Often one of the most challenging parts of being a single parent is wondering if I’m “enough” parent for my kids. Can one person really fill a role meant for two?
While it’s crazy-making, I’ve got a pretty good handle on the logistics of it all: Getting both kids to two different after school activities at the same time, doctor’s appointments, haircuts, picking up groceries on the way, and actually turning those groceries into a meal, etc.
Somehow it all gets done more or less on time. Sometimes my mother will take one kid to whatever practice is going on that day so I can stay in the office a little later. That’s a huge help, of course. Otherwise, I inevitably bring my work home and finish up in the evenings.
Logistics complications aside, I generally am the only support for my children. When my daughter got asked to her first dance (how did she grow up that fast already?), it was me she came to for advice. I’m so grateful we have the type of relationship where she feels comfortable talking to me about these sorts of things, but it can be a lot of pressure being the *only* source of that advice, hoping I said the right thing.
I don’t have the luxury of bouncing ideas off another parent or having someone reassure me that whatever consolation I offered was right. This goes for lots of conversations and decisions that happen every day that may seem like no big deal for a married couple – they’ve always got someone else in their corner. It can be difficult to be confident about parenting decisions when you don’t have that support built in.
At my son’s first soccer scrimmage, the coach asked for “any dads willing to step in as goalie” so the kids could all play field positions. My son jumped up and volunteered “My MOM can do it!”
He’s right. I played soccer for many years as a child, and I’m still pretty athletic now, but I had worn flip flops to his practice – I wasn’t exactly dressed to play. But who would say no to that? Besides, I was pretty proud that he ignored the dad request and volunteered me.
Of course I stepped up, but I left the field with quite a nice assortment of bruises on my bare feet after being trampled by a gang of six-year-olds in cleats. It was totally worth it, and great fun being right there in the game with my son and his teammates. Now I’ll go to every future practice in sneakers.
Hopefully, both of my children continue coming to me when they need to talk, and hopefully both still want me involved anytime a parent is asked to participate – mom or dad. I know as they hit the teenage years it will be less “cool” to come to mom for anything, but for now I’m doing my best to establish that I AM enough for them in hopes that will override the “cool factor." At least sometimes.
Stacy Lamb of Apex is the divorced mom of two. She is an active member and former organizer of Single Parents of the Triangle. Find her here monthly.