Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Finding mommy

For the last eight-plus months, I've been working towards being the best single parent I can be. For me, that means trying to figure out how and when to be mommy vs. being daddy. Knowing when to be a problem solver or protector, versus a listener or comforter. And of course getting all the 'mommy' stuff done plus the 'daddy' stuff as well. It's not that I think each parent doesn't play all of these roles, but, at least on our family, typical gender roles were more or less the norm. That meant that when Aimee died, I felt like I needed to find my own inner mommy.

It's been a journey, that's for sure.

But I think I'm starting to get a little of what it can feel like at times. I took Rowan out of town for the weekend for some daddy/daughter bonding time. We got back earlier this evening, and tomorrow she starts back up at her preschool. This is what my evening was like, both in my head and what I actually did. Does this sound familiar to you parents, especially single ones?

Rowan is excited about the
"Disney princess" lip gloss I
let her get.
Pulling in the driveway. Mind flashing to what food was in the fridge and cupboards when I left. Do I have dinner? Do I have what I need for Rowan's lunches this week or even tomorrow? No. Need a store run. Better prepare Rowan now before we even get out of the car, since I know she won't want to get back in the car after the four hours we just spent in it. "Hey, Rowan? We're going to have to run to the store in a little bit after I get the car unloaded. OK, honey?" Expected groan from the back seat. "It'll be a quick trip to the store, then we'll go out to eat." Expected uptick in response to that - Rowan like to go out to eat, just like me. OK, dog's out of the car, Rowan's unbuckled, trunk is popped open, bags, suitcases, guitar all loaded on my arms. Door open, Rowan's TV show on so I can unload and put away things quickly. Dirty clothes tossed towards washer. Call to mom, yes, we're home, had fun, lots to do. Reload Rowan into the car. Safeway - lunch meat, cheese, small veggies easily packed for lunches. OK, check, head for restaurant. Dinner, no hope at getting her to eat something healthy tonight, but almost never any healthy options on kids menus anyway. Back home, Rowan's now in the tub, load of laundry started. Back to the bathroom to wash her hair, get her out, dry her off. Clean jammies on and back to the couch to watch a show before bed (normally she only gets one show in the morning and one before bed - the electronic babysitter earlier is a rare exception). I watch with her as a brief break, but also because I need to brush her hair out after her bath, plus learn how to talk like these characters because she WILL ask me to do so soon. Show over, brushing teeth, and glad I paid attention to show because sure enough I've suddenly been conscripted to role play as Captain Hook and his sidekick Smee from the Disney Jr. show we just watched. Meanwhile teeth are clean and now settling in to read stories, say our prayer, and lights out. Straight back to kitchen, do dishes (good LORD I should have done some of these before I left and NOT left them soaking because the smell is nasty). Kitchen finally clean and I start making Rowan's lunch, pause to put clothes in dryer and start new load. Back to Rowan's room to check on her - she's fast asleep so I kiss her head and go back to the kitchen to finish making her lunch. Clothes out of the dryer, wet clothes in the dryer, now... um, ok, now I can sit down and write a blog post. But quickly. It's now after midnight, and I have to get up early. I want to make sure we have plenty of time to get ready and get the new school year off to a good start. Oh, except I still need to fold these clothes and put them away...

Deep breath.

Like I said, sound familiar, parents?

When I spoke to my mom earlier, I said to her that this is one of the times I miss having a spouse from a purely logistical standpoint. But even when I said it, I knew I could and would get everything done. Single parenting is as old as time, and LOTS of people have done as well or better with a lot less to work with. It's just that for whatever reason, women seem to do this better than men, or maybe that's just my perception (not the necessarily kid-raising part, I mean the planning, organizing, getting all this crap done part). At any rate, it's taken me some time to get the hang of this, but I'm getting there.

And as I hinted at earlier, it's not just getting all the tasks done. I'm getting better at figuring out when to turn male-brain off and turn female-brain on. "Oh, she doesn't want me to tell her she fell down because she wasn't watching where she was going or that if her friend upset her she should find better friends. She just wants me to hold her, stroke her hair, kiss her forehead, empathize with her, and make her feel better. OK, I can do that..." I'm trying to figure out the finer points of putting outfits together so that when all of this sudden this matters to her, I'm ready. And I notice cute girl clothes in the stores now (and when they're on sale). I converse with sitters and teachers about her care and her current mental state. I bring home books from the library, some that teach moral lessons and some that are just fun. I role play with her, and as such I voice characters from TV shows and movies, sip 'tea' at tea parties (water I sincerely hope is from the bathroom SINK), or make her toy unicorns fly through the air and guide them through an adventure to rescue a princess from an evil witch. And lastly, when her voice is breaking and she's telling me that she's just really sad because she misses her mommy right now, I hold her close and I tell her I miss mommy too. And I wish I could soak the pain right out of her and into myself so that she didn't have to bear this huge burden on her little shoulders.

Because that's what mommies (and daddies) do.


  1. Pat, you will get the hang of single parenting. Yes it is hard at times, you have the inner strength to do it. And so far, from what I read of your blog posts you are doing a great job. You are doing an excellent job, making unicorns fly, saving the pricess from the evil witch.........excellent touch. I know it takes time. You are doing just fine. Aimee would be proud of you.

    1. Oh I know. In a lot of ways I have the hang of it now. I have my routines and I know what I have to get done and what I can let go of. Most often my struggle with single parenting is not having someone to share some of Rowan's milestones with.

  2. You are truly a beautiful, amazing parent. Thanks for rising up to what has been put in front of you and bringing all that you have to raise your precious daughter. It is certainly what the world needs more of. Bless you! Tracy W.

    1. Aw, thanks Tracy. I'm sure there are probably more parents than we realize that do the same for their children.

  3. Amen! You're bringing back memories from the days when I had 4 younger than 6 years old. I swear I didn't sleep for 5 years. And now, believe it or not, I miss those days. (:>)