Looking Back on My Solo Parenting Stint

My husband works for the Pittsburgh Marathon, which takes place the first weekend of May. This means I haven’t really seen him for about 6 weeks. I’ve been home with my two boys, just me, and it’s been hard, hard, hard. (Being 6 months pregnant hasn’t helped make things any easier)iStock_000006243891XSmall-stressedmom

Many days, he was able to come home at the tail end of dinner and help me put the boys to bed before going back to the office. That was also hard, because the kids got so excited to see him they got really revved up and bedtime was an emotional disaster every day. Then, he’d drive back in to the office to arrange more logistics or pay people or whatever his task was that day/night. And I was lonely! I couldn’t leave the house and there’s only so many episodes of Glee…I’m an extrovert, darn it. I need other grownups.

The final week was the very hardest, because the race staff actually checks into a hotel downtown to really work around the clock. It was like he was gone on a business trip, but yet we knew he was only 3 miles away and somehow that made things more challenging.

He’s back to working regular hours now, and the kids have stopped waking up at night crying for him. I’ve also had time to really sit and think about what was specifically hardest for me. Mostly, it was being the ONLY PERSON in charge of disasters and schedule disruptions. It had to be me, my day, my cancellations, my rearrangements. And of course there were many of these, because our kids are 4.5 and 2 years old.

Bearing the brunt of all that disruption gets old real fast, and of course disruptions peaked during the week before the race, when all of us were at the bottom of our barrel. I had to pick up sick kids from preschool and make double doctor appointments and trips to the pharmacy, and, and, and.

I kept thinking, alternately, “how do families do this when one parent is deployed for an entire year???” and “people aren’t meant to raise children in isolation like this.”

One of my very best days throughout the solo-parenting stint was when I made plans to do a potluck dinner with 2 other mom friends who were solo-parenting that day. I tossed my dinner contribution in the car, picked everyone up, and just went to my friend’s house, where our collective 6 children played together and we mamas had adult conversation.

Then, she set up a kids table in a different room and we just left the kids in there to eat or not eat and we sat at a real table with napkins and silverware and, well we talked about our kids. But we did it in full sentences!

I was nervous at first, because I had to put blinders on to make it through each day like a robot and this was something different. I worried my kids would melt in disaster, but the older girls spoonfed my toddler, my older son giggled with the older boys, and everything was so fine. Nobody yelled. Only a few people cried and only very briefly.

On that day, we had a village, and it was glorious. Bedtime went smoothly when we got home, and I spent my evening relaxed rather than taking 2 hours to unwind from the tension I normally feel after long hours alone with wee people who can’t wipe their own butts or make “green light” decisions. Something so small, like a few hours just talking with friends while my kids were occupied close by, made such a different in my day and then the following day, because I went to bed so relaxed and happy.

I want to make those dinners a recurring habit next year pre-marathon. It seems crucial!

Have you done long stints solo parenting? Leave a comment to share what makes the days and weeks easier for you!

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