I have not had the time to miss my still absent husband in the way that I would like to. My Self BC (before children) would have missed him by thinking of him often, calling whenever I could and longing to be near him. I may have mentioned before that he has already been away for a couple of weeks for leisure, then work and now there is one more week away for sport.
I do miss him. I miss his support; I miss his practical help; I miss his zest for life and I miss the way he makes our lives easy and fun with his light touch and optimistic outlook. But I don’t have the time for love-sickness per se I am just too busy for that.
My Self with three kids under the age of three and a half at home alone for this stretch of time has given me a new respect for parents who raise their children by themselves ALL THE TIME! There is no way to describe the level of commitment that these parents (usually women) need to have to their children. How do they summon up the huge reserves of courage and stamina required to do a ‘good job’ day-in and day-out?
I have had smatterings of help here and there from family when they are available and not working. And I am fortunate to have childcare placements a couple of days a week. This has given me some time to exercise occasionally which has helped me to cope better to just keep going.
I find it is the daily grind of meals, getting dressed, cleaning teeth, finding shoes, breaking up fights, skirting danger, entertainment, answering questions, being vigilant . . . and many other things in this vein that is most exhausting to deal with for one person. It is physical and mentally challenging beyond anything reasonable.
Parenting already carries such weighty responsibility and then on top of everything you do there is always a guilty sense that you haven’t done enough. Doing this job alone means that you give yourself away to your children with every beat of your heart. It’s relentless, it’s tiring and it’s lonely.
I have learned a lot about myself during this time. I have learned that I can be more patient and that life goes on even with a messy house and piles of dirty washing blocking the back door. I have also learned a lot about my sons too. I just adore the times when they calmly snuggle up to me on the couch with a book and ask ‘what do the words say’ or just come up out of the blue and say ‘I love you Mummy, let’s be married’. I melt when my baby boy gurgles at me and his eyes sparkle. If I was too busy stressing about what chores I had to do I might have missed these golden moments.
Ultimately, all parents either together or apart are doing the best they can one moment at a time. I think what’s important to realise is that being a single parent may not be a choice for that parent. People are single for all kinds of reasons including divorce and death and we shouldn’t judge them as quickly as society often does.
When my husband sneakily informed me at the last-minute that these three different trips away were all back-to-back I was without doubt, pissed off. But part of me secretly coveted our bed to myself. It’s bad luck for me that the extra bed space has been quickly filled by sneaky children in the middle of the night!
Are you a single parent? Or have you had a significant stretch of time without your partner to help you? How do you keep going? What do you do?