Our Story Begins:
I am certifiably crazy.
I would have to be. If you walked up to any sane, single, unmarried person and told them they were going to be responsible for the lives of four little people with no instruction manual and little or no help and your only guidance being to remember how your own parents raised you they would scoff, walk away and maybe call the hospital to have you looked at for a psych evaluation.
Parenting, you see, may be strange. Single parenting . . . is in-sane!
Here’s why . . .
So many things are hanging by threads: your kids’ health; their grades; dinner; laundry; housecleaning; school; homework; dishes . . . all of those threads dangling in front of you and in my case there are four little people running around the house with scissors.
Related: Our Story Begins: THAT Moment!
You rely on other people should you be unable to do something. You might even break down and get help from people you don’t like very much because pride goeth before a fall, after all.
Oh yeah . . . pride? That went away a long time ago. Your clothes are consistently wrinkled, your hair unkempt (and turning grey(er)) and there’s almost always some sort of substance embedded on your clothes. You didn’t put it there, by the way, but it’s there nonetheless. Your friends are all too nice to tell you.
People tell you all the time “you look tired!” You resist the compulsion to punch them in the nose and exclaim “tired?! I would give my right arm to be tired you *%^&$#! I passed tired, took a left at exhaustion and hit catatonic about a year ago!”
Worry is a constant state of mind. You worry you forgot something in the kids’ lunches. Then in your catatonic state you worry you forgot to make the lunches at all. You worry the school will call and say your son had a migraine or is throwing up in the office. This inevitably happens when you are somewhere hours away from the school and unable to drive there before school gets out.
Children will refuse to let you see them naked but have no mechanism to resist the compunction to walk into your bedroom when you have no clothes on and are just getting out of the shower. (See also: walk into your bathroom when you are using it)
Same children will either a) tell you there are no clean clothes without realizing they’ve left every dirty piece of clothing on the floor of their room rather than the laundry basket; or b) yell at you for looking at their underwear because they don’t want you to see what they are wearing and claim it is because you ruin all their delicates.
By the way . . . you’ll ruin more than one batch of clothes, but this is during exhaustion. At catatonic it’s routine muscle memory so you generally don’t ruin anything anymore.
You’ve seen poop, pee, vomit, pus, blood, illness, tears, anger and tantrums. You’ve fixed injuries and fixed problems. As a dad you’ve learned you aren’t supposed to fix everything and learned to listen when fixing something isn’t an option.
On more than one occasion per hour you will realize that four conversations are going on at once in front of you and you will a) understand all four of them, which worries you; or b) you scream that you can’t talk to everyone at once! The children then look at you like a creature so mad Bruce Banner would go “geez, don’t make HIM angry.” They’ll then say “don’t get all crazy, Dad!”
Which you are.
So why do you do it? How do you do it?
Those aren’t the proper questions.
You’ve seen these one, two, four, however many kids come naked and afraid into the world. You carried their weight, both physically and emotionally, and you realize that you’ve done all of this without really thinking about it. You’ve become the one, only person they can rely on to guide them, care for them and love them.
That’s when you realize it. They don’t see that you’re crazy. They see that you’re always there, you’re constant and unwavering. They believe you know what you are doing, even if you think you don’t. They hug you and smile when you walk in the door.
Then the proper questions are not why or how you do it? The proper question becomes . . . how could you not?