Adventures In Solo Parenting
"How is being a single parenting going?"
It was an innocent question. There was nothing loaded about it, just a sincere inquiry.
But, it rubbed me the wrong way.
My husband travels for four weeks every summer as part of his (awesome) job. The plan was to have our daughter and I join him this year but after that tiny digital screen read "pregnant" last February, our plans changed.
So, off he went and here we stayed. My daughter and I. And two dogs. And a five-month pregnant belly that has taken on a life and personality of it’s own. I knew there would be challenges, but we rallied last year, this year would be no different.
I am surrounded by friends and family. I made plans to keep us busy. I developed a routine that allowed for flexibility but also predictability. I made sure my daughter understood that daddy was coming back and that momma wasn’t going to leave as well.
I reiterate daily that daddy is coming back.
Because, I am not a single parent.
A single parent does what I do for four weeks, alone. They don’t have morning phone calls to look forward to. They don’t have a calendar counting down the days until their partner will return and life will go back to normal.
Solo parenting IS a single parent’s normal. It isn’t just an annual summer adventure. It isn’t a test of their strengths or a 28-day reminder that they are capable of going it alone.
I am not, was not, a single parent.
I am parenting our child solo physically but I always have the emotional support I need from my husband. During a particular trying situation he called to say hi. After hearing about our trying day he talked to our daughter for a few minutes. He was able to work out what she was dealing with and ultimately remedy the situation.
He co-parented from 1,700 miles away because I am not a single parent.
My single mother raised me and my sister for nearly a decade before she remarried. She had a great support system but ultimately she was the sole caregiver for her two very young daughters. She made all the decisions on her own. From how to potty train to what to have for dinner every night, she didn’t have someone, be it at home or miles away, to consult. We grew up as products of her choices, no one else’s.
When the bills were due and money was tight, she didn’t have someone to help her figure out the family budget. After my sister and I went to sleep, she didn’t have someone to sit on the couch with and decompress after a tough day. She was a single mom. She had herself and us.
After I tuck my daughter into bed I can curl up on the couch and grab my phone. Within minutes I can share the details of my day, the hard parts, the funny parts, the mundane, with my husband. I get to hear about his day. We get to connect, vent, and decompress together.
Because I am not a single parent.
My adventure in solo parenting will come to an end. Our family will once again be geographically together. Our separate adventures will come to a close and the household responsibilities will once again go back to being split down the middle.
I will be able to take a Saturday afternoon nap without having to bribe or negotiate with my daughter. I will be able to take a shower in the morning while she and my husband have breakfast together. The dogs will go back to their routine nightly walk and I will once again be able to use the bathroom completely alone. With the door shut.
But, most of all, I will have my husband back. He will be here to hold me when I am sad. I will get to see his smile when I tell him about our day. I will be able to see his gestures as he talks about his. Our daughter will have her beloved daddy back. Our house won’t feel so empty, that missing piece will fill back in.
"I am doing OK. So far the kiddo and I are mostly just having fun," I answer. Deciding that explaining why I am not a single parent may just be too long of an answer for such an innocent question. "My adventures in solo parenting will be over soon. Thank you so much for asking."
Michelle writes from the home she shares with her husband, their 3-year-old daughter and two dogs. She is the authority on nothing and may just be the most outgoing shy person you will ever meet. Her daughter is convinced she is a super hero but most days she feels more like the super villain. Read more of her work on her blog at www.JuiceboxConfession.com All love letters can be sent to JuiceboxConfession@gmail.com.