It never ceases to amaze me how many times I find myself thinking, “This is the hardest part of being a single parent.” In reality, it’s probably safe to say that most aspects of single parenting are difficult and deciding what the worst of it is, usually depends on the circumstances you are facing at the time.
Last Thursday, I found myself scrambling to fit my 36 hour day into the allotted 24 and late in the afternoon when it was time to pick the kids up from school (my own, and the neighbour children whom I refer to as, “my other children.”) I found myself thinking about how much easier my day could be if only I had a partner to assist with the logistics of it all while I finished up my work for the day, crossed my errands off the never-ending list and carted the children around from school, to the guitar shop, to their Valentine’s Day photo-shoot, then back to school for Parent-Teacher interviews, then dinner and homework and guitar practice and… well, like I said, it’s a never-ending list.
Friday came around, which meant I was confronted with a PD day and the realities of trying to successfully occupy a 5 year old for the length of the day while struggling to make time for the ‘working’ aspect of my Work-at-Home-Mom title. As the children rushed around, destroying my house and invading my personal space, again I thought, “It would be so nice to have somebody to distract the children for just a little while so I can finish some proofs and send off some emails.”I thought, “The worst part of being single (work-at-home) parent is that everything falls on my shoulders. I am expected to be superwoman and supermom and I am just not capable of that.”
- I was the only one that had to struggle with making The LD actually eat something.
- We battled the remnants of the chest infection and feeling crummy.
- I am the only one being bombarded with disrespect and rudeness. (Due to the whole feeling crummy and being tired from a long day, thing.)
- I am the only one that has to set three alarms during the night to make an attempt at nighttime potty training AND get up during the night terrors - like usual.
- Who gets to deal with all the whining and crying, which starts in the wee hours of the morning? Me.
- Have to drag The LD (and the neighbour children) to the grocery store. I need three things – it takes AN HOUR AND A HALF.
- Struggle to find a healthy balance between what he should be eating and what he will actually eat. Repeat three times.
For all of those circumstances (and probably a hundred more throughout the day) I constantly think to myself that this is the hardest part of doing it all alone – and in every situation, I adamantly believe it in the moment.
It’s not that it is all bad. In fact, life as a single parent is very generously balanced out by countless rewarding experiences. Countless.
Having a 5 year old kindergartener that reads at an advanced 1st grade level? I’m proud of that because I know I’m the one that helped him achieve that.
Having a child that goes to his hockey practice every Monday night even though he’d rather stay home? I know he continues to follow through with it because of all our talks about commitment and teamwork.
Having a boy who is wise beyond his years, yet maintains the playfulness and curiosity of any child his age? That isn’t something that can be achieved through long-distance (or absent) parenting. That was all us – just The LD and I.
There is so much more to the single parenting experience that is rewarding, than there is that is difficult and yet I find myself so frustrated by it on such a consistant basis.
Once in a while though, you have an experience that puts it all in perspective and I can definitely say I had a big one this weekend. Having your chlid end up in the emergency room for a serious breathing issue is terrifying. It scares you into removing all of those mental blocks.
So now, I’m trying to remind myself to let the small things go and to just roll with the punches.
I don’t want to let the anger or frustration of having to do it all alone outweigh the joy and the satisfaction of the parenting experience itself.
It’s a terrifying to think that I may wake up in 20 years and realize that I missed out on his entire life because I was so focused on what I didn’t have, or how it wasn’t easy, all because I’m angry at myself.
At the situation.
…at his father.
This weekend reminded me that while I am allowed to feel angry, sometimes I need to remind myseld to take that anger and set it aside so I can live my life. Preferably, outside of the little resentment bubble that I’ve been building up for 6 years.Come to think of it, maybe that’s the hardest part of being a single parent.
Sometimes, all you need is a little perspective.