If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for the future.
I heard this little gem of wisdom a few years ago and it has always put a smile on my face. It's easy to smile when unexpected happenings occur and they turn out to be rather fun and adventurous - yet there are some occurrences in life when future plans are so violently shattered that the shrapnel of the metaphorical explosion rips you apart. Suddenly finding yourself as a single parent, either through loss or a marriage which goes awry, is a daunting, scary place. It's a survival game, not only for yourself, but for your little one(s) too. It seems that one's primary thought is often focused on "How can I navigate through this without damaging my child's sense of security, general wellbeing and their faith in an institution which promises unconditional love?" It's easy to think that one is alone in all of this. One moment you are spending leisurely Sunday afternoons in the local park - an idillic setting for an ideal family - and the next you are caught up in a whirlwind of turmoil. By the time you have managed to come up for air you've lived under numerous roofs and the thing that is most precious and dear to you is no longer hopping into bed with you for morning cuddles; the very thing that inspires you to be the best person you can be.
There is little reassurance in the pseudo comforter that is "you are not the only one going through this". Yes, many have come before us and many will after us, but that means so little when your whole focus is on that one little being that you have helped nurture for x amount of years. Playing tag-team to spend time with one's children is not an ideal situation. This modern take on the once nuclear family where one adult and one, two or three children occupy the home is not a comforter either. All of a sudden becoming part of the statistics becomes way more than just another set of numbers...you become that stat but only this time the stat is no longer deindividuated. Each of those numbers has a name. Each of those numbers is no longer bathing their child at night. Each one of those numbers no longer gets a goodnight kiss. Each of those numbers no longer gets a turn to say a goodnight prayer to their favourite audience. Physical touch becomes substituted with a small voice on the other side of a telephone, and when it is your time, your night, nothing wedges the knife deeper than "I want to go back to mommy's house". We do what's best for our little ones and we suck up the pain, put on a brave face, cry quietly out of earshot whilst they are distracted by their toys or splashing in the bath. Falling to the floor and sobbing becomes the broken mans silhouette - still standing tall to protect his children, but folded and small when no one is looking. It never seems to be apparent to the passing eye, but single dad's carry the pain deep inside, because society will somehow still have us believe that fathers, when it comes to children, are not as important as mothers. Perhaps there is some deep embedded truth in the ideology, but mere fallacy is perhaps a truer picture.
Going at it alone is greater than not going at it at all, but damn it's tough.