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The Party

1
This weekend we were invited to our first kids party and by that I mean a party for one of my little girls friends at nursery – I don’t know her parents, I see them in the distance during drop off and pick up, they’re not family, they aren’t friends I grew up with, they are just nice people who have picked up on the fact that our kids play together 5 days a week.

Now, as a single parent the ultimate paranoia is being that parent who turns up and everyone is wondering what’s the story behind only one of the parents being there. In reality, even

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2
if you’re in a relationship with the father or otherwise, no one even bats an eyelid if you turn up by yourself, they assume the other half of the partnership is busy, they don’t instantly know your life history – and do you know how refreshing that is? To feel like you own your life a little bit, no presumptions, no judgement, not feeling inadequate.

The instant we arrived I could hear there were a few people already there, and as we turned the corner there were a few familiar faces. The Mums welcomed us (I would put out my arm to shake hands and

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3
they’d hug me instead), my little girl instantly found her friends and started playing, and we were part of something, me and my daughter, not me bringing my daughter, if anything I was secondary, this was her party, I just drove her there.

There were a few dads there, and low and behold they were enjoying spending time with their children. Now, this might sound silly but the concept is completely alien to me – a man choosing to spend his weekend with his wife and child in a community centre eating cold sausage rolls, navigating pass the parcel, and

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4
getting that same fear in their eyes when midway through they hear “I need a wee”.

I hadn’t seen that in my daughters father before the separation – from the time I fell pregnant the last thing he wanted to do was spend time with us at the weekend, and when he did his mind was elsewhere. We were a burden, we were boring, we didn’t involve hotels and pubs, nice meals out and weekends away. We were about spending time, usually in a park, usually after some kind of disrupted meal and surrounded by baby wipes, at a farm, soft play, or swimming

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5
pool, just being around one another, it didn’t matter where.

Not only did I come out of the party this weekend feeling ‘normal’, but also somewhat accepted and quite inspired. It was the dads who lead the party, conducted the rules of pass the parcel and statues, who made others feel at ease. The Mums were lovely too but it gave me a new view of what a father can be – I felt jealous, but also hopeful that if we were lucky, we’d find a father figure one day who equally enjoyed spending his weekends just being wherever we were.

Me and my girl

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are a team, and we’re grateful for our time together and ensure we enjoy our time wherever we go. The past is the past, it’s what you do next that counts, and we’re a happy family of two – we have our home, our favourite parks, and every night when we go to bed we talk about our day (I read somewhere this is the time of day when you feel most relaxed) – we share everything and we have our family around us. I feel strong when I see my little girl smile, it means i’m doing something right and we’re ok, but maybe one day we’ll have a +1 too? One
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day, but there’s no rush, this is our time to shine, just the two of us.
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Jennifer Gosling

By

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- 2 Jun 19

This weekend we were invited to our first kids party and by that I mean a party for one of my little girls friends at nursery – I don’t know her parents, I see them in the distance during drop off and pick up, they’re not family, they aren’t friends I grew up with, they are just nice people who have picked up on the fact that our kids play together 5 days a week.

Now, as a single parent the ultimate paranoia is being that parent who turns up and everyone is wondering what’s the story behind only one of the parents being there. In reality, even if you’re in a relationship with the father or otherwise, no one even bats an eyelid if you turn up by yourself, they assume the other half of the partnership is busy, they don’t instantly know your life history – and do you know how refreshing that is? To feel like you own your life a little bit, no presumptions, no judgement, not feeling inadequate.

The instant we arrived I could hear there were a few people already there, and as we turned the corner there were a few familiar faces. The Mums welcomed us (I would put out my arm to shake hands and they’d hug me instead), my little girl instantly found her friends and started playing, and we were part of something, me and my daughter, not me bringing my daughter, if anything I was secondary, this was her party, I just drove her there.

There were a few dads there, and low and behold they were enjoying spending time with their children. Now, this might sound silly but the concept is completely alien to me – a man choosing to spend his weekend with his wife and child in a community centre eating cold sausage rolls, navigating pass the parcel, and getting that same fear in their eyes when midway through they hear “I need a wee”.

I hadn’t seen that in my daughters father before the separation – from the time I fell pregnant the last thing he wanted to do was spend time with us at the weekend, and when he did his mind was elsewhere. We were a burden, we were boring, we didn’t involve hotels and pubs, nice meals out and weekends away. We were about spending time, usually in a park, usually after some kind of disrupted meal and surrounded by baby wipes, at a farm, soft play, or swimming pool, just being around one another, it didn’t matter where.

Not only did I come out of the party this weekend feeling ‘normal’, but also somewhat accepted and quite inspired. It was the dads who lead the party, conducted the rules of pass the parcel and statues, who made others feel at ease. The Mums were lovely too but it gave me a new view of what a father can be – I felt jealous, but also hopeful that if we were lucky, we’d find a father figure one day who equally enjoyed spending his weekends just being wherever we were.

Me and my girl are a team, and we’re grateful for our time together and ensure we enjoy our time wherever we go. The past is the past, it’s what you do next that counts, and we’re a happy family of two – we have our home, our favourite parks, and every night when we go to bed we talk about our day (I read somewhere this is the time of day when you feel most relaxed) – we share everything and we have our family around us. I feel strong when I see my little girl smile, it means i’m doing something right and we’re ok, but maybe one day we’ll have a +1 too? One day, but there’s no rush, this is our time to shine, just the two of us.

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