I have a friend who is incredibly busy. They have as we colloquially say “More jobs than a Jamaican” and keep it moving. They just got a promotion. I told them “Congratulations! You’re almost as busy as a parent.” They’re response was “I’ve already been as busy as a parent.” I almost laughed uncontrollably. A few days prior I contacted my friend Morgan, a single mother for some assistance I needed on an article I needed to write. If I sent her a text message Tuesday morning, she just wrote me back an hour ago. She apologized saying she swears sometimes she doesn’t get a moment to rest. She’s right.
For my non-parent readers out there I am going to take some time to give you a glimpse into how what goes into being a single parent to a young child. I can’t really speak on older ones because I don’t have one yet.
1) You wake up to go to work. You go home to another job. That two to three hours requires more energy and stress than the traffic you sit in at work and that asshole boss and those people gossiping about you. When non-parents come home for work, you get to crash, watch TV, go to a happy hour, or whatever else.
2) You kid loves you to death but all that they can do is take from you.
3) There are no breaks. Your “off days” consist of running errands for the child/children, doing laundry, cleaning up that mess they made that you didn’t get around to, and some sort of planning. The moment you’re finished doing all of that and you sit down guess who’s coming through the door and they’re sick?
4) Your life is about one person: yourself. One mouth to feed. Bills to pay for one person’s electricity, gas, water, etc. If it’s cold and you just have yourself to worry about it, you might brave a night with no heat and bundle up. Can’t do that with a child. You can cut corners for yourself for survival. You eat poorly so that the kid can eat healthy stuff because it’s expensive and as opposed to eating that with the child you look at it as “That’s an extra meal for them.”
5) If you telecommute from home, you have to constantly halt work to keep an eye on the child. I wake up early to do most of the writing that I have to do for the most part. However I’ve been writing more and more and it is the time of year where I require five hours of sleep instead of three. So when Cydney wakes up she wants to type with me. It’s also difficult to write with your arms around a toddler in your arms. Yes, I could put her into daycare, but that’s $800 a month that could go towards other expenses (the holidays just passed and Cydney has a birthday in three weeks). I’ve either made too little or too much for daycare vouchers. As I’m writing this I’m being asked if Cydney can use the computer and to stop working to play Legos. I gave her my iPad and now she’s saying “We’re doing work together!”
6) I personally only make it out for people’s birthdays. It’s someone’s about once every other month so that just about sums up the social life. I don’t have the time for anything else. I will make some extra time out of my schedule to make it out more often if there is someone I want to date. However, they have to understand I seldom get nights off so if I actually get time and a sitter you better work it out and clear your schedule.
7) You’re always “on.” When you’re upset, you can’t let your children see you’re upset. When you’re pissed off and want to cuss someone out you can’t do that either. There’s a sponge watching everything you do. You can’t let them see your bad habits or your fears because they will more than likely pick them up as well. It gets tiring.
8) Everything you do is a lesson. You’ve taught them how to talk, what to say, how to crawl, walk, feed themselves, change diapers, potty train, reprimand them repeatedly until actions become learned behaviors. This list could go on and on and on.
9) There’s always tears to dry. If you think about it for the first four years of your child’s life they cry at least three times a day. 4x365x4+1(for leap day)=5,840 tears on the low end. Now to backtrack on diapers: an average of three a day for somewhere between 18 months and three years… 1,644-3,285 times you’ve wiped and changed ONE child’s behind. Just look at those numbers. My daughter has cried/whined with tears three times and has been awake for forty minutes.
I could come up with more of these. Most of this stuff goes for all parents. The beauty of two parent households are you have help. I have help and assistance, but I’m on the clock 24hrs a day (There are times they wake up sick or they had a bad dream or something and even though you have to go to work, guess who you have to entertain?). Just thought I’d give a little perspective.