Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Single Parenthood

Or, Why I Need To Let J Know How Much I Appreciate Him

J is on a business trip this week.  He left Monday afternoon for a 4-day, 3-night stay in sunny Detroit for a training seminar on the software he uses every day at work.  He'll be back Thursday night, and I certainly hope he'll be well rested and bushy-tailed, because it is likely I might fling him in the general direction of the baby and go running for a bookstore or coffee shop the moment he steps inside the house.  When I expressed a little jealousy that he'll be staying by himself in a hotel room, J responded that he would be spending several nights in an anonymous hotel room with nothing but basic cable for company.  "I'd rather be at home," he said.

"A crying baby," I countered.

"My smiling son."

"A not-too-bright dog bleeding all over the house."  (Separate story: Obie managed to hurt his foot and then trailed bloody footprints all around the first floor before we noticed).

"The sweetest dog in the world giving me a lean," he replied.

"Your ticking time bomb wife.  You never know when she'll go off in a sleep-deprived haze of hormones."

"Someone to talk over my day with and to make me laugh."

"A crazy-eyed cat yowling in your ear."

"All right, you've got me there," he finally admitted.

I'm not really that jealous of J's time on his trip.  I am, however, not letting myself think about how overwhelming four days of single parenthood will be.  So far, we're doing fine, but that's mostly because I haven't let LO in on the secret that J's been gone longer than usual.  (I think LO thinks that we're having a REALLY long Monday.  He just went through Daylight Savings Time for the first time, so I'm sure this feels just as strange to him).  I figure if LO doesn't know that J is out of town, he won't decide that now is the perfect time to test Mommy.

I have actually found myself wondering how single mothers do their thing ever since LO was born.  (To be honest, ever since I got to be visibly pregnant.  Without a partner, who do you get to tie your shoes in the later months?  Do single moms just wear slip ons?  And what happens if a very pregnant single mom drops a $50 bill?  Does it just stay on the ground?)  I honestly couldn't have gone through labor without J.  He was the one who reminded me to breathe, and I doubt I would have listened to a stranger through my cloud of pain.  Since then, whenever I've reached any kind of breaking point, J has been there to pick up the slack.  When I was sobbing in the middle of the night over how difficult breast-feeding was, he calmly suggested I go back to the lactation consultant.  He equally calmly picked up his head from where I bit it off after I rejected that suggestion.  He also was quite calm the next morning when I looked at him with a sunny face and told him it was a good idea to make another appointment with the consultant.  He helps me to be a much better mother to LO, for which I'm very grateful.

LO and I will be perfectly fine through the next few days, but it's still going to be hard.  I can't imagine what it would be like if I were a single working mom right now.  First of all, the child would be wearing Halloween costumes for clothes every day this week, because I know I wouldn't have gotten to the laundry over the weekend.  (Day 1: "Yeah, he's a little pumpkin today.  It was just such a cute outfit I wanted him to wear it again."  Day 2: "It's chilly today!  The caterpillar costume looked so warm and he has so few cold weather clothes.  You know, he was a summer baby."  Day 3:  "Okay, you got me.  He's wearing a skunk costume....And now it's covered with spit up.")  Day care would get my child and an empty diaper bag because I would have forgotten to replace all the items after I cleaned it out.  I would probably be showing up to work in spit-up covered pajamas.  Dinner would be a gourmet assortment of whatever produce is still in the fridge dipped in either peanut butter or ranch dressing--whichever is more appropriate for the type of produce.    In short, I would have a hard time getting my act together if it also involved a work place.

J is an absent-minded professor type. (A common conversation in our house follows this pattern--J: "Have you seen my X?"  Me: "Isn't that it 6 inches to the left of you?")  However, J is also the person who keeps me on track.  (Another common conversation--J: "Why don't we leash up the dog and put LO in the baby bjorn and go for a walk?"  Me: [sniffling over something that isn't working for me] "Okay.")  We make a pretty good team.

I'm grateful for our good partnership.  Although it won't stop me from giving J some solo time with LO when he gets back from his trip.

No comments:

Post a Comment