The pitfalls of single parenting — even briefly

By Jonathan Key | Oct 08, 2012

My son Thomas and I have been surviving on our own this past week as my wife, Barbara, left to visit our other son who is in college in Florida. Barbara left us in great shape.

Before leaving, she cleaned the house, changed the sheets on the bed, went to the store and stocked the fridge, washed all the clothes so they would be ready for us to wear, briefed me on his weekly schedule and even gave Thomas lunch money for the week so I wouldn’t forget.

Then she was gone. We were looking forward to the time by ourselves.

Just two guys doing guy stuff for seven days with only a couple of chores that needed to complete before Barbara got back.

We went to the gym and had breakfast together before school and work each day.

By the weekend, the weather wasn’t cooperating and our outdoor activities got rained out but we stayed inside and watched man movies and played games to pass the time.

The week was fun and we had real quality time together, but as the days went by, I began to understand the complexities faced by single parents.

Even when things are prepared ahead of time, the week gets hectic when you are on your own. Every day, no matter how well it’s planned, something comes up.

Meetings run longer than expected or a school field trip is scheduled at the last minute and you still have to make time for cooking dinner and doing homework. I’ll admit it is easier to go out than cook dinner, but it’s expensive and time consuming.

Weighing commitments to employers against obligations to their children becomes a daily balancing act that single parents must endure without the backup of a spouse.

I take for granted that while I’m at work Barbara is there to tend to the kids’ needs and even back me up when necessary. And although, when push comes to shove, people are capable of accomplishing anything they put their mind to, this week it became obvious to me why families were designed to be a team effort.

A mother and a father have unique sets of attributes for handling circumstances that arise and the combination of the two is usually better that either on their own.

I truly empathize with all the single parents out there, and I have a newfound respect for their industriousness. In the mean time, Thomas and I are looking forward to Barbara coming back home.

I’m sure she has missed us, too, and will be glad to see us but I suspect it will be a short-lived celebration once she sees the empty fridge, the dirty laundry, the dishes...

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