Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Raising Kids Alone, Part II

On October 2, 2015 I wrote about being a solo parent from the perspective of recognizing that it really does take a village to raise a child and that we are all called to be part of that.  I shared the struggles, the challenges, of trying to raise kids alone.

But I found myself today reflecting on this in a different way, from the perspective of the gifts that I experience in being a solo parent, as well as being the solo head of house.

I have found that my children are much closer to me than they were before.  The downside of this is that I worry they have not done the "growing up and away" that kids are supposed to do, or at least not as early or as fully as other kids.  But while I have a bit of concern about that, I also really enjoy the closeness I share with my kids. They talk to me.  I know not every parent experiences that from their kids.  They share with me their fears, their hopes, their dreams and their frustrations.  They ask for one on one time with me and we value that time together, both individually and as a family.  We are close in a way that I see only shared by other solo parents with their kids.

Secondly, I get to make the kid and parenting decisions on my own.  There is no debating, the decisions are mine to make. I shared the downside of this before which is that I know I sometimes make mistakes with those decisions, or I don't always choose what is ultimately best for my kids (though I try hard to do so). None the less, there are times when it is simply easier to not have to make every decision about the kids with someone else.

Thirdly, while I have had to learn some things I never really wanted to learn, on the other hand, I've learned many things that I now value knowing.  Even more, I've learned how to DO things that I never expected I would learn how to do.  I had no desire to learn how to mow a lawn, but I know how to do that now.  I had no desire to learn how to fix basic household things, or how to hang outdoor Christmas tree lights, or how to change the furnace filter, but I know how to do these things now.  I know many women learn these things without becoming single moms.  And because I believe in equality, it embarrasses me at some level how traditionally our roles ended up being divided in some ways. But they did. Not anymore.  And finally, I never thought I would learn how to do this:

     Cutting hair and shaving heads (sometimes he chooses to have a shaved head) just never made the list of things I expected to learn how to do.  But I do it now for my son on a semi-regular basis.  (As an aside, my son's crabby face is not because he doesn't like having his hair cut.  He didn't like that his sister was watching. (sigh).)
       Yes, being a single parent is tiring at times.  I can become overwhelmed when everyone has immediate needs at the exact same moment.  But there are huge gifts as well.  And for today, I am grateful for the life I am leading this day.