Single Parents, I Salute You

I don’t know how you do it.


You all deserve a medal. Or a hug. Or a national holiday in your honor, with guaranteed babysitting for the day so you can lounge poolside and have a margarita without worrying if your kid is too close to the edge of the pool.

I’m just finishing up a six day solo-parenting gig and I’m exhausted. (Aaron was in California at San Diego Comic-Con, where ironically the weather was much cooler than the melt-your-face-off heat wave we had in Ohio.) I love my children dearly, but nothing tests your love for your children quite like 6 days alone with them.

Actually, it wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t on a nocturnal schedule due to my job, and my children weren’t on a beat-the-rooster-to-the-punch schedule. This equated to mommy dragging her tired self downstairs before the sun was up, making them breakfast, turning on the TV, and then collapsing on the couch while promising extra gummy snacks at lunch to whichever child could be the quietest for the next couple of hours. You might be surprised how many “who can be the quietest” game rewards you can think up when you’re half-delirious from sleep deprivation.

I was raised by a single mom, so you’d think I’d have some tricks on how to do it solo. Growing up, my mom worked 40+ hours a week, cooked meals, cleaned our house, paid bills, mowed the lawn, helped me with my school homework, went grocery shopping, attended my school events, and yet somehow still had time to sit on the couch with me and watch TV in the evenings. I’m convinced she’s secretly a cyborg who doesn’t require sleep.

Yet six days proved me to be nothing like her. I was short with my girls more than once. OK, more than once each day. Maybe even each hour, depending on the time of day. At times I felt like they were trying to make me lose my temper. The house did not stay clean. The laundry did not get done until Cordy ran out of shorts to wear. Paper plates became my best friends. On the third day, Cordy cried that she missed her daddy when I yelled at her. I didn’t cry about missing him until the fifth day.

But the end is now in sight. And we did have some fun during these six days, too. We made ice cream together. We went shopping for toys and t-shirts at the Disney store in the mall. (Mira then begged to go into Victoria’s Secret when we walked past it – uh-oh.) We sat together in a heap on the couch and read Thomas the Tank Engine stories. We had dinner with grandma one night, where the girls performed the “I love grandma and mommy” dance for us. Cordy drew a picture of us with a heart above us and the words “I love you mom” written below, asking me to display it to work. (I did.) And each night I tucked each of them into bed and kissed them goodnight, reminding them that even though we sometimes get upset with each other, I will always love them no matter what.

It wasn’t so bad. But I’m still glad I don’t have to do it longer than six days. And I’m looking forward to getting my time away at BlogHer next week.

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  1. jerseygirl89 says:

    It sounds like you did a great job. I really don’t know how single parents do it either. I had to do it once for 2 weeks and by the last few days I was getting fast food for dinner every night because I couldn’t face shopping or cooking. And yes, your mom most be a cyborg. :)

  2. I don’t know how single parents do it either, they must be made out of tougher stuff than me. And I agree that they deserve their own day. My husband worked opposite shifts from me for a year and a half and my kids were seriously spoiled in that time because I didn’t have the energy to say no to all their requests.

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