Two Bites of the Cherry . Being a Solo Dad Paul Cronin

Lynley Henderson


Two bites of the cherry. I have five children, my youngest 18, since 2010 I have had the privilege of being their sole fulltime caregiver. I promise you that is no easy task, combine that with retraining, work and exploring new relationships it becomes a complex dance, given that I am dyspraxic it is no wonder that I feel like I have made a mixed bag of it all. Hopefully a much better fist of the parenting than the work and romance side of my life. My household has become rather full with my son, nephew and daughter being joined by my eldest, her husband and four children. Parenting as a grandparent is really quite different, even more so when they share your space. Knowing when to speak up and when to shut up is an art. It reminds me of when children were very new in my life as I stumbled my way through child raising, from the mundane of learning how to dress a squirming babe and cleaning them after a spectacular projectile shart, with poo going from neck to knee. You can read all the books you like but there is nothing that quite prepares you for that! Nor is there anything that prepares you for babies who become sick, with raging temperatures and eyes that roll back in their head, floppy unresponsive dolls. It seems like you have only just got them past the danger years then comes the next lot of challenges, school followed by that biggy of driving, then off they fly (allegedly independent). Here’s the thing it never changes there is always further challenges that they face. Should we be surprised about that? Well no because our lives are a mirror of parenting, unknown things popping up, known challenges, decisions to make dealing with peers, workmates and the things which we call life. Life has changed immensely since I was a child, if a school mate had a different surname to their parents it was something of a wonder, never shameful in my eyes although I am sure there was tutting and worse from adults. Relationships looked like they were stable and the evils of society we see today just didn’t seem to exist or if they did it was in much smaller doses. In amongst this is the constant concern of am I parenting properly, well I know that I have made some humdinger mistakes, real. doozys, I have learnt through these. The major thing I have learnt is to be kind to yourself. Don’t shy from stepping up and taking responsibility, nor from reflecting on how you are doing in life., above all else don’t be afraid to reach out for help when things are tough.

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