Sunday, March 4, 2012

You don't know what you don't know

A really common beef in the single mom community is when other partnered parents say something like "Oh, (name of partner) is traveling this week! I know what being a single parent is like now!"

OH NO YOU DON'T. You want to piss off a single parent? Tell them you "get it" because you have two or three days on your own.

(If you have a partner who's gone longer-- i.e. on a tour of duty, or perhaps on a project in another city for a year at a stretch, yes. Then you get it. A few days, though, not so much.)

I actually don't get riled up about it any more. (I used to. I'm pretty sure there's at least one post here dealing with.) There's no point. They can't possibly understand what it's like being a single parent-- just like I can't possibly understand what it's like to be a partnered parent.

All we know is what we know, after all. So when that changes, we have every right to feel discombobulated.

People ask "How do you do it?" I do it because I don't know another way. Partnered parents do it because they don't know another way, and when it changes, of course it's rough. If I suddenly had a partner or someone living with me, it would feel luxurious to be able to run to the drug store once Elle was in bed instead of having to figure out when I can get there the next day.

(Speaking of which, note to self: I should probably transfer my prescriptions to the drug store near me that has a drive-through-- that never seemed important until now. If you have a sick kid, you don't want to have to haul them in and out of a store; bad enough I'd have to take her with me in the car to get the prescription anyway.)

So no, Facebo0k friend with the sick husband who has to handle your child all by your little self for 24 hours: no, you don't understand. But I'm not going to get worked up about it any more; life's too short. Your husband will be better soon and back on the coparenting bandwagon. Maybe he can get a job, too. (Whoops! Did I say that out loud?)

Me? I'll keep doing what I'm doing.


Citations said...

My husband was posted overseas for 6 weeks when the kids were about 1 and 2. It was hell, but I wouldn't say I got more than a glimpse of what single-parenthood would be like.

A few years later he had a stint of maybe 6-9 months where he spent most of every month in California. It was a pain, but the kids were at least both walking by that point and it was less awful, and we still saw him regularly.

The hardest was when he was in NYC for over a year, and we barely saw him, and even when he was home for a couple days he was so exhausted he mostly slept. It really changed the family dynamic; the kids and I became a unit on our own and it took serious readjustment to reincorporate him. But even then he was there to talk to and work through decisions with or at least call for sympathy.

I am full of awe and respect for the job you do on your own.

Tiara said...

Well said!