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Sometimes Single Mothering

by Deborah Cruz

Sometimes Single Mothering~ As many of you are aware, the Big Guy works out of town..A LOT! Several days of the week he is gone and I am left alone to Mother the girls all by myself. Honestly, when he comes home for a couple days..it’s like Christmas and Fourth of July all in one.Its chaotic and exciting  but it’s not routine.It’s like a great big Daddy tornado sweeps through the house.We love it.Believe me, I am ecstatic that he has a job at all and I look forward to him coming home the way most people look forward to the last day of their work week. But when it is over, I am left to pick up the emotional pieces ( and literally to clean up the house that the tornado hit); to soothe the crying, to bandage the heart wounds, to deal with girls missing their Daddy.Plus I get to do all the stuff all mothers get to do, I work from home, I clean,cook, do laundry, run the girls to and fro various activities, arrange play dates, bathe them, get ready for school, pick up from school, homework,pack snacks, sign permission slips and all the other obligatory school responsibilities,ballet, rehearsal, and on top of all of that…try and maintain my sanity.

single mothering, single, mothering, moms, children, babies, alone

Single Mothering

So,when I got engaged in a Twitter debate with  a fellow tweep over a statement similar to this “just because your husband works out of town a lot does not make you a single mother.” Her viewpoint, being neither a single Mother, nor a woman whose husband is gone 5/7ths of the week, was that my disagreement with the statement was not right. In fact, she went as far as to tell me that I was not single mothering it…I was lonely.Which made me laugh because how the hell can I be lonely when I have 2 littles with me at all times of the day and night? Hell,I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself.I’m not lonely…most days.I’m too busy with all this mothering that I do on my own to be lonely. She argued that I was married and the fact that he paid the bills made me not single mothering.Wow! Who knew the only qualification for being a father or co parenting is to pay some bills! I love a woman who has never walked a minute in my shoes telling me that my life is easy and I am just a lonely complainer. Yey, for her!

I really should have just stopped tweeting because honestly trying to explain it to her was like trying to talk to an ESL student in Pig Latin on Mars. I don’t know if she didn’t understand what I was trying to say or simply just didn’t care. I am going to say it was the latter.

Single Mothering

Let’s be clear, I have the utmost respect for single mothers. I don’t know how you do it. You are seriously the hardest working women in the Mommy business. That being said, it’s no picnic having a husband who has had to take a job that takes him away from the house….always. It’s not occasional business trips.The weekly job, that is the business trip.Can you say commuter marriage? I am NOT a single mother because I am not single.I am married. That is true. But this is also true, I do all the mothering and daddying..5 days a week..by MYSELF! So, when this narrow minded broad, who doesn’t know me, doesn’t share my situation, doesn’t even listen to my explanation, tries to tell me that I have it easy because I am married, forgive me for wanting to punch her in her gullet. It was almost as ridiculous as having a single non child having person trying to give out parenting advice.

What are your thoughts?Do you sometimes single Mother? Are you a full time single mother? Do you think life would be easier if it were only sometimes? Or maybe it would be easier if it were full time?What qualifies it as being hard? Time spent doing it? Doing it alone? Isn’t mothering hard enough with all the Mommy guilt?Now, we have to prove how hard it is to other unsympathetic women?

Single Mothering is Hard

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Laura 2010/10/28 - 2:09 am

Oh, girl. I hear you. Get ready, 'cause I'm gonna unload!

Six weeks after we adopted our son (our first), my husband took a job that was supposed to be 25%-ish travel. It turned into 99% travel. As in, he'd regularly "move" to Washington, DC, for a month at a time into a (sweet) corporate apartment (we lived on the other side of the country – in Arizona). The rest of the time, he was gone most weeks. Sometimes, he wouldn't make it home for the weekends b/c the flight was 5.5 hours and there is a 3 hour time difference b/n AZ and DC. There were a few stretches of 12-ish days on my own. When he did come home on a Friday, he's get in at midnight, jetlagged, and then leave again Sundaylate morning. Fun.

