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On being a solo parent

I can’t quite bring myself to say I’m a single mom. Instead, when the topic comes up, I’ve been referring to myself as a solo parent. What’s the difference you ask? There’s not one.. it just makes me feel better to say solo parent.

When I think of a single mom, I think divorced parents. I think of my childhood and the struggles I watched my mom and dad go through as divorced parents, trying to raise my brothers and I apart from one another. I’m not divorced from my kids dad though and I don’t have an ex to complain about which is why I prefer the term solo parent. The daily struggles of being a solo parent are probably similar to those single parents face; figuring out how to divide my time amongst three kids, hoping to give each of them as much of me as I can and to make them all feel equally special. The reality of having a newborn and not having a partner to stay home with the baby for naps – instead either packing up the car with all 3 kids to go on an adventure and making naps work in the car, or just not leaving the house. Trying to get all three of them fed & dressed and out the door in an expedient and efficient manner (still working on this one) before it’s time to start the routine over again. Remembering hats, gloves, socks, snacks, diapers, baby food and not having anyone to run back home or to the car if I forget something. Finding time to read to Hudson, practice letters with Izzy and cuddle with Adeline – when I only have 2 arms and limited hours in the day. Needing to run to the grocery store for baby food, but having to pack up all 3 kids – making this quick errand into an hour, multi-meltdown outing. These are things we all as parents go through, typically with a partner to help lessen the burden, but single parents face these same daily struggles by themselves and that’s not lost on me.

I guess the difference and thing that glares out at me the most during the day is that I don’t have anyone to share in the happy moments with. The moments not caught on camera, the laughter, the pride seen when a goal has been accomplished, the Ah-Ha moment with each of the kids. Those are the moments Brian and I used to share together as the kids hit different milestones. Hudson fell asleep on the couch the other night curled up in a ball and hugging his ragged stuffed bear and it just melted my heart. I took a picture and just kept thinking I wish Brian could see this. Even if we were divorced I would still send this to him because only he would understand and feel how adorable this moment is. It’s Isabel writing her name for the very first time and how proud she was of herself. It’s Adeline finally rolling over and wanting her dad to hear the sweet sound of her laughter with me. It’s Hudson learning to count to 10. These are the moments that are hard because nobody else out there – except mom and dad- would find these moments as special as they truly are.

The other moments are hard too; hearing a child Izzy’s age say “I miss my dad” because he’s out of town for a few days and just thinking of how when Izzy says “I miss my dad” she doesn’t get the opportunity to have him wrap his arms around her after those few days apart like the other kids do. Having a massive measles outbreak in the town we live in and a 6 month old who is too young to be vaccinated, but being told in times of epidemic the CDC will allow her to receive it six months early if I’d like – and not having anyone to talk through the pro’s and con’s of this with.

These kids are now entirely my responsibility, the good, the bad and the ugly, it all falls on me. I certainly have friends & family I can call – I know that – but it’s not the same as talking through these things with the person who helped create these babies with me, who had the same vision for them and their upbringing that I do. And that sucks. It’s scary. Even with the best intentions I’m confident I’m going to do something that is going to scar each of them into adulthood and that’s a shitty feeling. I’m trying so hard to be everything they need – while figuring out what I need from myself – and how those two things are facing some overlap.

I’m so grateful for these kids, I know there are some of you out there who have wanted but are unable to have kids, who are about to be single or solo parents yourselves, whose kids are struggling with health issues. It sounds insane to say, but I know I’m lucky in this aspect.

You’ve all watched my life unfold this past year, going from literally the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life to not knowing if I was going to make it out of this alive – in the matter of moments. You’ve watched me (through words and photos) give birth to my third child, two months after carrying an urn with my husbands ashes down the aisle at his funeral. Even with all of this shit and chaos, I know it could have been and could still be much worse. My kids are healthy, I’ve got a beautiful roof over my head, incredibly supportive friends and family, and my husband worked his ass off to help provide for our family in the event something like this happened. I count myself absolutely thankful that I have what I do – knowing full well there are people struggling with similar circumstances and that it could always be worse. This thought has helped keep me motivated on the down days to push forward, to try to help those I see struggling, letting you know that we all struggle sometimes but all that matters is how determined you are to dig your way back out – extending your arm when you can to help those below you out of the pit as well. You’ve all extended your arm to me this past year and I’m so grateful to feel like I’m at a point now where I can reach my arm out too.

And just because this moment seriously pulled at my heartstrings, here’s Hudson and ‘Bear’ as witnessed asleep on the couch the other day. <3

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