I see you, single parents. You're racing to work and baseball practice and dance class and karate feeling frazzled like the rest of us, only more so. You're being pulled in every possible direction, trying to please everyone, but you worry that, despite your best efforts, you're not pleasing anyone. But relax, take a deep breath. I see you and I see your kids. They're happy, they're dressed, they're fed, and they're on time to their activities (well, most of the time). That's the best that any parent can hope for most days. You're doing this, and you're doing it alone. And that is hard. And you are amazing. On any given day you are teacher, cheerleader, taxi driver, nurse, judge, and coach. You support, challenge, discipline, guide, and inspire.
Sure, you may use more paper plates than you'd like to admit because the dishes are piling up in the sink, and sometimes you're so busy that you forget to eat. Also some days you're just so exhausted- the kind of exhausted that makes you wish you were a celebrity so you could check yourself into the hospital to be treated for exhaustion (why can't we normal people do that?). But you've got this.
How do I know all this, you ask? Recently I've found myself joining your ranks, temporarily, while my husband works out of state. He's been gone four months, and I've gotten just a taste of what it's like to be on my own with my sons. I've always admired single parents but now I have absolutely no doubt: you are the real MVPs.
During the four months that my husband has been gone, my kids have been sicker than they've been in years. I've been sicker than I've been in years. I've also gotten a flat tire and dealt with the only plumbing problem that we've ever had (damn you, Murphy!). The boys started baseball too- in two different locations at the same time. And little things have started to go wrong. I swear every single light bulb in the house has blown in the last month. And it's all on me, on top of work and taking care of the kids and regular life stuff. I can't call for back-up. But you know what? I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Back-up is on the way. The boys and I will follow my husband to our new place in a couple of weeks and I will soon be a co-parent again instead of a single parent.
But you, my single parent warrior friends, you don't have such a luxury. Single parenthood is your reality all.the.time.
Here's what I've decided: Those of us who aren't single parents need to step up. We need to help out our single parent friends. Let's offer to babysit their kids so they can have a night off or go for a run or take a shower in peace. Show up at your girlfriend's house with a bottle of wine and do her laundry. I know we're all busy and overwhelmed, but I can tell you, from first-hand experience now, that no one is busier or more overwhelmed than a single parent, especially one with no family around to lend a hand. So why don't we lend a hand? After all, it really does take a village, or as I like to think of it, a community.