Occasionally, my son and I packed up and flew across the country to be with him. (That was the bonus – staying in sweet corporate apartments and having our airfare covered. The drawback: being stuck on a plane, alone, for 5.5 hours, with a baby that freaked out when he was held b/c of prior orphanage issues.)

The first six months home with my son were hell insofar as the little guy did NOT sleep more than half an hour at a time. Doing that alone – I mean sleep deprivation that I can't even describe – was hard. He didn't sleep at all during the day, either, and was up by 4 or 5 a.m. every day. Every day. I got 2-3 interrupted hours of sleep most nights. I didn't work at all at the time, thank goodness, but it was so hard. You can't "sleep when the baby sleeps" when the baby doesn't freaking sleep!

In what turned out to be a blessing, Hubby was laid of after exactly one year. Not so much a blessing at the time, as we were in the middle of our second adoption (with close to $20K in fees and travel expenses remaining) and were totally income-less, but he was offered an amazing job and was working 2.5 later…in California. (We were still in Arizona.)

Three days after we returned from picking up our daughter in Ethiopia, Hubby got on a plane to New York to start his new job. I was left at home, jet lagged to hell and back, with a very, very sick eight month old baby and our just-turned two year old son. My daughter ended up in the hospital, I was incredibly sick (I picked up some nasty stuff overseas that took months to go away), and I was literally beat to hell. For the following few months, my husband worked in Cali most weekdays while I was taking care of our family in AZ. That was rough, even harder than the previous year b/c I had two little ones and was sick. After a few months, we got an apartment in SoCal and I drove back and forth (eight hours each way) with the kids every few weeks. That was equally awesome.

(cont'd below – I wrote so damn much I was cut off!)

Laura 2010/10/28 - 2:10 am

At some point, I couldn't do it anymore and so we moved permanently. He now travels anywhere from 25-50% of the time and I swear to God, when people tell me how crappy that must be, I tell them, "If you did what we did for almost two years, you'd think it was freaking awesome." Well, exactly one year after living here and having a semi-normal life where he's gone a quarter to half the time, I've decided it's still hard. It's not impossible like what we did before, but it's not easy, either. It's disruptive and difficult and tiring sometimes. Up until several months ago, I worked very little. Now I'm working a lot – from home – and "single parenting" it enough of the time to wish that he didn't travel.

A few of my single mom friends have said that when my husband is out of town, being an in-town, at-home parent is a harder gig. They get to go to work – outside the home, without the kids – and have some alone time. SAH or WAH moms don't, and when you're "on" 24/7, it can be a lot. I'm up very late, working, and then trying to work while taking care of the kids during the day.

I think anything can be difficult and I'm not of the opinion that one is harder than the other. Like you said, my single mom friends are my freaking inspiration. I'd never say that they have it easier b/c they get to go to work and be alone and I don't, but it was interesting to have that pointed out to me.

What I will say is that each of our unique circumstances can be very challenging for us individually, and I HATE it when someone gets into the "well, it's not *that* bad for you and here's why" thing. It's insulting and inconsiderate. Like you, I'm so grateful my hubby has a job (after going through a layoff when you're dependent on a single income, that gratitude runs deep) and I'm so grateful it allows us a *more* normal family life than his previous one.

But going it alone during the week? Like this week, when my hubby left on Sunday and won't be back until Friday and I'm really sick and both kids are sick and I want to cry? Yeah, it sucks. And it feels like single parenting.

I get it.

That is all. 🙂 (Apologies for my blog post on your blog post – it very clearly touched a nerve!)

addicted2shius 2010/10/28 - 2:41 am

Amen and I'm glad you finally explained that tweet. I don't think the term single parent applies to the marital status of the parent. It refers to the number of people parenting during that time frame. Before I entered the picture, my hubby was a single parent even though he was separated from his wife for 3 years. Separated, not divorced. So they were still married during this time. However she was not in the picture. He was a single parent. With him being in the military, I too am often a single parent. Why? Because I do the duties of both parents in his absence. As do you and any other single parent. The only difference is occasionally were are temporarily removed from that title when they return (or sometimes not).

If I were to post this on the military wives circuit, others would be pissed. Just because we've married doesn't mean our bunnies are always around to help and thus we do what we must for our kids.

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