Part time parent!?

(20 Posts)

sigh

Not sure why I'm posting this, maybe just to get it off my chest, but I really wish people would think before judging, opening their mouths, and ending up being cruel.

My sister called me a 'part time parent' during a recent rant. Down to the fact that his dad has him for 2 nights every other weekend, and that due ot my circumstances my Dad has him overnight one night a week so that I can travel for work. So in her view, the fact that I get 4 nights out of 14 without my son, I am somehow living the life of riley and not living up to my responsibilities as a parent.

My Sister has a DD, just a couple of months younger than my DS. She has not worked since well before she was pregnant. She has a partner who was living with her, who was also unemployed till last year when he found a job, He now works very hard to support them, but works shifts and can often work very long hours. She is also now pregnant again.

Conversley I have always worked, and have a demanding and stressful job, but get paid quite well for it. Not lap of luxury well, but enough to afford to rent a nice place for DS. I am on my own. When I found out I was pregnant I was living in London, but made the choice to move to be closer to ther rest of both sides of DS's family and give him a better standard of living - turning my world upside down! The consequence of this is that I have to do some travelling for my work. One day a week I have to leave the house at 5am, so DS stays with my Dad. I do, howver, manage my time so that I work all my hours over 4 days, so I spend 1 day a week having quality time just me and DS.

I can see why she said it, I can see why she feels like she is struggling, and sees me as having it easy in her eyes. But actually, she has no idea, and can't see what it is really like from the other side of the fence.

It doesn't make it any less offenive though. I'm not angry. I know I'm not a part time parent so I'm not posting to get reassurance from you all. I know I'm doing the best for my son.

I guess I'm just dissappointed that my Sister of all people wouldn't see the truth, and would choose to judge without considering it.

cestlavielife Tue 04-Mar-14 10:58:40

you dont get her life; she doesnt get yours. no point arguing it. be the bigger person.
smile and wave.
"yes i am lucky to get two days child free every other week". because you are.

cestlavielife - I think you misunderstand me completely. As I said in the OP I'm not angry or arguing the point.

Whilst I can never fully understand what it's like for my sister - I can't live her life - I can appreciate why from her point of view, with a toddler and a baby on the way and a partner working long hours, she may feel some sort of injustice at not having what she sees as a high level of time off or time to herself. Therefore I've not got angry ormade a big deal out of it.

However I can't help feeling really disappointed. Firstly that this is the way she views me, and secondly that she is unable to see/ empathise with the position. I don't have every other weekend without him by choice.

As for feeling 'lucky' - I don't doubt that actually having this timeis in some ways lucky but I think to view it that way undervalues the complexity and difficulties that go along with having to juggle everything and attempt to form some sort of co-parenting set up.

I don't believe, and never will do, that the differences in our position make either of us 'luckier' than the other.

I've obviously hit a nerve with you.

Viviennemary Tue 04-Mar-14 12:04:24

I don't think you should take much notice of what your sister says. I think you are quite lucky to have your Dad to have your son overnight. I had absolutely no family nearby to help out. She sees things from her point of view. But I see your point when you say you don't feel any luckier than her. It's swings and roundabouts between you both as far as I can see.

Vivienne - it's all about choices though.

Believe me - I would like to be in a position where I don't have to get my Dad to have him overnight, but with a 2 hour + commute each way and a long day at the office I can't really manage any other way.

In fact in some ways I would like to be like my sister and not have to leave him at all. I hate leaving him 4 days a week - having him spend 3 days a week with strangers at nursery. It wasn't how his Dad and I had planned things before our relationship ended.

But the reason I have to do this, is because I chose to move over 150 miles away from work so that I could be closer to both sides of DS's family (mine and his fathers). I wanted him to grow up close to his grandparents and extended family.

It makes things more difficult for me - making arrangements for different patterns of working, juggling when I have to travel, and re-arranging work around his nursery times etc. Often catching up once DS has gone to bed.

But with my parents blessing it was the choice I made, the choice I thought would be best for DS. I don't begrudge this choice.... but somehow it feels like my Sister begrudges me for it, or begrudges her own choice and the position it has put her in.

I just can't help feeling diappointed and very sad that this is view my own sister has of me. Of course I can't do anything about that, and even trying to would be pointless and stir up an unecessary hornets nest.

