I conduct circles of sharing and listening. I am a single parent. And I have felt the need to create a space of sharing and listening for other single parents of all genders. Yesterday, I had my first circle for single parents. One parent showed up.:) And this parent, a single mother, thanked me for inviting her. She told me,’thank you for inviting me, as most people forget that even though my daughter lives with her father, I am a single parent.’ She added how because people do not ever ask her about mothering, she herself forgets that for 11 years she has been a full time mother to her child. Incidentally she also homeschooled her daughter, and she finds that no one ever asks her about homeschooling. Her daughter is now appearing for public exam as a homeschooler. A huge chunk of the credit for her daughter’s education and learning goes to her mother. And yet she feels sad that perhaps her contribution to her daughter’s infant years and formative years will go unrecognized and perhaps even unacknowledged.
As we both shared and listened to the challenges of being a single parent, we touched upon the pain of being a parent (single or otherwise, man or woman) and also touched upon the greater pain of holding the pain of our children as they walk through life and towards their destiny.
I am a single parent and my children are living with me. That has both huge challenges and joys. As a single mother, I feel the freedom of being creative with parenting, as I do not have a spouse to tell me what is best for the children. Along with that immense freedom I feel the immensity of the responsibility that is also vested in me. The chances of going ‘wrong’ and being blamed for not making the right choices for my children vest heavily in me. I walk the path of imperfect but peaceful parenting, trusting my intuition and that of my children about life and children.
I feel angry with myself for having to depend on my ex-spouse for finances and from there stems my fear of being judged for ‘things not turning out perfect as the world sees it’. This factor pushes me to be open and compassionate towards my ex-spouse, pushes me to strengthen myself to hold his fears and doubts with love and care. I feel vulnerable as I see how despite being divorced I need him and he needs me. And this factor pushes me to transcend our past pain, it pushes me to practice forgiveness and to see him as a fellow traveler beyond his role of being my ex-husband and father of our children. My vulnerabilities push me to hold the conflicts we have with love. But this love is larger and stronger, it is not attached to him being my ex-husband and not attached to the pain we created together for ourselves.
I expressed how I am learning to accept reality as it is and how I am humbly bowing to the larger inter-dependence of relationships.
This lady shared, that she feels she needs to strengthen herself to hold those moments with love and compassion when her daughter will express anger and rage at her for the trauma and pain of growing up in a broken home. She also shared how, she feels empowered now to see that children do not come to us for over-protection from pain and sorrows. She shared how her journey into deeper pain and coming out of it entirely by herself, empowers her to be ready when her daughter faces the world and the inevitable heartbreaks that come with explorations of one’s authentic self. She feels ready to embrace her daughter when she goes out there and falls in love and breaks her heart, when she goes exploring and stumbles, when she makes that turn which turns out to be a path full of thorns. She feels ready to receive the anger, rage and sorrow of her daughter as she learns to navigate through life and its inevitable suffering. She also shared how she sees her ex-husband’s need to be loved which makes him control their daughter and her.
We both shared how for us parenting is not about telling our children what is good for them and what is not good for them. We both shared how parenting for us is not about making sure our children never make mistakes and never get hurt, never meet the wrong kind of people, never experience violence, never get used, misused or abused, never fall, never fail, never be rejected. We both shared how for us parenting was about a deeper knowing that all that is inevitable and we want to be present for our children to come home to recuperate and rejuvenate from heartbreaks, rejections, failure and pain.
It is easier to share the joys and successes of our children. It is easier for parents to proudly take credit for the highs in our children’s lives. But I feel the real challenge of parenting is to take equal ownership of the lows and pain of our children’s lives.
See you for the next circle.
I conduct Listening and Sharing Circle for Single Parents and other Parents in Pune, India. These sessions can be one-on-one or for couples or for men and women, for groups. Please write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org, if you wish to be part of such sessions/circles. You may write to me if you are facing any parenting challenges with your young and adult children. And we can together work out possibilities of sharing and listening.