Monday, June 4, 2012

The solitude of single parenting

Although this post is born of the loss of my wife, I believe any and all single parents might find at least some truths in this post.

It's near the end of the school year, and my daughter will be completing her first year of preschool. Now I know in the grand scheme of life, this is not a big deal. But as a milestone for a child, finishing her first year of preschool is kind of a big deal to me. However, it's also sad.

When I looked at my daughter's school calendar and saw that the last day was coming up, the first instant brought a bit of fatherly pride, which was immediately followed by the sadness of knowing that Aimee would have loved this milestone. It's just one of many ways that I feel alone as a single parent sometimes.
Like when:
  • At a Christmas program days after Aimee's death, the children in the audience were allowed to come on stage and sing a song. My little one went up, a bit hesitant, but excited to get to go on stage. It was a proud moment, and I cried because I couldn't share it with Aimee.
  • There was an assignment my daughter brought home from school that she'd done a particularly great job on. I decided it was going into the 'Box", a container Aimee had started to store some of our daughter's keepsakes. I missed being able to beam about it with her.
  • Our daughter turned four. Although I was extremely grateful that there were a couple of family members there, it was still a moment that I really wished Aimee could have been there for.
  • When my daughter and I are at odds, and there's no 'tag team' partner I can switch with. Or when I am at a loss for how to deal with something she's going through, I wish I had another parent in the home I could consult with to make sure I'm making the best decisions or handling things the best way.
  • Thousands of other small moments pass where my daughter gets really excited, or happy, or does something really cool, and I don't have anyone to share that with who loves Rowan the same way I do.
Aimee was there for our
daughter's first day of
preschool, but won't be

there for her last one

And I know the future will hold many, many more of these moments. Starting Kindergarten. Accomplishments in soccer games or learning to swim or dance recitals. Later on it's be makeup and boys and puberty (ack!), then dances and driving and prom and graduation and college. Someday after that new jobs and marriage and kids and so on and so forth.

Aimee will miss all of these, and I will miss sharing them with her. I will also miss her wisdom and insight and patience, and I will (and do) miss the extra hands that helped so much and did so many things so well. But far and away what I miss most is sharing the joy of raising our daughter with her.

I have always had a lot of respect for single parents, and all the work it takes to do it well (hell, it's a lot of work to be a good parent when there are two of you doing it). But until I became a single parent myself I never realized the loneliness of it, and how so many of these moments that should be shared with a partner have to be experienced alone. I know it's not the end of the world, but it is sad. Especially when I think of how much Aimee adored our daughter and how much all of these moments would have meant to her.

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