Growing up in a single parent home we sometimes fail to recognize the struggle parents experience without a partner to assist in raising children and running a household. My mom went about raising myself and my siblings all by her lonesome. A mortgage, car payment, grocery shopping and ensuring our safety, well-being, education and care landed squarely on her shoulders. Many of my friends experience this same challenge everyday. I commend them for their single parenting as I only experience the challenge when The Chad goes out of town.
Each time he leaves we are generally in a new or different season. When I first had the opportunity to experience life as a single parent was in 2009. What a busy year with a kindergartener and toddling twins. The Chad was on the road every two weeks, he would be home long enough for us to breathe again as a family before he hit the road again. This travel went on for about a year before the market took its toll on his employer and our family. I learned how to coordinate life with three kids, of which two were the exact same age at the exact same time, so breast feedings, naps, pick up and drop off for school, outings; all were perfectly orchestrated after much practice, trial and error.
During his travels I learned the appreciation of having another adult and parent in the home. Another set of eyes, another set of hands, another adult with more patience than I had that moment, that day. I appreciated having help for making dinner plates, baths and nighttime kisses, but especially having another adult for support and conversation when struggling with twin toddlers. Feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered, I spent many nights alone in our King size bed struggling to fight back tears, to be strong, knowing the moment is only temporary.
This week I find The Chad traveling again. His travels are not nearly as frequent as they once were and my insecurities as a mom with three kids are not nearly as strong as they formerly were. While I used to find this a crutch, today I embrace the opportunity to really enjoy the time with my kids as a single parent for the week. We band together making plans for nightly dinners, creating menus for their lunches, scheme for future plans, and all the while they still manage to push any edge of the envelope they possibly can, working every angle to test the very limits set by their father and I.
Not that this week was any special or different but I was reminded of my mother and my many friends who are single parents, both mothers and fathers. I am reminded of their grit, resiliency, strength, patience, and unadulterated love for their children. Humbled by their drive and initiative that caring for their children without the assistance of a spouse, partner or help, comes as second nature. This second nature reminds me of the instinct I experienced when I first had my twins, everything was a matter of survival, sink or swim, fight or flight. When people would ask how do you do it? The only comprehensible answer would be “you just do!” or “one day at a time.”
Moments of frustration engulf me when I am outnumbered, when I wish there were more of me to help each of them in those moments, to meet their needs. Pity and jealousy when I think of The Chad’s business travels and enjoying a nice warm dinner with cocktails, as I am the last to eat, clean up the evening’s dinner, toys, laundry, and other miscellaneous anarchy that litters the house.Â Then I remember my friends. I am a jerk. I am selfish.
Hats are off to my friends for their vigor, strength, tenacity and unburdened love for their children. Watching them raise their children while balancing a career, life, and children is magical. They do not feel sorry for themselves, nor are they angry for their circumstance. Single parenting is a skill, a gift, and a blessing. As a parent we are everything to everyone in our family with a delicate juggling act of jobs, roles, time and single parents make the act of parenting look flawless.