You all with the parenting partners--the live-in kind, I mean--have been holding out. Having another live person in-house to share in the childcare gig is, um, REALLY FUCKING GREAT. I have not updated for a while not because anything was wrong, but because I was having such an easy, breezy time of it with my friend Nik here for the last week.
- None of this is meant to be any kind of poor reflection on D's role as my partner. It is just the reality of the situation where the kids need a lot of physical care at this age and D has a lot of health problems right now. I think that when the kids no longer need so much physically from me in the next few years, I will not have so much of this "single mom" feeling.
- Despite the topic of this post, my visit with Nik consisted of other things besides my slave-driving enjoying having his help with the kids. We actually did--gasp!--grown-up things as well! And had grown-up conversations! But for this post, I'm going to talk about how I turned over all manner of responsibility to him for a week and enjoyed being a lazy couch potato mom.
- I'm going to cover up my ears and "la la la la la" when you comment about how I am forgetting that in real life, partners have to work and wouldn't really wait on me hand and foot and have spats about the laundry and whose turn it is to give the kids their baths and who forgot to bring home the milk from the store and who spends too much time on their hobby or whatever. You hear me, commenters? La la la la la la la.
I mean, get this: On, I think it was last Monday morning, I got to sleep AS LONG AS I WANTED TO, knowing full-well that the kids would be up, dressed, had breakfast and be entertained and safe while I slept. I have not had one. single. day. in the past three and a half years where I didn't have to get the kids up. This was literally the first time someone took the kids in the morning for me since they were born. And I realized how much easier and less stressful it is when you don't have to do EVERY bathroom trip, change EVERY diaper, mediate EVERY sibling dispute, and watch EVERY move they make all day, every day. It isn't as if I haven't had babysitters or occasionally D or my father look after them while I am in the vicinity, but for 8 days straight? By Friday or Saturday, I felt about 30 pounds lighter just from the stress that had been released from my brain. And the freedom to just run up to the store unencumbered by children. How many more little errands you can do without them. To just have them able to seek attention from someone else besides me all the time. I was such a lazy, slovenly mom all week. It was great.
What concerns me about this little experiment is this: Say I had help all the time. I wouldn't be as lazy of course, and my 'help' wouldn't be able to be as accommodating because of course they would be living here and having their own life, too. But I could see the potential systems that could be set up. The divvying of the work, the things that you could rely on. The backup you would have. The improvement potential. The better mom I could be. How much am I cheating my kids by compromising my own skills, energy and sanity levels with this exhaustion? I made this decision, I don't regret it. I will work it out. But what is my responsibility here? How hard should I try to get support so that I can be a better parent to my kids?
I'm not going to go out and get married or anything. Nik and I are not in a position to get married and besides, 3/4ths of other people's husbands sound like they don't pull their own weight anyway and then it becomes a management issue where you are parenting the husband as well. D will be able to step in to the role more and more as the years go on. So this is mostly a semi-permanent problem. Or a semi-temporary problem, as it were.
Or is it a problem? Tons of single women do this, many while working more hours than I do. Maybe I'm not working hard enough. Maybe I just need to suck it up and demand more from myself. No, the baths won't get skipped when I'm too tired. The toys will get put away each night. The homeschool projects will get done each day. I will not yell at my kids when exhausted. Ever.
Just the mere thought of that level of expectation for myself makes me want to run into a wall repeatedly. No, there must be a better way to be a single mom of two preschoolers. Hire more help? Ask for more help from volunteers? Manage my stress better? My schedule better? Work less hours and live more cheaply? Work more hours and end up with a salary that goes to daycare, yet gives me a kid break?
It is the age-old question. What level of good parenting is good enough? I think--I KNOW--I do a pretty good job. But when smacked in the face with how much better I could do if the work were shared, it makes me wonder if pretty good is good enough. But there are no live-in partners; no stay-overs at daddy's house in the immediate future at least. So, I guess I just continue to put one foot in front of the other, try to control my stress level and energy level to some decent degree, and just be "good enough."
But I had a very nice week.