I do single parenting every day. It’s a demanding occupation and identity, since you are THE person on call 24/7 for all your children’s, physical, emotional, developmental and spiritual needs. The only respites are when you are at work or asleep, and not even those are sacred.
The hard part, actually, is not the intensity, the exhaustion or the worries, although there is plenty of each. The hard part is lacking a ready person with whom to share the good things. Whom shall I tell about Helen’s fabulous report card, the acrostic poem she wrote about me, the perfectionism of her magnetism science project, or how the squawks of her clarinet have suddenly turned into sounds. And who will ever know about Mei’s latest lost tooth, how she laughed the magical moment she learned to swim, her devotion to digging up worms, bugs and grubs and making them new homes. What I miss the most are savoring with someone else the small exchanges about the everyday moments of Helen and Mei’s lives as they live and learn and grow. Not to mention the silly stuff they say.
This week, I am single parenting in a new way. Helen is off for her first ever week of overnight camp and for the first time in four years, I’m parenting just one child instead of two. Tomorrow it will be four years of juggling two children, and I realize how distracted I’ve been, performing the balancing act between the two, refereeing rather than parenting. This week Mei and I got to sprawl on couch reading book, after book after book (Michael Catchpool’s “The Cloud Spinner” featured every time). We had long conversations about how to paint stars on your fingernails, what happens to seeds in the ground and why cucumbers from the garden are so good. We tried to catch the big frog that had hopped into our neighbors pool and we both woke up at exactly 3 a.m. and fled our hot rooms for the more comfortable air conditioned living room (but not before having having some crackers with peanut butter as a midnight snack). We got to tend to each other in a new way, know each other and really enjoy being together.
I can’t wait for Helen to get back. But its been great to be the single parent of a single child for a week. And to share that with you.