How do I manage? Alone.
Let me narrate a few pages from my life. When I was in an abusive relationship, I had to do almost everything for my child, all by myself. Dropping and picking him up from school, paying the school fees, preparing his lunch/snacks/dinner, taking him son out to play, to museums, and parks. So I was pretty sure, I would be able to manage everything by myself. But when dark clouds started to lurk around, then began the thunderstorm in my life, that people call separation. Reality struck me so hard that I froze when it came to my responsibilities.
I was energy, sleep and time deprived, and couldn’t release my stress anywhere else. I couldn’t get angry with my son, because deep down, I knew it was not his fault. I did not want to show my frustration to my parents, because in my opinion, they did not have a strong enough heart to bear the failure in my life or to deal with the guilt of leading me to it. All the pent up anger, frustration and anxiety dragged me down and shook my entire belief system and immunity.
Finally, I succumbed to the bitter truth. I needed help. I realized even married mothers need others’ help. We need as many well-wishers around us as possible. Not simply one helpful partner, but many more people in our day to day lives. I am still the one that needs to have stamina to get through 365 days of parenting. But others can help too.
Alone? No one is alone in this world. Literally and metaphorically. We are all interdependent for food, clothing, shelter, education and much more on our society. Similarly, parenting cannot be handled alone. With or without a partner, we are dependent on our family, friends, and the community. One might say “I am completely independent. I can manage on my own. I do not need anyone”. In all likelihood, they keep one person or a group of people in mind when they say “anyone”.
So, I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I wrote this down on a piece of paper: “All my troubles are due to me being a single mom”, and tore it into a bazillion pieces and flushed it down the toilet.
I stopped thinking about “If only” scenarios. If only I was more observant of his abusive patterns, if only I had stayed in the old place itself, if only the relationship had worked out for the better, if only I had said ‘no’ to the alliance in the first place, etc. Whenever I would drift away to these “If only” scenarios, I forced myself (still do) to get up, wash my face, brush my teeth, and re-start the moment with morning freshness.
I started talking to other moms, single and married, and carefully observed which ones I could be friends with, and who I could rely on for external help like leaving the house keys for the maid, who I could ask to pick my son up if I wasn’t able to make it.
I started to read more books and articles on how other single parents manage responsibilities and still stay sane.
Finally, I reminded myself that what my son is going through is a rite of passage that he has to go through and this will change over time. I did not cause it, and that I couldn’t have prevented it. My past is what made me the person I am today, and being an unhappy parent can be as harmful to a child as raising them in an abusive environment.