A Parenting Singularity
This last Sunday I posted a piece on Rene Syler’s Good Enough Mother (he said with shameless self-promotion) on what it’s like to be a single father, particularly over the holidays. It did spark some healthy discussion – which if you’d like to read is linked here.
Some of the social media discussion centered around what it’s like to be a single parent. Being honest, I didn’t make a distinction between those who choose to be single parents -either through choice, divorce, or other situation – and those who have it thrust upon them. I’m the latter example there. I’d like to think, though, that for many of us out there doing it alone the distinction doesn’t really have to be made.
Sure, there are parents out there that obviously don’t have the equipment, mental capacity or even the patience to do this, I suppose. I’ve had friends who lost a parent only to see the sole parental unit in their home shut down nearly permanently. That doesn’t help, either. Some rely on an older child to take over a lot of the chores or cooking or what have you.
These kids, though (with the exception of the baby, she’s my niece), haven’t had that requirement. My oldest didn’t cook. She didn’t do the laundry. She did watch the other three when they got home from school but they all went to an after-school program until 5 or 6pm. That being the case they didn’t require a whole lot of excess attention in the home. I was home within a couple hours.
Still . . . there’s a theme that comes to the fore that one person put to me fairly succinctly.
This was from a woman who had one child. As she put it “I can’t imagine what it’s like with four.”
Relentless is a great word. It’s a descriptive word. It is the best descriptive word in this case.
I have gone over the details in past posts, but I’ll give you a brief rundown of what makes it such an unrelenting process:
I needed to lose weight and get better health for my heart. It was partially due to need and mostly due to the fact that my kids needed to see that I was serious about staying around, even though their Mom had passed away. The ONLY time I have to work out is 5:30 or 6am. So that’s where my day begins. That is followed by making breakfast, showering, getting ready for work, ensuring they have their morning ready and getting them out the door. I drop the twins at school then my middle daughter. I occasionally check in with my oldest kid at her college.
Next . . . it’s work. 8 hours, 9 hours, however many hours work takes each day.
I come home, change into jeans and a comfortable shirt and make dinner. During this I get a dissertation of exactly how awful the school day was . . . from each kid in turn.
We eat at the table, I crack the whip, oversee that they all did their homework. Many weeks I have some kids’ project that has to be done.
I get them to bed, do the tucking-in, remind them every 15 minutes they’re supposed to be asleep.
Then I make lunches for them and me so I don’t have to do it in the morning. I have the TV on as this is the only time I have to catch up on the 28 hours of DVR-stored television programs.
So . . . why? That’s the next question I get.
The answer I always give? I never asked myself that question. They are my kids. They didn’t ask for this. This isn’t the life they chose but I was one of two people who chose to let them have life. Should they suffer because I don’t know what I’m doing?
No, by the way, should be the answer.
I already knew how to cook . . . I forced myself to cook more. We cannot do anywhere near the outside activities – no basketball or boy scouts or other things. So we hit the theater a lot. We go out of town, to San Francisco or the Big Trees. I take them all over with me. It’s a blast and we have this time . . . together.
I cook and I clean and I try to give them close to what I had growing up – a family that was tight and friendly and loving. It’s not the same, it couldn’t be, but it’s using the example.
That . . . using what skills I have and taking the relentless pummeling from the daily grind . . . is certainly worth the effort.