18 January 2016

Four Things I Learned About Myself While Parenting Alone for a Week

For the past four years, Michael has been working on several different Masters Programs and in doing so, has to report to campus twice a year for residency leaving me to be the lone parent in our little zoo. Oddly enough, Starbucks stock always seems to do very well during these two weeks during the year. Coincidence? I think not. But I digress…

When you’re used to parenting as a duo and then your right hand man is no longer around, things tend to get a little…interesting. Case in point, last year, I had just dropped Michael off at the airport and thirty minutes later, I was sitting in an emergency room with Maddy wondering if she was going to be okay. Who would have thought? Out of the blue while cruising down I-85, Maddy started foaming at the mouth and grabbing at her throat while screaming the most excruciating, ear-piercing scream I’ve ever heard. Fortunately, I knew where the closest hospital was and my parents were close by to help and be with me, and everything turned out fine but it really got me thinking:

“How do single parents do it?”

I always find myself questioning my abilities when I know I’m going to be the lone parent in charge. I think this feeling is natural for all parents but it’s one I’m not comfortable courting and entertaining. While I won’t always have the answers to everything (thanks Google!), I like to feel that in some small way, I’ve found my groove where all this parenting stuff is concerned. Having said that, there are a few things I learned about myself this past week as the lone parent that have given me the confidence to know that I’ve got this.

1.    I can trust myself to handle anything and everything. Emergency room visit? Check. Five middle of the night wake up calls resulting in limited sleep for the night? Check. Master the art of multi-tasking? Done. Dog poops on the floor while the kid poops herself? Check and double check. I have taken care of it all, and then some.

When you’ve got two sets of hands, two sets of eyes and a two against one defense, life is good but take one of those players out of the game and things become a little more challenging. It’s all up to me to make sure the little gets fed, bathed and kept alive and I’ve come to learn that over time and with a little bit of trial and error, I can make it work. Parenting alone means never getting a timeout or a moment to yourself so you’re always “on” and relied upon to have the answers to anything and to do everything. I credit keeping a good routine and schedule coupled with a little TV/movie time (don’t judge). Some days, it’s simply about survival but at the end of the day, I can look back and know I did a good job and did it by myself.

2.   I know I am enough. When you’re parenting alone, it’s easy to doubt your ability to be just as good a parent alone as you are when you’re with your spouse but when it’s all said and done, you are enough to give your child everything he/she needs to thrive. It’s similar to when you lose one of your major senses – the others simply become highlighted. And while Michael is such an integral and important part of our family, I know that when it’s up to me to do it alone, I’ve got this. I am enough.

3.   Real single parents deserve mad props. Very simply, being responsible for a human-being all on your own, all the time is no joke, y’all. To any of you reading this who may be a single parent, please know you have my utmost respect and admiration. 

4.   Being a single parent has forced me to ask for help more. I am not great about asking for help. Truthfully, I’d rather scoop my eyes out with a spoon than admit I need help from anyone for anything BUT I’ve learned that being the lone parent humbles you in many, many ways and that you do what is necessary for the betterment of your child. It literally does “take a village” to raise kids and I’ve learned that it’s okay to know your limitations and to ask for help when it’s needed.

Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.

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