Tuesday, February 21, 2012

10 Things Tuesday: 10 Things My First Encounter With Solo Parenting Has Taught Me...

The Grumpy Old Man comes home late tomorrow night, a few hours short of a whole week parenting on my own.

I know I'm not the first woman to parent on her own. I know I'm not the first woman with four children to parent on her own. I know I'm not the first woman with low vision and ADHD to parent four children on her own for [only] a week.

But I know this has been a first for me. It's been a steep learning curve, and I've learned quite a bit from this exercise. So, I thought today I'd reflect on what I'd learned...

#1 I rely on The Grumpy Old Man quite a lot, and I don't mean to do stuff like take out the rubbish or even get up in the morning and get them ready for school (though, he does do that and bless his little cotton socks for it, because quite frankly homeschooling has been at the forefront of my early morning thoughts for many days now).

No, I rely on him emotionally. He's my sounding board for all the billions of thoughts that hustle for room in my brain box every day, and without that sounding board, I'm feel as if my head is crammed with stuff I just can't let go off because I haven't had a chance to talk-it-out. Yes, I have learned I'm a four year old.

#2 Sleeping on my own in a house full of kids isn't as scary as it used to be. Before this week, I was a big old scaredy cat when it came to being alone at night with the kids. Being alone in a house at night doesn't worry me - it's the being responsible for kids bit. Suddenly, having had kids, I worry that if there was an intruder, that person might get to the kids and I wouldn't be able to do much to stop it. Also, if there was a fire, could I manage to get four children out of the house safely on my own? I didn't used to be able to sleep much when the Grumpy Old Man spent nights elsewhere, but a week on my own has cured me of that!

#3 A lot of stuff doesn't change at all. My world hasn't been turned upside down per se. It's more like a slight tilt which can cause dizziness at times, but mostly I'm fairly well adjusted...

#4 Now, this may just be because I don't drive and parents doing a solo act who do drive might have a different experience, but I can't speak for them... When your child has a sore throat and it's getting dark outside and you don't have anything in the house to relieve their pain, it sucks to be a solo parent because there is simply nothing you can do about it. You're it when it comes to making sure you have everything you need.

I'm lucky in this regard, because my eldest is old enough to help out - this morning he had to run up to the servo to get milk because even though I went to the shops yesterday, I didn't get milk and so this morning we found ourselves short. Usually, there is someone to watch the kids while someone else goes and gets stuff, but when there is only one adult it pays to be psychic.

#5 Solo-parenting is a lonely business. Maybe not so much for people with a lot of people in their lives, but I've been so lonely this week I can't even begin to describe it. With four children there is always someone to talk to, but the conversations at always at their level and there is a lot children don't get or don't need to know.

#6 I still hate cooking.

#7 The house is a lot cleaner. I've always had this thing about not liking being watched while cleaning, so I'm not inclined to clean much with the Grumpy Old Man around the house most of the time. I do what is absolutely necessary, but leave the rest a lot of the time. With him gone though, I've become a little obsessed with getting this house clean. Maybe he should go away for a week more often...

#8 It is true what they say about the children of solo parents growing up faster because they take on responsibility earlier. This week I've relied on the older boys to do more. They've always been very capable and the GOM and I are not the kind of parents who molly-coddle out kids at all; they've always had responsibilities according to their capabilities. Even so, this morning I sent Erik and Luey off to school in charge of Bryn. I was always going to do it this year. They only have to walk a couple of hundred metres and cross three fairly quiet suburban roads (the one at the school is busiest but they've crossed it a million times). The only thing that was holding me back so far this year is that old saying, 'Two's company, three's a crowd' - if it was just Erik and Bryn or just Luey and Bryn it would be no issue, but sometimes the three of them together can lead to disputes and in that situation Bryn can become unreasonable. However, this morning I found myself sending them off on their own all the same because I'm not feeling 100%.

#9 Being the only person in charge evokes Murphy's Law. That power cable to the house that has been working fine for 80 years will suddenly blow up the very first day you're the only responsible adult in the house...

