Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How do single parents do it?

I'm coming up on two weeks of being alone with the kids. Natali is 12 and is a great help, so she doesn't really count as a kid, but the boys are 1 and 5, so they almost count for three kids.

Oh. My. God. What gets me the most is that I am "on call" 24-7. When El Guapo wakes up and wanders around the apartment in the middle of the night; when he poops in the tub; when Christian pours a cup of sand onto the floor from his shoes; when they are thirsty, hungry, sad, tired. When they miss their mom.

My mom has come by a few times to help, and Natali is a great support. With them, it's a very unenviable life, and without them, barely feasible. I have worked with colleagues, doctors and otherwise, who are single parents, and they tend to have lots and lots of sick days. I fully understand why. There is just no respite from single parenthood.

At night, when it's all over and the kids are sleeping like little angels, I stand there for a while and congratulate myself on making it through another day. Then I cross off an imaginary day on the countown-to-the-Girl calendar. And then I sneak off to pick up the apartment, fill the dishwasher, fold laundry, write a few emails. When I get back to bed, the little slugs have rotated 1200 degrees around the bed. Picking them up is like lifting anti-matter. If I am able to push them apart, they slither back toward the center of the bed like heat-seeking missiles. I end up squeezing myself in between the two pink, mouth-breathing eels.

But it's not all bad. Christian has, surprisingly, stepped up to the situation. He gets up first thing in the morning; not after encouragement followed by orders, followed by screaming, followed by poking, followed by carrying a newly caught Alaskan salmon out of the bed. No, he gets up and walks into the bathroom to have his teeth brushed. It's like he knows I'm stressed out and that messing with me is not a good idea.

Then, he carries the two Nutella rolls down to the bike trailer and feeds one to Mattias. He even makes sure Mattias doesn't drop the roll. At night, he behaves really well and had helped me scold Mattias a few times. I am very impressed.

Meanwhile, Natali is going through emotional hell. It's her last week in school, so she is saying goodbye to her friends of four years. She is most likely never coming back here, and up until lately, she pretended to be fine with that. Then a few nights ago, she said that coming back here for 7th grade wouldn't be too bad. Of course she is nervous; she is starting middle school in La Crosse in two months, poor thing. She is saying goodbye to her entire life here. Her cavelike room, with her guitar, drawings and Beatles posters, is forever to be abandoned.

I struggle with this. Being around Natti every day speaks to me on such a deep primate level. Seeing the world through her eyes is such a privilege; I am 100% in denial of the fact that it's coming to an end.

Moving to Duluth is exciting, of course. Make no mistake. I found a good job there. Nay, a great job, that I can't wait to start. I have always loved Duluth and the thought of starting a life from scratch there is tantalizing.

Two more months and it's for real. For good and for bad.


Olga King said...

Man, oh, man...single-parenting first-hand, huh? Thank you for sharing your experiences - and your frustrations, and fears of what's to come. The journey of life that never ends...how do others make it so smooth sailing I often wonder??

PiccolaPineCone said...

After this past 3 day week-end during which I single handedly: brought the kids on a 5 hour train ride, brought them to a massive amusement park, drove them 2 hours to visit friends, drove them back, back five hours on the train. All without an iPad or electronic amusement of any type!! I had two thoughts racing through my mind: 1. I am WonderWoman! 2. How do single parents do it?

You are Superman.