Our Story Begins:
The Dichotomy of the Single Parent
People talk a lot about the idea of being a single parent. The sole authority, singular gender, solitary parental unit, is without a doubt the most challenging and schizophrenic job I have. Schizophrenic, you see, because my brain has to juggle being Mom and Dad. The lines blur on a minute-by-minute basis. That being the case, I thought giving you an indication of what my Thanksgiving holiday was like would give others – parents who have a partner in a household – a very clear indication of what it’s like for a single father.
The old, chauvinistic way of doing things would imply that Dad worked and Mom stayed home. Using that outdated model, there are Dad and Mom hats I wear. Dad did, indeed, work Wednesday. He drove to the airport and picked up oldest daughter who told him all about what’s coming and the fact her service engine light came on. This came after $800 in repairs had already been done.
Dad then put on his Mom hat and cooked. Dinner has to be made no matter what. It’s here Dad and Mom hats began to feel the effects of a cold, brought into the home by one of the twin sons. A wave of exhaustion hit as the evening drew but at best, as the only parent in the house, you basically have to ride out that wave. Knowing it was the case Dad/Mom made pies. Two pies were pumpkin, one was a bourbon chocolate-chip pecan. Yes, dear readers, Dad is a guy and yes, he knows how to and has grown to enjoy cooking.
Dad (or is this Mom?) took the only time he had – even on a day off – to go for a run Thanksgiving morning about 7am. He then got out the Mom hat again, readied the turkey, got the Cranberries gong, started cooking the stuffing from an old family recipe and peeled the potatoes. The cold had hit full-force by now. It’s here Dad/Mom took a shower, having successfully covered himself in sweat, chicken broth, bread and spices.
Remember, the twin boys also had a cold. Tired, bored, distraught, they all were coughing up a lung, it seemed. The more bored they were the more miserable they acted. Fortunately, growing up the son of a pharmacist and having been married to one for 18 years Dad – or was that Mom? – knew what to give them. Giving them medicine just boosted their energy levels. Now they were rambunctious and coughing up a lung. This was followed, every 2 minutes, with the querie: “is there anything to do? I’m bored!” Mom and Dad both yelled at them to play outside, even though it was raining.
When Dad/Mom needed to go out for a few minutes oldest daughter explained that the car battery was dead. Dad broke out the jumper cables and realized a full-on dead battery meant buying a new one. Dad informed oldest daughter she was never allowed to touch a family vehicle again.
Dad then removed an air intake under the hood, took out many bolts and the battery terminals and found a store open that carried replacement batteries. $120 later Dad/Mom was starting said SUV to take the children out of the house to avoid hearing “is there anything to do? I’m bored!” Dad/Mom worried the entire time he’d left some burner on and would burn down the house.
Dad had to scrub off the grease off his hands in order to avoid the Mom-hat-wearing Dad from seasoning the potatoes with eau de Honda. He then mashed said potatoes. The family ate and – dutifully stuffed – indulged in the aforementioned pies.
It’s here the family is regaled via text and social media of tales of Thanksgiving past involving my late wife from friends, family and acquaintances. Growing melancholy, the children pointed out that they didn’t eat on the china, there weren’t leopard-spotted decorations and it was just Dad and the kids. Mom, you see, would have added some pizzazz to the meal.
Related: Our Story Begins…With a Flourish!
Dad put on both the Dad and Mom hats then hugged all four children in turn. He then tickled them and informed them that Dad cooked the dinners when mom was still alive. He also pointed out that a guy doesn’t generally decorate in leopard spots and that he liked his house filled with guitars and the jazz music coming from the stereo. He smiled when remembering Mom’s holidays and reminded them that remembering her isn’t sad, it’s warm and pleasant.
Dad then cracked the whip and made them clean up. He promised to go in two days to get a Christmas tree before oldest daughter went back to college.
Then came Friday morning when Dad put on his work clothes and drove off . . . starting the whole process over again.
What about you? Are you scattered, running, wondering which hat you wear?