Every parent who has the benefit of a reliable co-parent asks themselves this question at one time or another. As you move through your day attempting work, laundry, dinner and wiping unidentifiable goo off of things while the phone rings nonstop and the baby cleverly learns how to release herself from her highchair straps, you may think to yourself, “what would I do right now if I had to do this alone?”
I remember a time when I had to find the match to 75 rogue mini socks. It took me HOURS. My husband who dutifully took care of the children had to toss me power bars to ensure my survival. I was grateful for his support and even more thankful that he also put the children to bed, which is the most joyful, thoughtful thing anyone can ever do for me, thus allowing me to watch “Grey’s Anatomy”, further allowing me to contemplate the fact that if I ever saw one of those doctors coming near me in a hospital I would run for my life. Whatever. I was happy for the break.
And then life decided to throw me a curve ball. These past few months my husband was M.I.A because of a new job that took him away for the better part of the summer. I, being someone who never shies away from a challenge, looked at it as an opportunity for me to bond with my girls and get to know them on a 24/7 in your face at all times, “Momma can I come to the bathroom with you” kind of way. This will be a fruitful and enlightening experience for all of us! Plus I play a single mother on the Nick Jr. show “Dino Dan”. What a great research opportunity for me to discover the true pleasures of single parenting. Also, I had no choice.
I’ve never been more dirty or frazzled. I swear by 8:30pm each night I looked like feral cat. One night I ate a rotisserie chicken standing over the sink. The whole chicken, down to the bone, possibly including some of the tinier bones. I also might have been crying. Scratch that. I was definitely crying.
In order to overcompensate for their dad being away I spent the better part of the summer driving across Ontario to fun destinations. On one of our last trips to visit my parents, my father took me aside to inquire about the back seat of my car. It looked like we were living in it and he was worried. I finally had to admit my soothing “travel technique” for the children was opening up boxes of dry goods and throwing food at them. On a particularly bad trip I stopped for Jugo juices and just handed them to the kids, who are four and one. No transferring the beverages into sippy cups, just full on trust in their motor skills. Within 40 seconds they were both drenched in “Berry Binge”. I didn’t care, I just kept on driving.
But for the most part I really held it together. Oh, except for that one time after a particularly long stretch of solo parenting where I leaned against the front door and flat out told my 4 year old that, “sometimes it’s really hard to be a Mommy.” I was truly shocked and impressed by her empathetic response as she put her hand on my arm and said “It’s okay Momma.” That was about 2 months ago and every so often she likes to say,
“Momma remember that time when you leaned on the door and said it was really hard to be a Momma?”
“Yes, sweetheart, can we let it go?”
“But remember when you said that? I told my teacher you said that and she looked kind of sad.”
“Okay Honey, seriously, that’s just something Momma said when she was very tired. I love being your Mommy.”
“Yeah, that’s what Emma’s Mom said when I told her you said that.”
So when my husband finally arrived home from his job I greeted him like he had been in Afghanistan for 2 years – seriously HOW do army wives do it? My husband was just traveling around building playgrounds for God’s sake. I can’t imagine having to do all the child rearing AND dwell in the constant state of terror that my partner’s life was on the line. Hats off ladies. There should be a special medal for you too. And it should have a lot of hearts and colors and pointy star things and stripes.
I know practice makes perfect but I’m pretty sure I’d be in training for 30 years to pull this solo parenting thing off. So if you know a single mother offer to carry her around on a throne for a few hours. And throw a single dad on there for good measure. Or even better, take their kids for five minutes so that they can pee alone for the first time in years. Trust me, it’s the small miracles that count.