So last week Scott came back from a business trip. He'd been gone for almost 10 days - the longest stretch yet since we had both kids. He was in New Zealand and Australia, so the idea that he could get back "in a heartbeat" if he had to was off the table. Nothing worse than having to wait 30 hours or so while your spouse tries to get back in a crisis! Thankfully, there were no crises. Still, 10 days is long enough for the heart to grow fonder and all that!
I hadn't intended for this post to be a salute to spouses, but it's probably going to end up that way, at least indirectly. Like most wives, I can often be heard telling hubby to do more around the house. And while he's at it, why not try to teach the boys a thing or 2?! But I hadn't realized just how tough going it alone can be, even for 10 days. At first, it's downright awesome The kids do what you want, they eat what you say, you watch what you want when you want (no need to compromise and sit through an hour of some lame show so that he can sit through a cool show you like!) In fact, for those first few days it's downright giddying! But alas, reality sets in soon enough:
* The inevitable waking up in the middle of the night.
We've been blessed in that both our boys sleep very well, and have since they were each about 4 months old. But go figure they each got up once a night for a couple of the days Scott was gone. Which, when you consider that I wasn't exactly going to bed early myself, made for very limited sleep for mommy! And while I could pull all-nighters back in college, I've had to come to the sad conclusion that those days have come and gone:-(
* The need for a second opinion.
Since the toddler can now string together some fairly complicated sentences, every now and then it's good to have someone to bounce off an idea or 2 with. Is he being too sassy if he refuses, and quite eloquently, at that, to do what I ask? How much discipline does it call for? And am I overreacting because I'm tired, or is the toddler really trying to gouge his brother's eyes out?
* The never-ending shoveling, and the diaper-changing and the runs to the potty and...!
I love my kids to death, but I have no shame in admitting that the administrivia of child-raising can be exhausting when going it alone. What is often a sweet, enjoyable family experience became a battle. I tried to shovel, the baby took it upon himself to see how far he could spit the food in my face. I'd come at him from the other side, and he'd reach up at just the right moment, grab the food then merrily rub it in his hair. And oh yeah, while my attention was turned the toddler was mixing his food with his hands, adding juice and basically making a mess. "Cooking", he calls it. When my eyes focused accusingly on him he, being at the potty-training stage, would decide that that was the minute he had to go. It couldn't wait, of course!
* The feelings of inadequacy.
With one of me and two of them I felt there wasn't enough of me to go around. I wondered if I was spending enough time with each child. Would I be wiser to let the dirty dishes keep piling up, let the goop on the floor remain there, ignore the laundry and instead use that time to engage with the kids? And how best to put them down, without making one of them wait too long?
The challenges were many. Wanting what's best for the boys, and trying to give it to them without compromising on some basics (no matter how much fun we're having, we must eat) was hard. Which brings me back to appreciating Scott and all he does around the house. Let's not take bets on how long it'll take me to get back to insisting that he do more, but while he was gone I definitely got a chance to feel what it's like to be a single parent. And boy, is it hard work! What was particularly interesting to me was that I had a lot of help - family stepped up, and we even got a baby sitter for part of that time. Yet still the responsibility of taking care of these little dudes felt like it was mine alone. If I found it so tough for just 10 days - knowing that Scott was going to be back "soon" - I wonder how single parents do it? I tip my hat off to them!