In my most recent person-centred and experiential therapy session as a client, I had the space to explore of how important it is to me to weave my own narrative around solo parenthood.
Over the years, I have often heard from those close to me or potential romantic partners about how hard my life is, how intense, how tiring it ‘must be’. There’s perhaps an expression of empathy somewhere in these sentiments, but they do little to uphold my wellbeing. I am told that my life is too complex for others to adapt to — and that I ought to be grateful for their willingness to even try.
The deficit driven narratives of others have only intensified during the pandemic — I so often hear from those I would wish to be part of my support network how challenging and unmanageable it is to look after young children for a day. This serves only to make me feel isolated and alone. As do the comments of strangers when we are out walking as a family with the dogs: ‘goodness, you’ve got your hands full’.
Yes, my hands are full. Daily, I use them to care for my precious children and animals. To tend to the home I love and the hard earned objects within it. To drive my children to school and to their activities. To unclip my toddler from his car seat and high chair. To type reports and papers and countless emails which turn into nourishing food and rich family experiences. To feel the warmth of my sleeping dogs when I rest my body on the sofa, energies depleted, my home enveloped by autumnal starlit skies.
My heart too is full. Filled to the brim with an all encompassing love, always getting me through the challenges and fears of being entrusted with three lives.
The personal growth I continue to experience as an independent parent, the human thriving that I have the privilege to walk alongside — that is my narrative.
Within therapy, I explored how I won’t let this narrative be shaken by internalising the commentary of others. On those days that can feel difficult, it is not those opinions about how complicated my life must be that are going to get me through. Rather, it is the strength I draw from holding my children’s hands as they fall asleep and from the unshakeable joy possible only through the life I have chosen.