Sunday, August 16, 2015

Monday Momfessions: The "Temporary Single Parent" Version

When I first learned my husband was setting out on a journey to better our family by studying for a tough exam and earning his promotion, I had visions of pre-prepped meals ready for his 10 minutes of daily freedom, smiling children who left him notes of encouragement, and kindness and understanding from our many one-sided conversations during these seven weeks. Here's how it really went:

1. Chicken nugget dinner count: approximately 3 times weekly. With fries or tots and no vegetables. Likely dessert as bribery. Also, Lunchables. So many Lunchables.

2. Weeping. Them. Me. In corners. On highways. Over the phone. With strangers. So much weeping.

3. Speaking of weeping: if you were driving SMP on a Sunday and saw a Mom slumped over her wheel in a Fritz's cardboard hat, that was me.  I may have been trying to put my foot down on the calypso/Kindermusik obsession in the car 24/7. This was on day 41. You know who won...

4. Lots of leaning on the village, especially in the form of two grandparents. For venting and relief pitching.

5. Plans with friends - so we could all stay sane and love one another.

6. Key phrases: "Pull your pants up." "Put it away." "Wait until I share that report with Daddy." "Daddy is studying." "Yes Daddy will still be grumpy. Mommy too." "Mommy's doing the best she can." "We'll have to wait for Daddy to fix that." "Where do we keep the pans?" "One shoes seems good enough." "When is the last time you brushed your teeth?"Why are you doing that?" "Why are you doing that?" "WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?! YOU WOULDN'T DO THAT FOR DADDY!" And so on.

7. Surprisingly, significant anger from our gentle one at bedtime. A boy gains so much benefit from the warmth, love and wrestling of his father.

8. Letting strangers tie shoes, hold your items in the checkout line, give you a knowing glance, wipe sweat from your brow, push your child in a swing, etc. Ah, the kindness of strangers.

9. Injuries. Broken toe, bruises and aching ego. Now on the Kindle: "Raising a Spirited Child." (To be clear, these were mommy injuries after a certain toddler couldn't quite find his words so used other objects to show how he felt). Related: illnesses that required hospitalization for the wee ones. Of course. Grateful everyone is on the mend!

10. Bitterness: like stare in the dark of the poor man who had just studied until 2 a.m. and consider placing a poopy diaper under his pillow kind of death stare.

Isn't that shameful?!

Don't get me wrong: the past two months have been wrought with awesome moments, watching our toddler's vocabulary blossom, the way he dances down to breakfast in the morning and the warmest hugs at the end of the day. And the oldest? So incredibly helpful without being asked, remarkable art skills and such deep conversations you think you're chatting with a 20-something.

I still haven't quite digested or let myself sit silently to let the disappointment of who I was as a mother and spouse these last several weeks. I do remember nearly daily feeling like I wasn't competent, didn't have the tools and was failing miserably as a parent. After all, my pals with traveling spouses, actually doing it as a single parent or with traditional roles make it look like a piece of cake. Meanwhile, I was crumbling each evening...and that's working full-time, having only been with my kids about 3-5 hours a day. Ashamed. I feel totally ashamed.

At the end of each day, water welled behind my eyes, the need to apologize to each child feeling like a heavy weight on my chest. Then they'd look at me and tell a joke, ask for another book, snack or water and in that moment I'd know: they felt loved. They still felt loved.

And that, my friends, is all I could ask for.

To all the parents out there who have or are doing it singly - whether it's always, sometimes or somewhere in between: you're amazing. I will never know how you do it all with such grace and confidence, but I can only hope to grow and learn from such a gracious human being as you. And may you always know that at the end of your days, it's love that counts. And you are loved.

And to Daddy: we wouldn't change a thing. We are so proud of you have always been incredibly grateful for you. Now having walked even more miles in your shoes, it's tenfold. We love you.

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