Today was busy. I realized as I finished cleaning the after-dinner-disaster-of-a-kitchen that I’d sat down on only three occasions between the hours of 6:30AM and nearly 9:30PM – to eat my three meals that day. I’m not counting the two times I sat in the car. Once to play Mom’s Taxi Service and once to do my weekly major grocery run – with my two-year-old in tow.
SIDEBAR: Driving in the car is like taking an “active rest day” (a total oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one). Technically, you are seated and fairly relaxed, but lets be honest, even if the kids are deliriously happy and squealing with glee, the driver is still anything but relaxed. Any parent will tell you – it’s each of our worst nightmare to be caught off-guard by a texting teen, or in Wyoming, a brave antelope. Most parent drivers are hyper-stimulated.
Back to today – I was busy all day. Then, Hubby, who worked all day, took off at 5:30PM to volunteer for a charity event. I was left alone to care for our three kids, cook and cleanup dinner, go shopping for our 4th grader’s science fair project, assist in starting said project, put the three to bed, etc. etc.
It isn’t out of the ordinary for either my husband or I to do these duties alone. Life happens, and we both enjoy hobbies, clubs, etc. – most of which meet in the evenings. So, we take turns to accommodate those choices.
However, for whatever reason, tonight I was feeling especially exhausted. Please don’t judge. I’m being honest. I was exhausted. Yes, we have plenty of food to eat. Yes, we have a safe home to live in. Yes, we are all healthy. All blessings to be sure – but, being ‘blessed’ or ‘fortunate’ or having only ‘first world problems’ doesn’t exclude a person from experiencing feelings of stress or exhaustion. The two are not mutually exclusive. Having the gratitude and grace to acknowledge one’s privilege only makes dealing with the exhaustion or stress (or both) more feasible – it does not make the feelings disappear.
After saying goodnight to the kids, giving kisses, rocking, answering questions, changing over the laundry et.al. upstairs, I made my way back downstairs to a dirty kitchen and an abyss of dirty dishes that screamed “You’re NEVER going to get to go to bed tonight! Muwah-ha-ha-ha!”
And that’s when it struck.
That heavy realization – that weight that you know was put there with purpose – that ah-ha moment when you can feel a lesson being learned.
Single parents do this every day.
There it was – laid heavy on my heart.
It wasn’t that I was feeling sorry for myself, or casting some internal complaint about the duties of my day-to-day. Having a family is a privilege. It is an honor. That doesn’t mean it is easy. In fact, it is anything BUT easy. It takes work…
So. Much. Work.
Parenting is by far and away the hardest thing I have EVER taken on. If you don’t think it is hard – I’d wager you aren’t a parent OR you’re a shitty parent. Just sayin’.
Oh, it has its moments of depth of joy and astonishment beyond description. It also has its moments of depth of challenge and trials beyond description.
And in those quiet extremes I don’t rejoice or despair alone. But, some of us do.
To all the single parents out there who do this PARENTING thing solo – by choice or by chance (it makes no difference by the way). Perhaps Ellen or Oprah will give you a car, pay for your groceries for a year, or gift you an all-expense paid trip to Aruba. That’s what I’d do if I were either of them. Of course, neither of them are parents…so I’m not sure they’d get it. Unfortunately, I get it, but I’m not able to do those things. However, I can do something.
Tonight, I toast to you. I hold you in my heart and I raise you up in my prayers. It isn’t easy. But, we do it anyway – because it is an honor and a privilege, just as it is to know those of you out there doing it alone – and doing it well.
I see you. I feel you. I salute you.