Our Story Begins:
Give Me A Break
It may have been the most sincere remark I have gotten in the last few years.
“My god…you never get a break, then, do you?”
It wasn’t mean-spirited or comparative or meant to belittle. It was simply true, a truth I hadn’t really thought too much about until the statement came out. It wasn’t meant out of pity or confusion it was simply a statement.
This all came from a conversation with another single parent. We weren’t comparing battle-scars or anything, we were simply talking. This person is divorced but has, more or less, full-time custody of their children. Yet the “more-or-less” part affords them a tiny bit of solace when the ex takes the kids, however quiet, scary or confounding that situation may be.
I will be honest, my state of mind has not been, for the most part, “good God I need a break!” But when I was confronted with the statement it came to me that it’s actually quite true. I don’t really get much of a break, not most of the time. Yet even with being a parent full-time there are things that just never seem to get accomplished.
Related: Our Story Begins: A Change of Season
Let me chronicle some of those for you:
- The washing machine is always on – I come home, change clothes, turn on the washing machine. There’s always a full hamper. The greatest moment in my life is when I look and the hamper is empty and the clean clothes are all folded. That, by the way, has happened maybe once in the last six months.
- The kids want privacy but you get none – Case in point: teenage child lives in their room. Door always closed. Complains it’s cold and the room stinks etc. I mention opening the door and letting air in and I get cold stares. Yet while I’m in the bathroom, naked, about to enter the shower, same said teen has no problem barging in on Dad and asking about going to an art fair, not leaving the room while you stand as you came into this world, sans shorts.
- Spongebob, Teen Titans or some other TV show…are…always…on! Not even good episodes. They will watch cartoons, with game boys or phones open playing games, and that damn sponge’s laugh will make your ears bleed until you shut it off to “HEY! I was watching that!”
All this comes after 8-10 hours or work each day.
All this comes to a head even more when someone at work or a casual acquaintance makes the statement “Oh my gosh, my wife/husband/significant other is leaving for a day/week/month! I’m doing the single parent thing just like you!”
What can you do? You smile. You nod. You fake laugh and try not to jump across the table or sidewalk and strangle them. I’m not doing comparative parenting but let me say, for the record, for all the single parents – even those with shared custody – you’re not just like me.
I love my kids and I love that I get to spend time with them. If I won the lottery I’d stay home and be a full-time dad. No question.
Yet as my kids age they see the same thing I saw after hearing that statement – I need a break, even if it’s a few hours. They have encouraged my playing occasionally with a band or my starting to date or going out for a drink with a friend or what have you because after the 10,000th mile as taxi dad even they see it’s time I did something for me. They may cause me to age prematurely but I don’t feel old and that’s the important part.
Yet sometimes my kids see that I need a break and they help push me out the door themselves.
So yes…it feels sometimes like I never get a break. But sometimes…my kids give me that break, even when I didn’t know I needed it. That’s a great thing.
Have you ever said that sinful comment of “I’m just like you, I’m a single parent?” Are you single parenting and can you relate?