#10 I can parent on my own. I can deal with a crisis; such as no electricity at night and no transport or place to go which does have electricity. I can get by without another adult to share the load.  I can  get up every morning and get them ready for school and keep the house clean, and cook dinner every night, and answer every one of the billion questions that come out of the kids every day, and supervise homework, and organise play dates and so on and so forth. I can do it all on my own with four kids, no car, low vision and ADHD - but I'm ever so grateful that tomorrow night the Grumpy Old Man will return and share the load. I know that in the blink of an eye I could become a solo parent and that the future is never guaranteed, but I know that I sincerely hope that never happens!

My hat is off to all the parents doing it on their own out there!


Michelle said...

on point #4 - being able to drive is all well and good, but when its 8.30 and one is asleep and the other needs meds from chemist, you still cant leave to get it.

Im glad that this week has given you the opportunity to see all you CAN do, rather than focus on what you cant :)

The other bad bad thing about solo parenting, is being sick. Im sick atm and Boyd was a godsend last night. He made dinner (wheatbix and cherios) made me warm milo, got out of bed to get me tissues and got his sister ready for bed.
Yes, they grow up a bit faster, but these older kids seem to see a bit more past themselves when theres only one parent.

It is lonely - I spend far too much time online when kids are asleep because I need someone to talk to, some adult conversation. But it wont last forever for me, nor other solo parents.

You are very lucky having GOM, and Im sure you know it xxx

Sif Dal said...

Of course, you're right - having a car doesn't mean ultimate freedom - only the possibility of it, whereas not having a car (not driving) means the inevitability of limits.

I have to say, Michelle, the net has not met my need for adult conversation at all. I think I'm very reliant on the non-verbals; the warm inflections, even just the sound of the other person breathing and being in the moment with me. I find net communications and conversations too distant. I'm keenly aware that as I type, no one might be 'on the other end' and likewise, when they are responding, I might be off doing something else and so we don't actually share the moment. It has made me very aware that I need to have better face-to-face relationships with people...

Linda said...

I'm the opposite Michelle-I really enjoy the evening when the kids are asleep-finally some peace and quiet!!

It does seem like you came out ahead after your challenging week Sif. I hated being alone at night before I found myself single-now it's just the norm. I have had sleepless nights thinking about the fire escape plan though. I have security grills on every window and the kids couldn't get out without my help. I had them both in my room until 3 weeks ago as I thought at least we are all together if something happens.

I do feel lucky that the kids Dad is very much in our lives-even though I have them 24/7.

I agree with being psychic-you learn after the first time you don't have that thing in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning.

I'm so glad you made it through your week :)

Anonymous said...

I do not even know with incredibly blog greatly that helped me! God bless you “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” - Henry Ford

Sif Dal said...

Thanks for the lovely well wishes. Linda, I really enjoy the quiet evenings, too. Last night I was thinking this had all turned out easier than I had expected, but then of course, I also knew it was coming to an end. If it was a permanent arrangement I think I would find a lot harder to adjust to, knowing it was the status quo, you know?

Jayne said...

Glad you survived :) I really hear you on the loneliness. I honestly dont know how I would have gotten through so many years without the Internet. It has saved my sanity many a time. I'm fortunate I think in that I'm an introvert who loves solitude and that my lifestyle entails seeing loads of people most days. So at home I'm all "leave me alooooneeee!!" LOL :D But there are those nights when you wish you had someone to talk to. Someone over the age of 10, who isn't on the other side of a screen. And I totally agree on how much it sucks not being able to go down to the shops late at night because your kids or one is asleep, or just that it's all too hard to drag them out just to get a loaf of bread. Or when you have young kids and you are sick-they dont understand that mummy needs to be left to sleep, and they need caring for. I'm SO SO fortunate to have my mum, and that their dad has always been able to come and take over if I'm really sick. I honestly don't know how those single parents who don't have that cope :(

Good Job!