Family Friday: single parents

I admire single parents. Whether you’re legally single (divorced, never married, widowed, whatever) or just sometimes single (spouse/partner works long hours, out of town, out of state, overseas, etc.), I really admire you. One kid or twenty, infants or teenagers, all boys/just girls/a mix, it doesn’t matter. I really, really admire you.

How do you do it?

My husband and I are both home in the evenings. We only have two children, and we sometimes feel like we need to have a third adult in the house. Or a fourth. One of us will be dealing with something non-kid related, another will be helping child “A” with homework, and we need somebody riding herd on child “B.” (Probably because child “B” is the one who’s prone to jumping on the couch or off the walls.) Stir the supper that’s on the stove, double check a geography question for one child, put away two clean dishes, answer an algebra question for the other kid, start getting stuff out to make lunches for the next day, check a history question for the third child, trip over the cat, stir supper again, yell at one of the kids to get into/out of the bath, try to read through part of the pile of papers the school likes to send home, make sure the coffee pot is set to auto-brew in the morning, start braiding another child’s hair for “Crazy Hair Day” at school tomorrow. Wait, we only have two kids. Why does it seem like we have five kids in here? We feel like we’re meeting ourselves coming and going, and we sometimes collapse into bed at the end of the night thinking “Hallelujah, we survived another day.”

Seriously: how do you do it???

How do you manage to keep yourself and your child(ren) bathed, clothed in something clean, and fed? How do you keep a house (and possibly a job), help with homework, answer questions, get clothes cleaned and put away, and get food into yourself and the kids? Apparently, you also sleep. How is that possible?

There are nights (when our girls are yammering away at us or each other, somebody’s in a bad mood, a major project is due tomorrow and we weren’t told about it until this evening, etc.) that we’ll look at each other and go, “One day, the house will be quiet. Everything will stay put away, nobody will be asking us for anything, and we’ll have loads of free time. And it’s going to be boring. One day, we’re going to miss this. But, not today.” And that’s with two of us here to handle it!

So, if you’re a single parent, I just want to say: good job! Whether your home is spotless or bordering on being declared a disaster area, whether you cook all of your meals or are on a first-name basis with the people at the local fast food place, whether you look like a fashion magazine spread or barely manage to put on enough clothing to not get arrested for indecent exposure, you’re doing a great job. You haven’t given your children up, you haven’t run screaming into the night. You’re making it, and that’s amazing.

I really admire you.

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