People seem to love comparing misery. It’s as though there’s a 10 million dollar prize for ‘who has it worse’ because if you’re ever been in a room of parents, they’re all vying for the title. Don’t you dare say you’re tired to the mom of twins if you value your life; better not to tell the single dad you’re still a bit hungover from drinks with the boys. In a Covid rampant world, it seems this game of ‘who has it worst’ has replaced Candy Crush. Everyone is vying for the title to achieve validation of sorts. I’m here to tell you that we all have it rough. This is hard for everyone. Our circumstances may make life easier for many of us, but that doesn’t take away this being hard.
With that in mind, I am here to say that solo parents are not okay.
I am writing this in between two zooms for two different children who are scheduled at the same time. I am looking at my kitchen which is covered in flour from my son’s attempt to make pizza and my younger two children are literally fighting over my head right now as I type. Again, I am not saying that other people in two couple homes don’t experience this. In fact, I would much rather be in isolation alone than in a bad/unhealthy or unsafe relationship. But the alternative, a genuine partner to share this burden with would be great just about now. I am really at a loss for how this is supposed to be done. I have four children who need help with their classes and assignments. And I myself have freelance work to do. I literally have no idea how this is supposed to work. A 1-4 ratio on the best of days sucks-this, this is just terrible.
Last week, three of my kids went to bed mad at me. Usually, this has me feeling terrible about myself. It probes my worth as a parent and my value as a human being. This time, I just didn’t care. Their anger rolled off me like my threats to throw out their tablets rolled off them. I am edging the brink of apathy. The kind that just lets the kids play on tablets and listen to music all day and eat pizza every day for lunch. Not because I don’t want better for them. Not because I want to increase my internet bill, but because I just cannot do more.
I taunt myself with how my kids will look back and see their childhood, specifically me in their childhood. I will readily admit this is a very narcissistic exercise that yields little benefit to my own mental health. I can sit on the couch and watch SuperGirl with my daughter and bond over the events transpiring in the show. I can take them on scooter walks, wherein my kid’s scooter and I yell “stop at the road” from 10 feet behind, I can take them on drives to Starbucks drive-throughs. Above all, there is another thing I can do now that hopefully they look back on and smile. I can tuck them into bed with bedtime stories and cuddles.
I have actually come to really enjoy bedtime with my kids during this time. Not just because it signals the day is blessedly over but because it’s a time for connection and repair. Someone once told me that healing is in the repair. Bedtime with my kids has become a chance to heal from the craziness of the day, to mend the verbal wounds we may have inflicted on one another out of frustration, to restore the expression of love between us.
There is so much I cannot do. I am one person sorely outnumbered. And I feel it. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like I am not enough. I feel like I am forever not doing enough. And I have to accept the truth that this is all true and there is nothing I can do about it. But one thing I can do is show my kids love in the way I know how to, through affection, through care, and through the assurance that I am here. Always.
Like always always here.
But seriously always.
I go nowhere.