Aug 22, 2011

Bubble Gum on My Beard: The Plunge into Single Parenting

Cari over at Bubble Gum On My Shoe invited me over to spew rubbish on her blog.  She's a Single Mom of two cute kids and asked me to provide a Dad's cut on solo-raising a runt.  We decided to tap out a duet and share a couple of different perspectives on this topic.  This post is a steaming slice of deluxe. 
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Cari's on deck, hit it:

Does a Single Mom have it easier or harder than a Single Dad? Same challenges, different genetic make-up.  Does that even make a difference?  The great thing about blogging is that even in a community, i.e., Single Parent, Mom, Dad, Special Needs, Cooking, Gardening, stalking boy bands, etc., the circumstances may be similar, what makes it intriguing is the differing perspective. So I, with a little help from fellow blogger, Beard, am going to offer a little {long-ass} three part series; sharing our perspectives as a Single Mom and a Single Dad.

There is so much to say we had to break it down:

Part I-The Plunge into Single Parenting

Part II-The Journey

Part III- The future of a Mom raising a son and a Dad raising a daughter

That is a big ol’ can of worms friends, promises not to be dull.

4-1=Family

There are not many people in this world who willingly choose the life of a single parent {plate of crazy if you do}. Sometimes the transition is long and slow leaving you a Single Parent mid-life. Or in my case, it sneaks in and life changes in the blink of an eye, and when I say blink, I mean overnight. My sweet title of stay-at-home-Mommy had been reluctantly revoked and the term Single Mom, was being chiseled into my very being fast and furiously.

Only just the night before I was most concerned with my children’s emotional well-being, cherishing
my job as primary hugger and boo-boo kisser, book reader, bath giver, chauffeur, and caring for my
household. Those things still remain, and still are my most cherished. Now the responsibilities for caring for my children’s basic needs fell to me as well. How would I provide for them? Where would we live?  How am I going to do this all by myself?

I’m a pretty stubborn chick, and wasn’t about to let Ex or fear get the best of me. I would not settle for less therapy for my Autistic son, which meant working a lower paying job to gain flexibility to work around his sessions. And every time a roadblock appeared without warning to crush my perfect plans, God answered my prayers and I found a new way. God answers prayers in the form of dear friends, family and co-workers who won’t listen to you when you say, “I don’t need any help”. Thank God they didn’t listen to me.

The single parenting gig wasn’t in the plan, but it is my reality. Daycare wasn’t supposed to be raising my kids for hours a day, I was never going to live with my parents ever again {really!!}, I was never going to have the “why doesn’t Daddy live with us” talk. I was also suppose to have a partner to bounce ideas off of {I talk to myself a lot} and have someone to grow old with and spoil our Grandbabies with.

Indoctrination into Single Parenting is a tough and lonely road. So far it hasn’t gotten any easier, I’m sure it never will. You develop thick skin, and continually one-up your exhaustion level. Parenting alone can make you guarded and doubtful. Don’t let it.

Guess I should thank the little people; my two precious gifts. Really, I’m the lucky one. I get all the hugs, all the kisses; I get to see all the “firsts” and don’t have to hear what I missed. Hard as it may be, the rewards outweigh the trials. But anything rewarding or amazing in life will always be hard; that’s what makes it worth it.

Beard's turn, go:

Beard and a Baby Bjorn

So what's it like for a dude raising a dame? Well, I guess the story morphs as Pigtails grows. And a few chapters remain to be written. For now, we'll rewind time back to the cold plunge into single parenthood.

I was a helpful husband and father even as the bread popped from the oven. But when ex-wifey lobbed me a bye-bye grenade and vanished when Pigtails was a babe, it was an entirely new level of hands-on parenting.  As in a poop-smearing-pee-spraying-diaper-disaster-while-baby-grunts-and-grins level of involvement.

Our household shifted from stay-at-home honey calmly managing our casa to me fumbling around praying for a tag or something pointing me in the right direction of the front/back of the crap-catcher.  Perhaps 1 in 4 diapers were bolted on incorrectly, which likely explains the frequent hot messes. I quickly discovered that wet wipes, not dogs, are a man's best friend.

Early days were a mad hustle combo'd with fear that I'd mess something up. What the heck and when and how much was I supposed to feed this hungry beast as she molted from baby into toddler? Would grilled ribeye and garlic taters fly for a 2-year-old? I was alone, my family was mute. Thanks Google, you got my back.

Lined up daycare (boo!) and doc appointments to inject booster shots. Quietly consoled Pigtails when she roamed the house confused, asking "Mommy, where's mom?" Tried to ignore gawking neighbors as my toddler wailed while strapping her to stroller and parking it on the porch so I could mow the grass.

Oh yeah, one more thing...tossing the tot a live vacuum does the trick of keeping 'er quiet and the floors clean. Win.

Thanks to Cari for co-posting with me!  She'll help answer questions/comments below, so leave a note and we'll rattle out some responses.

-Beard

9 comments:

  1. Visiting via your post on Bubble Gum. Totally impressed with your single daddy skillz. I will definitely be taking notes.

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  2. So glad to have found my way here.

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  3. Rachael8/23/2011

    I don't have kids, don't even want kids. But I love reading about them, including the trials and tribs of raising them. I am in awe of good parenting skills - there couldn't possibly be a more difficult, challenging and rewarding job.

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  4. Christina and Nessa, welcome aboard!

    Rachael, I'll let you borrow Pigtails for a couple days so you can taste parenting. Warning: she'll yak your ears off.

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  5. Rachael8/25/2011

    And I'll let you borrow my two high energy dogs for a couple days. We'll see who cries "uncle" first.

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  6. Rachael...Pigtails does vacuum.

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  7. Rachael8/25/2011

    A yakker has to be better than a barker, no? Pigtails vacuums and my guys refuse to do any housework whatsoever. Hmmm, sounds like I'd be getting the best of that deal. I just don't think I could bear to be away from my little knuckleheads for more than a day.

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  8. My vote is I send my daughter to Cari and Rachael her dogs to Cari and we call it a draw.

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  9. Disclaimer: I let kids and dogs play with matches.

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Thanks for the note, check back for my response!