In a small capacity, I have recently been humbled by experiencing life as a single parent. Minus the extra income and having to worry about daycare, I have seen what our life without a father and partner would look like. The number one word I would use to sum up this experience is EXHAUSTING. I love my children, but simplest things become a challenge, especially with a newborn; Grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, making supper, bedtime routines, socializing, taking time for oneself, finding constructive ways of dealing with anger all become more complicated and emotionally taxing.
I have so much respect for parents whom are raising their children on their own, for whatever reason. Taking the time to listen to your children is hard when all you feel like doing is locking yourself in the bathroom and crying. I’m sure it gets easier but in cases where parents have limited outside support, the wear and tear to the soul must be immense at times. I love being able to share my parenting joys and frustrations with my partner, and I love hearing his thoughts and feelings on what is happening in our family. In my partners absence, friends and family helped by filling in the gaps in order for me to stay a sane parent.
In my experience, one of the only things that got easier in being a pseudo single parent was the cleaning. It’s no secret that my partner is a clutter bug and in his time away I have found that my housework load decreased substantially. With that said, I would still much rather have his involvement in our family in exchange for a few more messes to clean (I do have my limits though).
To those who are parenting on their own, I pay homage to you! May you find the support you need to breath, the patience you need to listen, the money you need to eat and the time you need to sleep.
P.S. You can wear your baby doing many chores, but draw the line at mowing the lawn.
I have two sons. One I have known for over four years and the other I have only known for six months minus a week. My oldest son was a highly active baby that made himself known all hours of the day and night. He would not fall asleep unless my husband or I rocked him for a good half an hour before bed, and even then he’d wake up ever hour or two. I suffered from intense postpartum, which looking back, was made worse by the overwhelming lack of sleep. Though I wanted more children, we put off having a second for fear of a repeat performance of that first year.
Finally, a month after my thirtieth birthday and over three years after having my first child we went for it; nine months later my youngest son was born. It may sound far fetched, but from in the womb I could tell he was an easy going baby. Unfortunately for him, “easy” has sometimes meant getting lost behind his brother’s larger than life personality. Through no fault of my oldest son, we have sometimes neglected to spend the same “getting to know you time” with our youngest as we did with our first. It’s not that we are ignoring our youngest, I am just aware of the struggle over ensuring that his growing personality does not get overshadowed by his older brother.
Finding the balance in love, time and energy spent is a tough job for most parents, especially when children compete for your time. A good teacher tries to find ways to engage not just the eager to participate but the children who are acutely quiet. As a parent, I want to see both my boys have a platform to express themselves while feeling heard and valued. While my youngest isn’t even talking yet, I am excited to get to know his personality. For now I take comfort in that I am committed to finding a balance for my children as I want them both to have voices in our family.
P.S. If you sit in silence long enough even whisper sounds like yelling.