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Image / Editorial

‘None of this is normal’: I’m doing what I can to get through this but not everything is possible

by Lia Hynes
23rd Mar 2020

When Liadan Hynes’ marriage fell apart she had to work on adjusting to the new reality. In her weekly column, Things Fall Apart she explores the myriad ways a person can find their way back to themselves, as well as the realities of life as a single parent in Ireland

Before all of this happened, I had a piece planned (by which I mean a vague idea in my mind) about how when you are a single parent, you need to make your peace with allowing some things to slide. Otherwise, you are going to run yourself ragged.

So standards, whatever yours are, need to be dropped. Dishes left in the kitchen at night, messy rooms sometimes remaining messy, laundry not put away, more TV watched than you would ideally like. There’s only so much a person can do. You need to choose your battles.

Little did I realise to what extent I would need to embrace this thinking by the time I was writing this column.

Homeschooling and more

The above standards seem laughable if you could see the state of the home I am currently sitting in while I write this. I started this column at 8.10 in the evening, my five-year-old sitting beside me. Every few minutes I hand her a new page of stickers, she’s decorating a mask. Bedtime will not be happening in the next few minutes (turns out it was nearly 10 o’clock before it happened).

We’re all getting through this in our own ways. Everyone has their different challenges. If you’re a single parent, then chances are most, or all, of the costs of running a house are already on you.

Homeschooling, baking, inventive playing, would be lovely, but might not be possible.

I’m lucky, for now, I have lots of work. But this also means that so far this morning, to meet deadlines, we have had hours of TV, I’ve cracked open an Easter egg, video-called her grandparents and her father for storytimes, and I’ve just moved bath time to after lunch (full disclosure, I fed her French Fancies in the bath to lengthen her stay in there. Whatever works).

I’ve said that afterwards, we will bake gingerbread biscuits. There’s a good chance this might not happen. I’d like to think we might get out for a walk, but I’m not sure we will.

To get through something difficult, you sometimes need to reduce life to the absolute basic things you need to do to get through that day.

Some of us draw up routines and post them on Instagram. Some of us are still in our pyjamas at five o’clock and serving toasted waffles for breakfast and dinner.

None of these are wrong. The point is there are many, varying ways to get through this. You do whatever works for you. None of this is normal. Getting through is the point.

I spent the first few days trying to get some kind of routine going. I even wrote a schedule at one point. It was only the following evening I remembered I had created it. Yesterday, I divided the day in half; herself in the morning, work in the evening. I’ve cracked it, I thought. Today, I’ve been working since 9 am, and will be at it all day.

Take this day by day.

You do what works for you and your children.

There is nothing routine about it.

Liadan Hynes’s first book, ‘How to Fall Apart: Things I’ve Learned About Losing and Finding Love’, is out on May 7. Pre-order from Easons now.

Feature photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels