Chris is in California again; it’s another single mom night for me.
Before we moved to Portland, when Chris was still in school and we were living at the University Village, we had a neighbor who was a single mother to one little girl. One afternoon we were out in the courtyard while the kids played, and she watched me chase, chastise, and comfort Vicki and Lexi in the continual process that parents of more than one child are so used to. During a break in the chaos she commented that she didn’t know how I did it with two kids. I was completely in shock, because just a few days before that I had mentioned to Chris, who had been at school late into the night again working on projects, that I really admired this particular mom because she had to do it alone all the time. Everything fell apart whenever he was gone, and I had no idea how single moms ever got anything done.
Fast forward 5 years or so, and I’m almost wishing for the days when Chris came home for dinner before heading back to school until the wee hours of the morning. Sure, he was gone all night, but he was still there. Now I’m a single mom for three days every other week (it feels like a lot more than it really is when you write it out like that. Huh.) And I feel like I’m becoming good at something I never really wanted to do. Gone are the days when the house fell to pieces because I was the only adult around. Sometimes I’m almost more motivated to keep things clean when he’s gone, because otherwise I have a huge mess to deal with before he comes home on Fridays and no one willing to help me take care of it.
Bedtime goes fairly smoothly now. I don’t always read stories like Chris does, but then the girls like him reading stories much better than me, because he does the voices, and the sillies, and the fun, and I just read. But we don’t all fall apart come 8:00 and Daddy’s not here.
I can even handle it when one of the girls is sick. Possibly even more than one, although that doesn’t seem to happen as often as it used to. The first time Vicki was really sick, when she was just a year old, Chris wanted to go to a church meeting, and I called my mom to come be with me for the two hours so I didn’t have to be alone with my own sick child. These days I can handle coughs, colds, fevers, even throwing up without another grownup there to hold my hand.
There are even some good things about being on my own. I can stay up as late as I want without worrying about disturbing anyone when I finally crawl into bed. I can watch stupid TV shows without Chris teasing me about it, because he’s in California and doesn’t know. No one steals the covers while I’m sleeping. If I have a big Girl Scout project, like sewing patches on 14 brown vests, I can leave it spread out all over the kitchen table without driving anyone else nuts. These are the nights where we “get” to eat dinner in the living room, but rather than being irritated that the table’s covered in stuff, the girls just think I’m really awesome for letting them watch TV with dinner. In the summer we have girls’ movie nights, where we watch movies he’d never care to watch with us. Girly bonding nights, good times.
So, yeah, I can do this single parenting thing. It’s not easy, I would never choose to do it, and I pray that I never will for any other reason than bi-monthly business trips. But I do wish I was still in contact with that mom from the Village, because she had a wedding planned for not too long after we moved, and I’d love to compare notes and see if she’s learning from another perspective these days, too.