Parenthood – Experiencing It Alone

As I’m writing this post it is the last day of me having both my girls to myself. This is the fifth and final day Oliver has been away having a break with his friends. I honestly thought to parent alone for 5 days and nights to two children under 2 would be unmanageable, but it wasn’t.

Poppy is very much a daddy’s girl, she always has been really even since her first surgery. She has always settled better for him and in general, I can tell she feels less anxious with him. I love that. It can be tough having a child who can’t communicate or comprehend. I know some parents feel like their children don’t love them. I rarely get a kiss or a cuddle from Poppy, do I take it personally? No. That’s just stupid. But when I get a kiss and a cuddle I soak that in like it’s the last one I’m going to get.

A baby girl with her dad in hospital
Poppy recovering from her first brain surgery.

I knew Oliver going away could mean a particularly hard time for Poppy. Therefore a hard time for everyone else. But she has actually been quite resilient. Neither of the girls has had much time with me over the past few days being a person down. It doesn’t allow for a lot of one on one time with either of them. And by now they very much miss their dad for sure.

That feeling when the first day was done. I was amazed at myself and genuinely proud that I’d managed the day without a mental breakdown. Being a parent can be so overwhelming and intense. I care for the girls by myself for most of the day, so it wasn’t a drastic change. But he allows me to do small things, like cook undisturbed and shower without an audience. I did find myself more tired because I’d had no time to myself.

Some people asked me if they thought him going away was a good idea. I didn’t really understand that, but I do get that looking after two children alone is hard. But in all honesty, I knew Oliver needed this time probably more than he knew himself.

I think its really important to remember that when a couple goes through trauma in their relationship or family both the mother and father experience pain. Yes, all the horrible things that happened with our girls happened to my body or while I was carrying them. I definitely have more guilt with that. But Oliver had to sit back helpless and witness everything. He himself experienced the trauma I have but in a different way.

This stigma that men don’t need breaks and the mother’s role is more challenging hits a nerve with me. I’m not denying that what I do is hard, but I don’t always envy Oliver’s position in our family unit.

But this long weekend has shown me that I am capable of a lot more than I thought. Often my head is full of so much anxiety that I think I’m doing a bad job. I’m sure all parents go through that. I’ve had no chance to dwell on anything and have gone out and done more things with my girls than normal. Partly because getting them out more makes my day less full-on and I have just felt better.

Not only has this time alone given me a clearer head when looking after my girls but in our relationship also. The past few years have been bogged down by hospitals and heartache I think I lost track of my relationship. We spend lots of time together, not as much time out of the house without our children as we’d like but we’ve never neglected each other in that way. But him being away has given me a chance to miss him. We see each other so often because he works from home I forgot what it felt like to not have him around.

I definitely appreciate everything Oliver does so much more than I did a few days ago. I wasn’t really sure growing up and in past relationships that I’d ever find someone I truly genuinely loved. But I can say wholeheartedly I adore that man. The word love doesn’t even come close. He has such a kind but simple heart, with no complications. He says what he means, and he truly means it.

Oliver has given me the security I never knew was possible. And I love him for making me feel genuinely safe and comfortable in myself even when he isn’t around.

I say to him I wish I could relive meeting him for the first time because and as cliche as it may sound I fell in love with him as soon as I saw him. Before we even said a word to eachother I knew I needed him in my life. And from that day 3 and a half years ago we have always been the same. Day 1178 of our relationship is as amazing as I felt on day 1.

Danielle Swan x