“Parenting can be a real drain, even when sharing the misery with a spouse. Alone it was hard as fuck.”
All We Ever Wanted, Emily Giffin
I recently finished the book All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin and while I was reading the above quote really spoke to me. The weekend I started and finished this book – yes, it was so good that I finished it in two days – my husband was out of state at a bachelor party. I was at home with our two-year-old son doing the single-parent thing for three nights and four days. On any normal day my husband is beyond supportive when it comes to parenting and household chores.
Our son needs to go to the bathroom again? My husband takes him.
Dishes need to be washed after I make dinner? My husband does them.
Our son is misbehaving and I don’t have it in me to scold him for the umpteenth time that day for I fear he will look at me as the bad guy? My husband stands in.
Bath time? My husband does it.
And even though we share in all the duties, my husband is always thanking me for all that I do for our son and family to keep us moving like a well-oiled machine.
I think because I always have so much of his help his one weekend away felt like a lifetime. The stress could have been multiplied by the fact that our son is beyond obsessed with his dad (my husband). When our son wakes in the middle of the night only dad is allowed to comfort him. When my husband comes home from work for lunch I am sometimes left with a toddler screaming and crying “dada” over when he has to return to work for the remainder of the afternoon. I love how much our son loves his dad but it makes my job damn hard sometimes.
By Saturday afternoon, after three days of our son pushing me to the limit, I was waving the white flag. I called my husband and asked him if he could please wake up as early as possible the next day and come home. He did. He is simply amazing.
I tell you all of this because this one weekend of solo parenting really opened my eyes to what some parents go through on a daily basis. It also gives me a much larger appreciation for my husband and how much I truly need him to survive this crazy life of ours. Parenting is one of those things you cannot fully comprehend or understand until you experience it first hand. It is not only the most rewarding thing I have ever done but also the most challenging. And no, this is not me complaining. I would never trade my current life for my old one. There is nothing I love more than being a mom. This is just me recognizing that single-parenting brings the parenting game to whole ‘nother level. Having a partner to hand-off your child to for a five-minute break is crucial, but I realize that not everyone has that luxury. Family can help out, yes, but it definitely is not the same.
When you’re a single parent you are your child’s person. You are their personal chef and stylist; the tickle monster, hide and seek partner and daily entertainer. You are their shoulder to cry on and person who kisses their boo-boos to make them better. You are their bath time entertainment, house cleaner, laundry and dish washer, personal assistant and problem solver. You are the grocery shopper, toy finder, and taxi driver; the person that has to get up in the middle of the night to scare the monsters away and cuddle them back to sleep and who has to get up to get milk when they wake in the morning.
Navigating this parenting game with a partner is hard enough. It is astronomically more exhausting doing it as a single parent, whether for a few days, months, or years.
So I raise this imaginary glass of wine to you, single parents. I see you. I empathize with you. I commend you. You wear many hats and I’ll be damned if someone ever gives you (or me) a hard time for not doing it perfectly when you’re doing the best you can.