Single Parent Series: I Still Have a Purpose in Life
This is our second story from the Single Parent Series. We hope you'll get some insight into the life of a single parent, and also if you are going through something similar, we hope you will find comfort in these words.
1. How old are you?
2. How long have you been out of your relationship? Were you dating or married?
It's a little over 2 years now that I have been out of my 8 years marriage.
3. How long have you been a single parent?
I have been a single parent for a little over 2 years.
4. How many kids do you have? How old are they? Does their age make it easier or harder?
I have 4 kids: 3 girls and 1 boy. My oldest daughter is 9, my son is 6 and the 2 younger girls are 4 and 3. My oldest daughter has been helping quite a bit recently within the last few months such as grabbing clothes for the two younger sisters, locating food, helping with chores such as doing dishes. I would still say that it's hard since my two younger ones are still little and needs my time and affection. All of the kids don't know how to cook yet so they are all dependent on me.
5. Do you live close to family? Does that help?
I live with my siblings and my dad. They are all around my age so they do help me with watching the kids while I'm out or at work. It helps for that part, but it's not always a guarantee.
6. Who helps you watch your kids if you're working?
My siblings help with watching my kids while I'm at work. It's fairly hard to find a decent paying job and while being a single parent. I work 3rd shift in hopes that I can handle any daily appointments such as doctor appointments and school activities.
7. What type of schedule do you have your kids on so you don't go crazy?
Since I work 3rd shift, my kids have adapted to my schedule and stay up while I'm at work. It's summer so I don't have to worry too much about getting up early and getting them ready for school. Therefore, I can actually sleep in. They also sleep too during the day which makes it easier without having noises.
8. What are some things you would do if it you did not have to worry about being a single parent?
I would be able to go out more with friends without the stress of knowing that my kids are home without their parents. I will always have it at the back of my mind, "How are my kids doing? What if they miss me? Are they hungry? Are they annoying their uncle and aunt?".
9. What are some struggles you have gone through being a single parent?
Being a single parent is hard for sure. I live with my siblings in hope that I can have extra help when I needed it, but it's not always that pretty. Food and snacks are starting to be stored in bedrooms versus out in the kitchen or pantry where it should be. Dishes are not being one. Everyone is for themselves.
Am I being pity? I wonder about that sometimes. Since I work 3rd shift and my kids are on my schedule, they are actually up while everyone else is asleep. So therefore, no one is actually supervising them. It's just the "presence at home."
At first, we siblings were pretty close; however, over the course of time with 4 kids of my own, we all became less social. My siblings also have at least 1 child of their own. Love in the house is not shared equally. I always sense that my kids get the short end of the stick. I try not to let it bother me as much since I'm trying to be the best father figure I can be for them. My siblings are nice people and I don't have any ill feelings towards them at all. But like the old saying, even blood family can turn against one another. It's true.
Another struggle: Being Hmong, people tend to look at history and family roots. No one wants to be with another person with baggage, especially a man with 4 kids who he loves dearly. It's hard to find someone who's dedicated to you and your kids. To accept you, your baggage, and your past. To love you for who you are and not of what they heard or assumed.
10. Any tips you can offer to other single parents?
Be patient, be strong. Don't rush into another relationships because you feel unloved or empty inside. Be the parent you are meant to be for your child(ren). Just think about how it was for you when you were young. You needed your parents. You want their love. So be there for your child(ren). We're all adults. Playtime is over. We have responsibilities. Work on building the future for your kids before it's too late.
11. How do you feel about making a commitment to someone who does not have children? Why?
I have tried getting back into talking to women and tried dating again. The ones without children doesn't seem to fully comprehend the hardship of those who have children. They seem to care more about me rather than everything I come with, which I mentioned above. There are times I have had to tend to my children and the women felt like I was avoiding them.
12. Are you currently dating? What is it like to date as a single parent?
I am not currently dating. I have tried dating, but I think it's too early in my separation. Being in a marriage for 8 years, I feel like I don't know how to properly date or talk to someone. I did hold a short relationship briefly after my divorce. It didn't go as expected. At first, it was nice and sweet. But as time went by, I felt like I was neglecting my children to be with someone else. I didn't want that. I didn't want my children to be and feel neglected of my love.
13. What did your family think when you became a single parent?
It was a shock for them. I was the oldest son. Being Hmong, I had the burden of the oldest son's duties upon me. It felt like I had failed my parents. I have cut ties with parents. My mom has always said that I never listened to her and that's why I'm where I'm at today. It broke my heart even more when she told me that she should have aborted me so she wouldn't have to deal with any of this. My dad is similar by saying I don't listen to him so he's no longer going to help me with finding another spouse.
14. What's the best part of being a single parent?
The best part of being a single parent to me would be giving my children all the love and undivided attention I can give them.
15. What's the worst part of being a single parent?
The worst part of being a single parent is the lack of support. Not having the support from the spouse is hard. My ex-wife and I are on good terms so we do what we can on one another's end to help with raising our children. There are times where you need that support and breather for just a bit.
Being a single parent also makes it harder to get into another relationship. It is as if you gt judged because you have children. Especially for a man with children, from my experience, seems like everything tends to be the man's fault and that's why he had a failed marriage/relationship.
16. What do you want people to know and understand what it's like to be a single parent?
Being a single parent is hard. Understand that you may or may not get the support you seek. Do what you can so at the end of the day, your children do not go to bed with an empty stomach. People will talk about you whether it's negative or positive. Go in strong-minded. Without that mindset, you will hurt yourself You will have more responsibilities that are carried over from what is supposed to be a team from your ex (spouse/relationship). Over time, it will become easier as your children grow. Remember, it's only temporary.
Most things such as setting up medical appointments are usually done by the mother. Being a father, you'll end up taking that role. Wherever you go, such as shopping for groceries, the more children you have the harder it seems. With 4 children, I often get glares at me while I'm shopping around. At first, it bothered me so I stopped going shopping with all of my children. Then I thought about it They are my children and I love them. What does someone else's opinion have to do with how I raise and love my children?
The kids' mother and I both share custody of the children. Therefore, when the children are over at their mom's place, it is hard not being able to be with your children. You will often worry about how they are doing, how they are sleeping, having they eaten yet, are they hurt, do they miss you, and so forth. Yet, when you miss them, all you can do is video call with them. It hurts because it's not the same as getting to hold them. All the physical touch matters, like hugs and kisses. The house becomes so quiet and soon I start missing the noises of my children around the house.
Last, but not least, try to overcome whatever obstacles you have been yourself and your children's other parent. Let go of the anger, guilt, and anything else that stops you from being able to provide a happy life for both of your children. Even though life may have changed for you, life hasn't changed between the children and their bond with their parents.
At first, it was hard on me, taking on full responsibilities and care for the children. Soon, I realized that it doesn't operate that way. All children deserve to know their parent and receive the love from both parents even though they are no longer together. Children growing up will need the love from their parents the most. I failed at my relationship, but as long as I don't fail my children at being their father, I still have a purpose in life.
If you are a single parent and would like to share your story, please email us at kaolee @ thestoryclothshop.com.
- The Story Cloth Shop Team