Dear Mr. VP,
Did you know today is National Single Parent Day? I didn’t until Facebook just told me. Thanks, Facebook.
Today is my 249th day of being a single parent.
Lots of articles I read focus on how hard it is to single parent, and that’s totally true. We got home two hours ago and it was just five minutes ago that I got to take my coat off and sit down, courtesy of my kid suddenly really liking to take showers. While I understand water waste is a significant environmental issue, I let him play in the shower for as long as he wants. He gets clean, I get to sit (or make lunches/do dishes/make the bed/find his lovey/do laundry/sweep/clean). Win win.
But I don’t want to write another pity-piece about single parenting. I’d like to take some time to talk to you about all the amazing and awesome things about parenting on your own. Those deserve some recognition too.
- I get to make all the decisions when we’re together. Last night that decision was to scrap bedtime and go sledding. It was so absolutely the right thing to do, and what had been a pretty tough day was made right by the sounds of my buddy laughing and shrieking as he went down the hill with the sun setting in front of us.
- I get all the hugs when he’s here. Yes — I miss them when he’s gone with his dad, but when he’s here, they’re all mine.
- I get to decide what we eat for dinner and I don’t have to cook for another adult. So sometimes, we have mac and cheese and chicken nuggets for dinner that’s totally fine. (I do put a vegetable on the table too. Whether it gets eaten is another story.) A few weeks ago we had ice cream sundaes. It was the best.
- If G wants his toes painted, it happens. No one bitches. (Did you just gasp? Oh well.)
- After kid bedtime I get the whole silent house to myself. I should take this time to fold my giant pile of clean laundry, but there’s no one to judge me when instead, I decide to eat queso and watch endless episodes of The Mindy Project. (Dear Mindy Kaling — I love you, can we please get married.)
- Related: at first I was dreading every single moment away from G. But now that I’m in it, it’s been nice to get time to myself when he’s with his dad. I realize not every single parent has this luxury, which is unfortunate, because having adult time to recharge and relax and meet new people and see old friends and date and sometimes even SLEEP has been what has made me feel like myself for the first time since G was born.
- As a single parent, you’re forced to remember your support network. Friends and family become so much more important, and you realize it’s ok to rely on people and ask for help. Because you actually can’t do this without that help, and that’s fine. This gives friendships and relationships that you may have neglected the opportunity to come to life again.
- And maybe most importantly. You become intimately familiar with the idea of self sufficiency. Sometimes that support network will bail you out, and sometimes it’s Saturday morning and you teach yourself how to fix a broken toilet, because that’s just what you need to do at that moment. That sort of self-sufficiency is not only empowering, but I know it’s also teaching my kid an important lesson — it’s ok to ask for help, but you can also do almost anything on your own if you need to.
I know it’s practically a Republican duty to feel bad for single parents and their offspring, but please don’t always feel pity. We’re doing just fine.
On to day 250.