I’ve held off writing this post for a good six months, I’ve often thought about it, felt the emotion of what I wanted to say well up inside me and sometimes break through as tears of frustration, but what has held me back is the fact that I don’t want to come over as whiney, self-indulgent or self-pitying. I was also not sure if this was the correct place to write about my feelings on the subject; perhaps it could go on my personal blog where I write more about my life and have a more parenting focused audience, but the fact is I want it to be here, I want you to hear what I have to say because it is important to me and it bears relevance to my creative writing.
Almost anyone that pays attention to my social media output will know I’m a single parent, I have been the past two and a half years, the only piece of my online presence that pre-dates me becoming a parent is my personal Facebook profile and my personal blog. My daughter was born in Spain the day after my husband and I closed the doors on our scuba diving business, losing everything except our home when we did. Three months later we also lost our home due to my husband sustaining an injury which meant he could not work. When my daughter was two months old we flew to Barcelona where her grandparents met us and drove us across southern Spain and France all the way to the French Alps where we moved in with them.
Some months later my marriage ended, my husband walked out, my daughter was 11 months old and, with his consent, I brought her home to the UK, in my first year of parenting I had lived in three countries.
There isn’t any way I can convey how stressful all these months were, how isolating in so many different ways those 12 months and the months before and the months after were. I cannot explain how those months affected me because some two and a half years later I am still processing those thoughts and feelings, I am changed and I will continue to change due to those series of events.
What I can tell you is that they have hardened me and stolen time from me.
If you think I am snubbing you on social media because I don’t talk to you, I’m not.
If you think that I don’t interact with you in the way you would like, I probably don’t.
If you think I’m rude or tardy in replying to emails or contacts from you, I probably am.
It isn’t that I don’t want to be frivolous, fun or efficient, it is simply that I don’t have time. I cannot, will not, nor should I prioritise any person over my child.
If you know me, you’ll know I’m not hard, I’m soft, tired and vulnerable, just as I’ve always been, but now much more so than ever before. Yet there is a hardness, a brittleness, a wall, it is there to protect me and, more importantly, to protect my daughter, because if I allow myself to be affected by you, any one of you out there that may or may not know me or understand, in a negative way, then my parenting of her will be affected.
Why am I writing this manifesto of defense?
It is because I shouldn’t have to, it is because being a parent affects everything in my life, from my aspirations to my ability to fulfil them. It affects my politics, my bank balance and my every moment of existence. I am writing this so everyone is very, very clear that if I give you my time, it is the most precious thing I can give. If I write it takes up time and in doing so my writing becomes precious to me beyond the words on the page you read, but these gems of seconds and minutes and hours are willing given, they are the company I keep and future built on words.
Please be careful with them.