Solo parenting blows.
Oops, I mean solo parenting is a great opportunity. I am so appreciative of the chance to deepen my understanding of my self, my limits and my patience. To find my inner drill sergeant and get the kids in line. I love to paint, glitter, cutout cardboard and discover the secret craft goddess that lies within. Empowered (and desperate), we seize the day and explore more new places than ever. Clarity becomes very high – should I ever find myself alone – I drop everything and do nothing IMMEDIATELY. I don’t dare waste one second of that precious time cleaning a dish or picking up a toy. And above all, I am forced to seal in the good habit of going to bed by 9pm so I can be up 2-3 times at night and ready to rock and roll at 5am.
Adam is employed by Secretariat of the South Pacific. SPC is the Pacific Island region’s principal technical and scientific organization. It delivers technical, scientific, research, policy and training support to Pacific Island countries and territories in fisheries, agriculture, forestry, water resources, geoscience, transport, energy, disaster risk management, public health, statistics, education, human rights, gender, youth and culture. SPC was established in 1947 and employs over 700 staff with headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia and Suva, Fiji with other offices in outlying countries including Federated States of Micronesia and Solomon Islands.
So, there is travel involved in his job and not just the kind that moves your whole family to the other side of the world. But the kind that takes him to Fiji for 2+ weeks to ‘understand the entire IT operation.’ This is true for much of the staff at SPC. The other (bitter) wives introduced me to the term ‘solo parenting’ and it is regularly the talk to happy hour. Who is ‘solo parenting’ this week and what do you need? A meal, kid pickup, bottle of wine, bitch session, chocolate cake? Lucky me, with three kids, unlike the usual two around here, I get extra inquiries. Its pretty amazing.
But as usual, I say “Nah, we got it.”
I’m tough. I can handle it. I always start out so creative, strong and inspired to be the best solo parent I can be. To make up for the absence of Dada and have a great time despite our captain of ‘Fun’ being in Fiji.
Part 1: Sunrise breakfast hike + picnic. Paloma in the backpack, Jonah carries breakfast, Ivy does whatever the heck she wants as long as she just follows along. Part 2: Lunch Adventure: Packed up 2 bikes, rollerblades, stroller, picnic lunch and swim gear. Threw lunch and Paloma in the stroller, strapped on my rollerblades and pulled up the rear as Jonah and Ivy biked along the oceanside promenade. Had a picnic lunch half way, rolled back. Part 3: Drive around while girls nap in the car, then hit the beach for a swim and jumping off the Pier! Part #4: Packed in from that and headed to dinner play date at friend’s house
With French school being more closed than open this month, I can only sustain this level of packing, unpacking and planning for a few days. By week 2 I realize why all these other women feel bitter. And they know… In the haze of the middle, I got a call from a veteran Aussie solo parent-er, Harriet.
“Hey, what da ya on?”
“I don’t even know. What day IS it,” I say.
“Want to come at 9 for coffee tomorrow, tha’d be Toozeday?”
“YES, that is exactly what I need.” (someone ELSE to suggest an idea, serve me, let ME talk and clean up the mess)
The thick of the ‘middle’ offers a silver lining though. I give in to disorder. To mess. To relaxation after 8pm. I toss the kids in their rooms and shut the door, put in earplugs and meditate for 25 minutes everyday. After all the littles finally fall asleep, I surf the internet and get sucked into TED talks and a 33 hour virtual conference on meditation. I leave dishes unwashed and laundry un-hung. I try on Adam’s philosophy and live life instead of obsess about order. And don’t tell him, but I like it.
But 5am still comes early and nightly dharma talks inspire me but they don’t make me feel less tired. The relentlessness of being ON. ALL. THE. TIME. is intense. By the end I just feel sunk.
After having a headache for 24 hours, I finally give into a cup of real coffee and an Aleve so I can survive the day. Make all 3 kids watch a baby DVD (Signing times) so I can take a shower. Send the kids to the neighbor’s house for hours of eating candy and cookies so I can clean up the house and think about a healthy dinner. Snuggle the kids to bed so they go to sleep in record time.
All in all, it’s a solid mix of desperation and exhilaration. Adam comes back from Fiji tomorrow and my solo parenting gig ends. The kids will be stoked to have the real champion of fun back and I’m looking forward to stimulating adult conversation and a few hours (a day please?!) alone. Hats off to single parents that do this on the regular, because that would really blow.