R-E-S-P-E-C-T: A Married Father's Salute To Solo ParentsSerge Bielanko
First off, I’m glad the weekend is over.
I’ve never said that before and I doubt I’ll be saying it again anytime soon.
But this time it’s true. My wife Monica went away last Thursday morning for three days and left me in charge of our two kids.
Fair enough. She deserved the trip, of course, and I am a competent enough dad to handle most stuff.
But as her Mega-Bus pulled into the Walmart parking lot on Saturday evening and I could finally holler to the kids (who had been strapped in their car seats for like 30 minutes…we were that anxious for her return!), “LOOK! THERE’S THE BUS FROM NEW YORK CITY! THERE’S THE BUS WITH MOMMY ON IT!” I was overcome with gratitude and pure carnal joy.
The kids had been pretty good and the days had gone as smoothly as any dad could have hoped for, but knowing she was just a few seconds away from being back in our little fold felt like the first electric sip of wine after a grueling day.
Because two is easier than one, people.
I grew up in a single-parent household for a good portion of my childhood. And my mom obviously had her hands full with two boys needing rides to Little League and Cub Scouts and her working full-time jobs and trying to be be around for us to make dinner every single night while we were beating each other without mercy in the living room.
Still, you don’t think about those things when you’re young.
And you shouldn’t have to really.
I mean, yeah, there were times when I could hear her bawling behind her bedroom door, when my brother and I would whisper at her through the wood, “Can we come in,” and then we’d kiss her and tell her it was going to be okay, but we didn’t understand how so damn difficult life was for her back then as a single parent trying her hardest.
We recognized her blues, but we were unsure what to do with them.
Now, though, I try more.
Being alone for a few days with two toddlers who need supervision every 38 seconds is, without a doubt, the hardest work I have ever done. And trust me, I have known some serious labor, taxing bosses, excessive hours, crappy pay, and ripped up hands that hurt as you’re trying to fall asleep at night.
The first time Monica went away for a couple of days and left me to helm the ship, the kids both got so sick that my whole trial-by-fire weekend was just a question of keeping them alive. I didn’t have any downtime to actually consider the mountains being scaled on a daily basis by single parents or stay-at-home solo artists who do this job every damn day.
But this time I kept reminding myself of that reality.
This time, I was able to calm my snapping nerves and ease my sense of isolated panic by reminding myself that, in just 30 hours or 16 hours or whatever, Mom would come home. And then there would be two of us to tackle this thing. Together.
That seems so easy to say now. It seems almost too simple to write it down, to pat myself on the back because I made it through three typical days where not much happened, and to concede that I’m just now coming out the other end with some new found respect for the moms and dads all over the world who do it all of the time.
But I can’t stop thinking about it today and that is the truth.
Sometimes I wish my ship would come in. Some days I spend half of my waking hours scheming and dreaming, trying to figure out how to make my life this much better or that much better. Truth is though, most of us rarely stop to realize how good we have it, compared to so many others out there in the world, sailing their valuable ships all alone across treacherous waters, never stopping for even a minute to feel sorry for themselves or bitch about it.
I’m glad I had that little epiphany this weekend. It’s good to have stuff like that now and then.
So a tip of a stranger’s hat to all y’all single parents out there.
You know who you are.