Thursday, July 15, 2010

Successful Solo Parenting

Now that I can safely admit that it was last week that Christopher was traveling for several days in a row, leaving me and the girls home alone (you probably all guessed that anyway, right?), I feel compelled to tell you that it was THE BEST WEEK EVER. Uh, no offense to my husband?

Seriously. We had SO. MUCH. FUN. And the girls were angels. There were literally NO meltdowns, tantrums, crying fits, defiant voices, or fussy freak-outs until Friday afternoon (just before Daddy came home). I think I went my longest stretch of time ever without yelling. (The math is easy: good behavior = no yelling.) Bedtimes were easy as pie. Everyone was happy, easygoing, and cooperative. The days were full, busy, and happy, and the evenings were 100% fine. I never felt like my tank was below empty or that I didn't have the energy to cook a proper meal or fold the laundry. I planned a TON of super-fun summery activities for us to do, and we loved every one. The girls followed all my rules without complaint. Every chore got done. We picked 2 gallons of sugar-snap peas and 1 gallon of green beans at our farm. The cat was fed, the plants watered, the car filled with gas.

Do you get what I'm trying to say here? The most remarkable thing about my span of solo-parenting--beyond the fact that it involved no yelling or crying (or whimpering)--was that it was, in some ways, completely unremarkable. Of course Daddy was missed, and everyone was glad to see him on Friday, but it was no harder caring for the girls on my own than it is when I'm not on my own. Maybe even easier, and my theory about that is that I am the stricter parent, but also the clearer and more consistent one, and with only me as a parental variable, there was no room or reason for negotiation or defiance or even fussing about the bedtime routine. Done, done, and done. And yes, I realize this was only four days, and that the wheels may have fallen off the bus eventually. And I don't mean to insult my traveling husband, who needless to say loves his daughters with all his heart and is a great dad. But there's no denying the week was easy and pleasant.

Taking care of kids by yourself for several days in a row may be nothing to you--maybe you do it all the time, maybe even with more, or younger, kids than mine. But it's not routine for me, so I don't enter into it expecting it to be a breeze. It's nice to be pleasantly surprised.

Hooray for--despite the normal mama nostalgia and the baby lust and all that--children growing up and things changing. And for summer weeks when everything magically goes perfectly, and you're doing it all on your own, so you can legitimately pat yourself on the back and say, Nice job, SuperMom in Wonderland.


collin said...

Nice post. I liked it.

Take the Caring For Toddlers test and find out how good are you at caring for toddlers.

Mnmom said...

The summer of 1997 I was alone in Iowa City all week, every week, with 3-year-old twins and a house on the market. And packing for a long distance move. John was already in MN with a new job.

However, I remember it being rather easy. We were on no "supper" schedule and meals were usually cheese, crackers, and fruit. I had them in bed every night by 8pm. Then I would slip into my comfy summer pj's and read a completely indulgent and mindless Rosamunde Pilcher novel. It was the easiest summer on record.

Except one twin would routinely wet her pants which the pediatrician told me was probably anger at Daddy being gone. So missing him WAS an issue.

Shan said...

I knew Mnmom would know what I meant! :)

Donna said...

In my experience, when one parent is gone, the kids seem to 'step it up' on their own and that helps to make things go a little easier. Having only one parent means the kids know they can't try to divide-and-conquer and they know the rules will be consistent no matter what.

Yes, there is nothing like successful solo-parenting to make you stand a little taller and be a little prouder of yourself. Good job!