As parents we all crave that little bit of 'me' time - enjoy a few stolen moments doing something we enjoyed before you took responsibility of a small person. To some there's no such thing as too much 'me' time. Spring has loads of potential with bank holidays galore. Sounds perfect... unless you're experiencing your first bank holiday as a single parent. Those familiar with my previous posts will know I have a friend negotiating her new life as a 'lone' parent. I stress 'lone' because the ex-other half would laugh in the face of anyone who suggest he parent more than he can get away with. Currently stuck in mediation 'purgatory' progressing through a system so slow and tedious it makes a snail resemble Usain Bolt. The road to divorce, legal intervention and justice for a child who wants the time they deserve from both parents is the most frustrating process I've ever witnessed. This isn't meant to be a 'pity post', far from it - I hope I am highlighting the real darkness that can be overlooked when trying to help those in this situation.
The CBeebies bedtime song has long been a victory for me (like i'm sure it is for many far and wide), but when you're doing it alone it's a bit of a curse... YES you survived another day, but once your child is asleep (hopefully without too many choruses of 'I want mummy and daddy back together') you face a silent house and a glorified form of house arrest where the previously simple tasks of nipping to the shop, going out for a walk or Domino's not offering delivery in your area are actual first world problems.
Of course you have friends who can help in these situations - but what part of 'surviving' and 'doing it alone' is that? Even with all the friends, family and colleagues in the world, bedtime equals social lock-down and a bit more time to think about everything.
Now enter the bank holidays - a single parent's bold and italic version of what is now every other night. That 'family' based occasion you dread to attempt alone that rubs salt in your still freshly wounded family.
My friend would want me to stress that aside from the initial split - it has been these weekends that she has found hardest. These have been the time that reality has truly hit. It's not from neglect or lack of social functions to go to (far from it) but she now feels the inadvertent third wheel at events by no choice of her own and to no fault of those around her (who want her there more than anything).
It's simply a stark reminder of what you have lost and what others still have. Sounds petty and childish but IT ISN'T FAIR. Of course it is all part of the process and as each public holiday comes and goes it will get a bit easier, but if I have learnt one thing from my friend's experience, it is that she is by no means the minority (far from it) but there seems to be very little to no support out there for newly single parents or their children. With two more bank holidays before we hit the hell that is Christmas - maybe we could all try and dedicate them to trying something different with those experiencing extreme change? Steer away from the traditional, make some new memories that can overshadow the past and make that home alone time a little less hellish!