I feel like this may have an irrevocable impact on our relationship going forwards though.

cestlavielife Tue 04-Mar-14 13:50:55

she is pregnant. her partner works long hours. she is pregnant and has a toddler...hard for anyone. with or without a partner. in a rant she may well feel that you are a part time parent. the turn of phrase was unfortunate - if you have kids you are a parent 24/7 but what she perhaps meant was literally that for those days he is in the care of someone else, he is in the care of someone else...

you not angry but - feel, quote, "disappointed and very sad" and think it might affect your relationship going forward....

it is up to you here I think to decide if you will let this dig a rift or not...

that's all. i dont think one life trumps another. fwiw i have three chidlren one with severe learning disabilities and autism, he is 17 but last week had a poo accident and smeared it all over the inside of the car...none/v little help from ex. i work full time. and yes i would love to have eow free...

so perhaps i can win on the "diffiuclt" stakes?? but no I dont think i do or your sister or you... no, i dont think your life feels easier than mine.
it isnt a competition.
each person's life is their own. we all have challenges... mine is poo smeared all over the car...yours today was something else. just as big to you.

but - the value of sibling relationships, for you to have a sister there to turn to if needs be (and her to you),..let's say in the future when your parents get old and maybe sick... for your ds to have cousins he is close to, well that beats a little envy/jealousy/disappointment/judgement all round.

if in other ways you have a good relationship with your sister then value that.

if it is always rants and arguments...well...up to you ...

cestalavie - I think that's exactly what I'm trying to say - I don't see it as some sort of competition, or that anyone is trying to 'win' at how difficult they have it. I've made my choices, and am happy with them, and feel like I have it pretty good. We all have good and bad but that's just life!

But she obviously does see it as a competition if her latest rant is anything to go by. I understand she must be finding it hard, but there is this constant undertone of viciousness since we had our children.

We already have a 'difficult' relationship - hence the rant she was having. But now it just feels like there is total resentment from her, which is why I think this might cause an irrevocable shift in our relationship.

I can't help the situation I'm in - I'm dealing with it the best I can. But does that mean I should be subject to such negativity about it? I don't know.

VelvetGecko Tue 04-Mar-14 14:24:19

Ime it's best just to let comments like that wash over you and distance yourself from people with such attitudes. None of us really know what someone else's life is like but decent people will at least try to understand or empathize.
I'm in a very similar situation to yourself OP, lots of parental support but no paternal involvement and I'm pretty fussy about the company I keep. Good friends, people who care about you, should make you feel good and be proud of your achievements. Negative people like your sister are usually unhappy with their lot hence the need to make such comments.

cestlavielife Tue 04-Mar-14 15:14:30

ah...well...if you have a difficult relationship then set your boundaries, reduce contact with her and see if she softens with maturity/age.

no point spending more time than you have to with negative people - or giving them room space in your head ...

Viviennemary Tue 04-Mar-14 15:44:50

I agree that there is no point spending time with her if she gets on your nerves so much. I only meant that it was fortunate your Dad had him overnight or else your life would be even more difficult not that you had it easy. And your sister does sound discontented. Or else say in a bored voice can we change the subject every time she starts.

Anonymai Tue 04-Mar-14 16:12:39

Just ignore. People always think everyone else has an easier time. My sister rants about people on benefits and how we don't pay our own rent while she has no money and struggles. Yet she has loads of things I would consider a luxury while I live off beans several days a week so dd can have fruit and veg. It's easier for people to ignore the reality so they feel justified in their misplaced jealousy.

Inshock73 Tue 04-Mar-14 17:38:40

Giant I think your sisters' outburst has very little to do with you and your situation and is more an insight in to how she is feeling about her situation. I would hazard a guess she's not very happy and possibly feels a little trapped whether that's financially or because she has another child on the way but whatever it is she's unhappy. When we're happy and contented with our life we don't lash out at other people. Unfortunately there is something about being 'family' that makes a lot of people think they can say whatever they feel, be as blunt or as they see it 'honest' as they want to be and whenever they want to be. Don't apologise for working hard and making the choices you have, you've done it for the right reasons.

russianfudge Tue 04-Mar-14 18:40:47

People use the strangest turns of phrase. My pet peeve is when you ask what someone does for a living and they say they are a full time parent... as opposed to me clearly, being a part time one confused But they don't mean anything by it.

