just can't cope with this any more'.

But totally fuelled by rage that I had inherited so much crap to deal with, I tried to deal with it.

I attempted to sort the lawn out, but the mower would not work. I tried to glue and nail all the broken bits of this and that, but it looked like someone from Cowboy Builders had been in to do it. Everything I tried to make better just seemed to end up completely and utterly worse.


And I totally lost my temper with it all.


Now, my poor son, having helped at various stages of the manic DIY and tidying session, took himself off to his room to escape my ranting and raging. I went back out into the garden, gave the mower a final kick of desperation with the plan to put it away and head out either to the supermarket to replenish the cupboards to cook a meal, or to the pub for lunch. But my kick obviously dislodged something which was stuck in the rotary blade because it suddenly started. Hurrah. Mood somewhat lifted I spent the ensuing three hours trying to make the back garden look less like the local waste ground.

Job done, I wandered back into the house and cheerily told my son it was all sorted and I was no longer Big Scary Mummy.

"I was going to come and get you," he said, nervously, "But as you were in such a bad mood I thought it best to leave you alone."
"Why?" I asked, "What's up?"
"I'm starving," he said, lip wobbling slightly.

And I looked at the clock. Five pm. My kick start of the lawn mower had happened bang on the time we would have usually disappeared for our lunch. And in my fury I had forgotten all about it. My child had gone without Sunday lunch. The one thing I try to keep routine and nice and as something to look forward to. I had starved and neglected him. Just as I predicted I would all those years ago.

But on the plus side, the garden was at least usable again.

What is your single-parenting-fail guilty secret?