Solo parenting is hard. Exhausting. Nerve-wracking. Often thankless.
But it’s kind of wonderful, too.
Consider these seven things I might not have experienced were I not the must have parent:
7. Hearing “Mom!”(and not “Dad!”) every time someone is sad, hurt or scared. No parent wants to see or hear their child unhappy, but being the person they cry for, again and again, makes you feel pretty special. I love knowing that my children turn to me first -- even though I hate that just as much for my husband. It’s an incredible feeling to know that these little people have absolute faith in my ability to make everything okay for them. Everyone should get to experience that.
6. Hyper competence. Was it fun to learn to change a tire, install a thermostat, hire contractors, sell houses, buy houses, find doctors, schools and babysitters, fix leaky pipes, tutor in math, and all that other stuff, all by myself? No. Of course it wasn’t fun. But now I know that I can do all of those things and that makes me feel really confident and proud of myself.
5. My children’s absolute admiration. Similarly, my kids think I know and can do most anything. They ask me the most absurd questions, questions that -- if I really did know the answers -- would earn me dominating scores on “Jeopardy!” because, as the kids say, “you know everything, Mom.” (Thank God for Google!) I’m sure my kids won’t always think that way about me, but it’s sure nice right now.
4. Always getting my way. I admit it -- I like not having to always be negotiating or deferring to my husband’s opinion. In fact, in my house, most of the time we do things my way. Not because I insist on it, but because I’m the one who’s here to make the decisions.
3. Silly rituals. When my husband is deployed, my kids and I have “Pizza Party Movie Night” every Friday. Tuesdays are “Fondues-days.” At least once a week we have breakfast for dinner. On their birthdays we have “Breakfast Birthday Parties" -- complete with decorations -- before they go school. The first kid in bed every night gets to have a long, lying in bed in the dark, conversation with me on any topic of their choosing. During thunderstorms they all crawl into my bed and we pile under the covers to watch the lightning, pretending that it’s “God’s fireworks show.” On Sundays we all wear our pajamas until lunch time, and so forth. We make the most of the times my husband is gone by doing things differently. I like to think that when my kids are grown these will all be wonderful memories.
2. Absolute gratitude for the times when I’m away. Perhaps no one on the planet enjoys traveling alone, even if it’s just for work, more than I do. Sometimes I drive by the airport and just sigh wistfully. Seriously. For me, sleeping alone between a hotel’s crisp white sheets is pure ecstasy. I honestly enjoy waiting in line at the rental car desk. The anticipation of getting to drive a tiny car that wouldn’t accommodate two car seats and a 10-year-old makes me giddy. I love seeing other people’s luggage going around on the baggage claim carousel, knowing that I’m only responsible for collecting my one bag. I adore dining alone in a restaurant. The thrill of not having to correct anyone’s behavior or cut up anyone’s food never gets old. With whole days of having to only tend to myself, I really don’t even care what it is that I’m in that city to do. I suspect that I would feel differently about all of these things if they were a more frequent part of my life, but always having kids in my face and always being responsible for little people makes me truly appreciate the times when I’m off duty.
1. Everything. I get to experience nearly every little thing in my kids’ lives, and most of the big things, too. From the first crushes to the skinned knees to the speaking parts in assemblies to the Field Days, to the school bus dramas to, well, everything. I’m there for it.
The truth is, there are many more than seven blessings but I had to stop this list somewhere. This is a column, not an e-book.
What are some of the blessings solo parenting has brought to your life?