Are you sure she meant something by it?

justtoomessy Wed 05-Mar-14 20:48:58

My mum reckons I get loads of time away from my DS because she has him while I am at work I tried to point out that I'm at work so it's hardly restful and good time away but she wasn't having any of it hmm

Family are weird and friends are weird about the whole single parent thing unless they have been there for any amount of time. Let it flow over your head.

Oh and she sounds very jealous of you and so may be trying to make you feel bad so she feels better IYGWIM. You have a good job, nice house etc and in her eyes get 2 days to yourself. I have a good job, nice house and a single parent with no contact with my sons dad and I am very jealous of your 2 days off from being a parent.....oh how I'd kill for a weekend to myself grin

Thank you all.

I've realised that I am probably being quite sensitive about this issue, but mainly because of my own feelings. I don't like having to rely on my Dad the way I do. It bothers me that I am not able to manage without it. Which makes it a bit of a sore point for me.

However, I do agree with Velvet that good people try to understand and empathise and that someone who supposedly loves me shouldn't really be trying to make me feel bad about it.

Also Justtoomessy - this is the last in what seems to be a fairly long line of comments that indicate she feels the same way as your mother. Yes work is time away from my son, but not time I choose, and certainly not a barrel of laughs. But given she has never worked while she has been a parent she has no hope of understanding.

I haven't done or said anything about it - to her or any one else - just vented on here. I thought that might be the wisest option. But I am seriously considering putting some distance between me and my sister, just to avoid the negativity.

chocoraisin Thu 06-Mar-14 10:02:29

Give yourself and your sister some time, then try and talk to her about it. My older sister was unbelievably vile to me over more or less the same thing, I was desperately hurt. In order to bring up my DC near their maternal and paternal grandparents I gave up my career, my home, my friends. I was unable to rent for almost a year so lived with my parents. It was a hideous, emotional and disruptive time for me and my DS, and in the midst of it I had another baby while dealing with an EA ex and OW all the time.

I couldn't for the life of me see what there was to be jealous of. My Dsis had a loving husband, a beautiful house, two DC of her own. Not a perfect life but when she lashed out at me I was tempted to throw back at her, "sure, great! Get your DH to treat you like shit, lose everything you've got around you now, and come home. See how much a babysitter now and then helps".

The point is neither of us were able to see the others POV clearly at that time. She was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with no help, and while she didn't want my life, she wanted to be closer to me, my parents, people who would notice she was struggling too. She didn't ask for help though because she felt she couldn't as my need was (at the time) so much greater (in her eyes). It was a festering resentment for ages.

Eventually we spent a day together without our children and I apologised to her for not being available to listen, and asked her to tell me what was wrong. Not justifying my situation, just taking a bit of time to listen to hers and validate that it was completely ok for her to feel overwhelmed and upset as well - it's not a competition, family is there for everyone, not just the most needy. Since she realised that I was willing to listen and help (in whatever way I could, which still isn't much beyond listening unfortunately) we have got along so much better.

It's hard not to want to defend yourself, but I found that just letting her talk about her own stuff without mentioning my own helped both of us so much. It also brought some balance to me - I got past some of the feeling hard done by, and started to think about what I had to offer back.

I don't know if any of that will resonate but thought I would share just in case. x

Choco - thanks for sharing, it's really useful to see that, and I can understand a bit more as to why she felt the need to lash out. Although she is probably receiving more support from my parents than I am at the moment, she obviously views the fact that DS spends some time with his Dad as a massive luxury for me - I do get that. She's just not seeing the rest of it.

I'm not sure a similar approach would work in our situation - but that's a whole essay of back story that I'd rather not go into. But it's helpful to have you share it, and comforting to know we are not the only ones!

GPPE x

bibliomania Fri 07-Mar-14 15:50:59

Just acknowledging that it was a hurtful thing for your sister to say. I'd be upset too.

Nothing strange about your feelings, but you can choose your actions. I'd probably go with least said, soonest mended on this one. But if she's consistently being hurtful to you, then maybe it is a wise choice to minimise her opportunities to do this.

BlackeyedSusan Sat 08-Mar-14 01:39:00

if you are part time, then so is she as she shares the work with her partner.

Fortini Sat 08-Mar-14 07:48:22

I think her comment is nasty and like other posters have said, more of a reflection of her own unhappiness at her lot, she is looking at you with jealous eyes, unfortunately! That said, try to rise above it. She does not understand what being a lone parent is like. And maybe her partner is less supportive than he should be

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