Thursday, July 12, 2012
My Ode to Single Parenthood
Being a single mom sucks.
Really that sentence pretty much sums up my whole last week. But for entertainment purposes, I will elaborate.
In the summer, the hubs is gone a lot. He works for a video/production firm and is traveling here, there, and everywhere on video shoots and getting to experience so many different places in the U.S. I can say openly that I am jealous, as traveling is a passion of both of ours. I'm so happy that he gets to do what he loves. But I am left to do my job at home, with the little monsters.
It's been during the last 3 weeks, of which he has been traveling TWO of those, that I have gotten a small taste of what so many of your lives as single parents is truly like. Granted, my other half has returned, so my situation was temporary. But let me just say. . .I feel ya! It's ROUGH!
I have NO IDEA how you all do it. The woes of normal parenthood seemed to be magnified. All the moments that I thought were already persistent pains in the arse were escalated to raging 2X4's the the skull.
We all know how much I've already felt like changing my name and moving to a foreign country lately. . . .but without the option of "daddy" in the house, the amount of times my name escaped my monsters lips was ear-splitting. I almost could not take a much needed private poo without someone moaning "Mooooommy...." from under the bathroom door. I've learned to do what was once always private, in full-view of an avid audience. I'm a performer, I tell ya. One of my many talents.
One thing that I realized in my time as a (temporary) single mom was that sacrifice is no longer a daily choice but now a 24/7 mandatory function. I take for granted that I can have moments of "alone time" to soak in the tub or go for a nightly run. I look forward to the times when I can tag-team my other half and have a non-interrupted conversation with a girlfriend on the phone. The last few weeks, those moments of regaining my emotional sanity have been WAY too few and far between. Without someone else to take the reigns now and again and let me collect myself, I've found I have a lot shorter fuse than I originally thought. I rarely answered the phone when it rang. . .I'd be ridiculous to think that I'd actually get to hold a full conversation with someone. My showers consisted of spraying down ever-so-quickly and poking my head out of the shower every 2 seconds to make sure that no one was screaming their foul head off. Forget shaving! That has become a luxury that I'm only able to afford in the baby wading pool in the backyard as the kiddos are splashing around. Yes. . .this is the only time that I could find the time to tame the forest that was growing on my legs. It was out of control ya'll.
Another thing I realized during this time was how much of parenthood is emotional and not as much behavioral. Let me explain. Anyone can go through the motions. Anyone can cook and bathe and launder and provide for a kids physical needs. Making sure that all of their emotional and spiritual needs are met is another beast entirely. I came to the conclusion that without help (and time to regroup, myself), I had very little to give. I recognize that being a single parent means that you have to take better care of yourself so that you are able to have something left over to offer your children. It's so much easier when there are two parents who are allowing each other moments of refreshment ever-so-often. But as I did it all alone, I had to schedule that time in more intensely, so that I didn't end up in a pile on the kitchen floor, crying over spilt juice. (yes, yes I did).
Another thing that I took for granted is how much balance having two parents brings to a kid's life. Please do not misconstrue my meaning here. I know many of us are in situations where it was more detrimental to have both parents around and being a single mom or dad turned out to be the ideal situation for a child. I grew up with a mom and dad who divorced in my tween years. I know firsthand how much the emotional scars can stick with a child whose parents could not get along. I also know how hard it was to have a hole in my life, where a father was supposed to be. I think as a mom, it's easy to think sometimes that since we are generally the ones that meet our children's most immediate emotional and physical needs, that being single wouldn't be that different than being married. Since I'm a stay-at-home mom, and the one who does 99% of the cooking, cleaning, bedtimes, and kissing boo-boos, I think I was lost in this reality. Daddy being away won't affect them much. He'll be back before they have time to miss him. Boy, was I wrong! During bedtimes, after I tucked the little boogers in and threatened them within an inch of their lives if they got up again, I hear whimpering and sniffles from my youngest. I return to find him crying to himself, whispering for his daddy. This is my "mama's boy"! The one who refuses to let daddy lay with him at naptime or rock him to sleep. My little man missed his daddy. It hit home pretty hard. I remember those nights. Those tears. And I was so thankful in that moment that what we were going through was only temporary. Daddy would return and all would be right again in his little world. But for so many others, that is not the case. And my heart hurts for the fact that sometimes, it's inevitable that there will be a whole left in a little one's life.
Lastly, I just wanted to acknowledge all of you moms and dads who do this daily. I had no idea how difficult it could be. I have so many friends who's spouses are in the military, and are in the middle of deployment. I have so many friends whose marriages have unfortunately not worked out. There are so many of you who wake up every morning and have to be supermom or superdad because you have no other choice. I seriously commend you for not tying your children to the couch and running off to happy hour everyday. There you are, working harder than I've ever had to do until these last few weeks. You inspire me. I want to give you a gold medal, a digital hug, and a cocktail the size of Texas. You are my heroes, and I'm sure, your little one's heroes too. Don't doubt for one minute that they won't grow up and realize the immense courage it took to do it all by yourself.
As for me, my normalcy is again intact. Luckily, my hubster returned today. I'm sure that the sight of me with bloodshot eyes and Afro, and the kids in meltdown mode was a warm welcome! I'm so thankful to have a partner through this journey. Not just someone who can give me a break once in a while, but someone who loves these little monsters just as ridiculously as I do. I won't be taking that for granted again any time soon.