Friday, July 29, 2022

Parenting Alone

I don't mean 'single' parenting, so don't misunderstand me. I have a very hardworking husband who supports our family and we are happily married. I could write a post on the hardships of single parenting: my mother and my sister are both single parents, though my mother is remarried now. I have seen it and lived it; and I do not seek to compare 'parenting alone' to single parenting.

Herein, I am speaking of parenting with little to no breaks. Parenting without extended family nearby to help. I and a host of other women are today parenting with no tribe and minimal community. 

And it is hard.

I don't have family who is around to help for various reasons that are quite complicated to go into in this post. I wish I did. Oh, how I wish I did. Maybe one day I will. It sounds like a dream.

For a long time I wanted to write a blog about how I cope with parenting alone. (I have actually written this post at least three times in my head while falling asleep!)

There are many ways to help alleviate the pressure of being an alone-in-a-bubble parent. Maybe your husband is a truck driver and your parents live out of state. Maybe your husband, like mine, is an engineer whose hours tally up to 10, 12 a day while you wait patiently (er, impatiently) for him to arrive home. No matter what, parenting alone is exhausting. 

We used to do dates by hiring a babysitter twice a month. This was in 2019, before covid. Now we cannot afford it because of the rate increase in the sitter service we used, and also inflation. I can't even afford to buy chocolate right now, seriously! I can't! That fact is also for another blog is through the roof.

But that's not new news, everyone can think of that! Hire a babysitter sometimes, or find a mothers helper... But many people cannot afford it. Or if they can afford it, can't even find someone! Sitters are scarce. 

Here is what I do to try and keep my head above water as a parenting alone parent. 

  1. Alone time with God. And by alone time I mean sometimes my kids are running around screaming and it's only five minutes. But it is important to at least try. It really makes a difference to me if I center myself in some way on Christ. 
  2. Learn easy meals and also make freezer meals. I try to make one freezer meal a week. This summer I tried to make as many as I could. They will come in handy, especially since eating out is not an option with the high prices, and our dietary restrictions. 
  3. Find friends. I know, I know. Your friends are also exhausted moms. But sometimes they can help. Last year my friend Megan from church watched our kids so hubby and I had a two hour date. It was our only date that year and it was amazing. We still have not had one this year and that's okay. It meant a lot to me. I offered to return the favor but Megan has solid help at home and didn't need it, but you can always start a babysitting swap with a friend that you trust! 
The biggest thing you deal with as a 'parenting alone' parent is burn out. I am sure if you have a ton of help you also get burnt out, but parenting in a vacuum of loneliness makes me burn out quicker. There is no mothers helper or grandmother to look out for, coming with crafts and snacks to watch your littles for two or three hours while you go to the dentist or grocery shop. 

I also deal with getting touched out. 

I also deal with needing a break from being needed/wanted. I love my kids, but sometimes I just want to not be the only one with all the answers! For just five minutes! I am sure this one will change as my kids grow and can figure out everything on their own...but for now, I am teaching them that mommy doesn't always have an answer right when they ask a question. Mommy is her own person and also needs space sometimes, and space doesn't mean mommy doesn't love you. It just means mommy needs a few minutes to think. 

I don't have any answers to burn out. It's really hard. Sometimes we have toast with jam for dinner and everyone is cranky, but we all wake up the next day and try again. Sometimes the kitchen doesn't get very clean or the laundry doesn't get put away or we cancel school for the day and just lay outside on the hammocks or read books all day... some of these things help but often they don't. Sometimes I try homeopathy and CBD oil and sometimes I cry. 

When I get really touched out I will put on an audio book in the kids room--they stay in there to listen and I flatten myself into my favorite couch and read a book, knit, or have an anxiety attack. You know, my three favorite hobbies.

I don't know how to fix the being needed all the time.

One of these days, if I am allowed to grow old, I will find a few lonely moms and be an adopted grandmother to their kids. I will. It is on my heart as I look at all the elderly ladies in my church with longing and confusion. They have their own families, but I wish they had some time for me.

The thing I will say: don't be bitter. Don't look at the grass in someone else's yard. Last week my friend was sick and her mother in law took her kids and her mother ran her errands and made food and I was jealous for a whole five minutes. Everyone is blessed in some ways, I am sure I am too. I'm blessed to be on this earth with my two happy children and my amazing husband. I am blessed to be loved by God, and able to eat things I haven't eaten in 8+ years and with a body that can do yoga and move and a beautiful blue sky that is not raining bombs down in a war. I am blessed, and I won't waste it with bitterness or anger pining for things I can't have. It won't help.

the two best blessings God ever gave me

God is good and I will get through it, my kids will grow up and if I'm lucky I'll be alone again and what do you know, I'll probably miss all the crazy little years. 

I'd love any advice on 'parenting alone' if you have it: what should I try to make this easier on myself? What things do you do? 

I'm still here and I am not giving up. But a day to myself does sound quite nice and unachievable. Such is life.

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