‘It takes a village to raise a child’. I feel the truth, and sometimes pain of this a lot.
I’m definitely feeling the loss of my village. I think really I’m feeling the loss of having a partner with me, a person that I’m supposed to be sharing this wildly unknown, emotional, difficult new journey with.
I appreciate those who support me more than words can say, I really do. It’s still different though. It isn’t without guilt when I ask them for help, or without reminding me that I am a single mum.
I’m a single parent. I’m living through a pandemic. Those two phrases bear so much weight, they are two big and scary journeys on their own. Saying to myself ‘I’m a single parent, during a pandemic’ I feel a little burst of nervous laughter internally trying to escape. How on earth did this even happen?
I am though. This is my life, and fuck am I feeling it.
I haven’t had enough sleep for so many months now that I’m feeling it awfully on a physical level too, not just mentally. My back ache has crossed the line from an ache to real, intense pain. My back crunches when I move sometimes, and sometimes I shudder involuntarily from the pain when I’m putting my daughter in her cot at night. I almost feel like I’m forcing my back past where it wants to go – but what can I do? There is no one there to ask to help me, so I bite my tongue and cope with the pain.
My entire body aches, the glands in my throat are swollen, my throat sore. Couple this with the fatigue of being a new parent, during a pandemic? I started to think I had Covid, duh. I got myself tested last week and, of course, it was negative. These are ‘just’ the feelings of physical exhaustion.
The worst thing? I was actually gutted that I didn’t have Covid. At least Covid would have passed soon.
I get headaches, and I’m suffering from regular vertigo. Vertigo, for those who don’t know, is when the room spins around you. You know when you’re really drunk, and you can’t lie down without the room spinning, and it makes you feel sick and disoriented? That’s vertigo. I’m popping pain killers like sweeties some days.
I do have amazing support in person from my mum, and a friend of mine. I know damn well I would be far more burnt out without this, but I still feel the loss of someone who is actually supposed to be in this with me.
I feel the loss at some of the toughest times, or doing some of the regular things that need to be done, both with my little one and every day things.
I feel the loss at night, and I don’t even mean someone to take a night shift so I can rest. I mean someone to hold my hand when I’m crying at 1am, 3am, 5am on a nightly basis because she has woken. Someone to remind me that when she cries for an hour or more straight because she’s teething, and I can’t soothe her or get her to sleep, it is not my fault, I don’t need to feel guilty, I’m not a failure.
I regularly wake in the morning feeling still so alone, so desperate for adult conversation, that I check my mum and friends statuses on facebook messenger routinely waiting for someone to be awake to talk to.
It’s someone to take over on bathing her in the evening, so I don’t have to lean over the side and feel like my back is breaking. Or to put her in her cot so I don’t have to bite my tongue with the pain.
It’s being able to actually have a bath to ease the pain, because there is someone to go to her if she wakes whilst I’m in it, and I won’t have to risk jumping out making the pain worse.
Or even someone to take over on the bills or budgeting. I have a list of bill related phone calls to make that I could count on both hands, but it is so hard to make them with a baby around. Or someone to help plan the weekly meals, cook dinner on occasion, or just go to the shop for me. The tasks I have to do are constantly weighing me down, the mental exhaustion from that too is shit.
The idea of a lie in actually makes me feel emotional. The thought of waking up at the regular time, between 5 and 6am, and even once hearing someone say ‘you rest, I’ll get her’ literally brings tears to my eyes sometimes.
It’s wanting to sometimes feel like I’m human too, and I matter, at the times where I’m feeling the most fragile and exhausted.
Being a single parent is fucking lonely. It’s crazy how bringing another life into the world can make you feel so alone.
On top of the this – parents everywhere are feeling the impact of the pandemic.
Not being able to see friends or family, or visit other parents who can relate to the troubles. I’m thankful that as a single parent I get to bubble with my friend and her little family. I feel like I would be completely barking mad without being able to visit them. Still I know that I, and many (all?) parents are feeling the loss of not seeing friends and family.
Baby groups, support groups, parent meet-ups? Largely cancelled, and those that are running are virtual. Meeting a group of new people over zoom is definitely not the same as meeting them in person. It feels much harder to juggle a baby over a zoom video call, and it’s so hard to make a connection with anyone when you can’t make direct contact, or see each others body language, or even tell who is looking at who.
I expected to be at so many baby classes, groups, meet-ups with my little one right now. I expected my maternity leave days to be full of meeting other parents, sharing the joys and hardships of new parenthood together.
Then there’s the loss of activities and places we might go. Places like the aquarium or zoos. Any Christmas or Halloween events now require tickets to stick to the strict Covid guidelines, and I’ve not been lucky or fast enough to get them. These things would stimulate our babies minds enough that we parents get to be a little mindless. It is so hard to constantly stimulate a baby and keep them entertained.
I’m not naïve enough to think being in a relationship doesn’t come with it’s own issues, and by no means am I belittling couples who are going through this new journey either. Both are different and pose their own set of difficulties, and right now I’m just heavily submerged in the throes of my own journey as a single parent.
It takes a village to raise a baby. And this single mum, raising her little one during a pandemic, is really feeling the loss of my village right now.