Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Some Solo Fun?

Don't worry; it'll be fun.

My husband is traveling for work a little bit this summer. One to three years ago, this would have meant that during those days, I'd be spending a lot of time attempting to nurse one baby to sleep while entertaining the other, exercising during naptime because I couldn't leave the house for a run for four days' time, skipping baths because I was too tired by 7 p.m. to give them, and whimpering to myself.

Luckily, children grow and things change! I know: it's a revelation!

A few years ago, when I wrote about how desperate I felt during one of my husband's business trips, home alone with two toddlers and no help, a then-friend (who had never been a full-time at-home mom with one baby, let alone two, nor had ever lived more than an hour from either her parents or in-laws and who also had a nanny so had never spent even one full day, let alone four, without help) responded snarkily with a loaded "Wow." She also enjoyed describing how fun it was when her husband traveled for work, how she and her boys did all sorts of special, exciting kid-and-mama things, like camping out in the living room and eating ice cream cones for dinner and watching movies and popping popcorn. (I may be paraphrasing a bit here.) I didn't point out that HER CHILDREN WERE THREE TO FIVE YEARS OLDER THAN MINE and perhaps were capable of doing something other than nursing, waking up multiple times during the night, getting their diapers changed, needing their food cut up for them, sleeping in a crib, and CHOKING TO DEATH IF THEY ATE POPCORN.

Needless to say, that person is no longer a friend of mine. Because really, who needs that kind of response from a friend?

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is this: while I know that solo-parenting for four days this month will be exhausting, and that NO DOUBT there will be some yelling and possibly whimpering (by me, I mean)--especially at about 9 p.m. on my third straight day without reinforcements when my children are still awake in their beds, fussing and calling for water and the fan off and the light on and tummy medicine--it is also much, much different to solo-parent a newly-six-year-old and an almost-four-year-old than to solo-parent infants, babies, and toddlers. Meaning, my daughters are now able to do a lot of things that they once could not--things that make my life easier than it once was, and things that can be fun for us all. We can go on fun mama-and-daughters adventures and eat popcorn and skip the occasional nap in order to squeeze in a day trip to meet a friend for ice cream and a visit to a big city park. No one is nursing, or in diapers, or potty-training. No one needs to have every bite of every meal fed to her on a spoon by someone else (me).

It's still the Summer of Fun, and I've got lots planned. But some of it is going to be Solo Parent Fun (With a Little Yelling and Possibly Whimpering). I'm sure it's going to go just fine.

But even so, if you have babies or toddlers and you find yourself partner-less in parenting for any period of time, and you feel a little (lot) overwhelmed and desperate and disappointed in your mothering limitations, and you tell me all that, I won't raise my eyebrows and say, "Wow."

I'll say, "Oh my God, I totally remember those days, you must feel like poking your own eye out with a stick. I'll be right over."


Angel said...

Hope your days solo go well!! I know the feeling. :) Yell if you need any help!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad things have gotten easier (I can't wait to say that myself). I'm sorry you lost a friendship over this. From my experience, written words are so tricky -- meaning can be construed where none was intended.

Shan said...

@Angel: thank you! I appreciate it!
@Anonymous: oh no, the friendship was lost over many, many more things than just this! You have no idea.

Donna said...

I've been both the traveling parent and the solo parent. Both are hard, but I think the solo parent is harder. I find that the day-to-day stuff is easier now that they are older, but even with that, it's still hard.

Hang in there!