Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tonight I am giving a big, no make that HUGE, shout-out to all the single parents out there. I just have to say that I have absolutely no idea how you do it everyday, day after day after day.

It has been about 2.5 months since Alex started his new job in Virginia. I am still thrilled for him, for he LOVES his job, something not many of us will know in our lives but we all should. He has basically been gone every week from Sunday night until Thursday around 7 or so. He is able to work from home one day a week, usually Fridays, but he has occasionally switched it up and been away Monday night through Friday night. I know many couples and families have done this, as there are a ton of jobs out there that require quite a bit of travel. But it is hard, no two ways about it.

Now, as much as this might totally suck for us, I really feel like I have no room to complain. Because at least he comes home 5 days later for a few days, I don't have to be working outside the home, and we are fortunate enough to have help from one of two wonderful nannies during the week. So I know that although this may not be our ideal living arrangement right now, it could be a heck of a lot worse. At least we have many choices, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I have been thinking a lot this past week or so about all the women out there who are doing this motherhood thing completely on their own. And I am in awe of them. Really. Is there anyone out there who is more amazing than a single, working mother of young children? Especially if that particular woman also manages to have a sense of humor and any thread of sanity left at the end of the day. I can not imagine doing this by myself, completely by myself. I mean, sure I would have my family to help out. And I would probably live closer to them to be able to take advantage of their assistance. But not having a partner involved in the nitty-gritty trenches of parenting would be extremely difficult.

I am exhausted at the end of every single day. Without exception. And then, to top it all off, I am up at least once, but usually two or three times every night. Even though I have help during the day, I rarely nap. I just feel like there is no time for napping. If I have an extra pair of hands around, I try to use the time to either run around like a lunatic, trying to get all my errands done in under 3 hours. Or I try to do something fun with the kids....go to the pool, the zoo, playground. Things that are made much easier for me when I have some help corralling everyone. I try to get dinner at least planned, if not cooking by the time Tatiana or Aimee leave, so that I am not scrambling (and crying) at 5:30 when the hungry, end-of-the-day meltdowns are starting. And actually getting through dinner, bathtime, and bedtime on my own with all three is stressful enough. Then I still have to clean up the house, put away clothes, and get things ready for camp, school, swimming the next day. Even with all that, I still lie in bed at night thinking of all the things I need to do the next day.

I can not imagine doing all of this on top of working an 8-10 hour day outside of my home. I really can't. To have to get three kids up in the morning, fed, dressed, out the door, (oh, and me too!) off to daycare, and then to work a long day, pick everyone up, get dinner ready, baths, bed, and keep everything around the house not looking like a nuclear wasteland is a feat like no other. And to not have a partner around to share in this craziness would be so stressful. I am so, well, lonely, at the end of the day. I have my peace and quiet most nights, but I don't have anyone to share it with. I don't have Alex sitting in his chair watching TV with me, making sarcastic comments about the new 90210. I don't have him snoring next to me when I am falling asleep. I don't have him there to take the next shift when I have been up 5 times before 3 AM. I don't have him there to just give me a hug and tell me I am doing an okay job with this parenting thing.

But at least I have him on the phone, iChat, Skype, and at home for a couple of nights each week. I honestly don't know what I would do without him supporting me as a mother. I crave adult conversation and contact in a way I never did before this living arrangement started. I mean I love my kids, but I can't let it all out to my 4 and a half year old daughter. At least not without creating some completely warped mother-daughter relationship that will drive her into therapy when she is 19 years old. And I can't exactly go out to grab a drink with a friend at 8:00 on a Wednesday night without the authorities getting involved.

How do these women do it? How? I know that there is this supposed feud between moms who work outside of the home and those whose work is their home and family. And I do believe that a stay-at-home mom works just as hard as those other mommies, but we don't get paid for what we do. I do believe that my work is stressful and difficult. But it is also very rewarding. And I get to be there for those little gems that my children give me once in a while. I just can not fathom what life would be like if I were still working a 10 hour day at the hospital on top of what I already do.

But I know that there are millions of women (and men) who do exactly that every day, day after day, with no end in sight. They are amazing, and I hope they know that. I hope that someone tells them how much they are appreciated and admired. Today I salute them, and all the work that they do.

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