Oh, single parenting. Y'all. It's hard! Like, harder than I thought x 1000.
I remember friends telling me about parenting. They'd always say, "You don't have even one minute to yourself." And I believed them. I mean, I heard it enough, and they were my friends. Why wouldn't I believe them? But, at the same time, I couldn't in any way, shape or form imagine a life where I didn't have a moment to myself. I've lived by myself for the last several years, but I've lived with roommates, too...and I still always had time for myself.
I remember my friend, Mary, saying, "Everything about your life will change when you have a baby." Her specific example was, "Even the way you brush your teeth will change!" I laughed because I believed her, and it was a fun anecdote. And I smile now when everything about life changes. Because SERIOUSLY, everything about life changes. Except I couldn't visualize it or in any way comprehend how TIRED I would be when I became a mom.
I knew single parenting would be hard. But, I've never been married or in a serious relationship to need to look at life from two perspectives or with two sets of helping hands, so parenting was just another thing to do by myself. I don't mean that to sound laissez faire. I just mean I'm used to being single, so, while I knew single parenting would be difficult, I didn't have the option of a husband to co-parent with, so I didn't think too much about it, since I couldn't change it. (Any gentleman that is a God-honoring, single that wants to change that, by all means...feel free! :)
Until I started living and breathing single parenting, though, there was no way for me to know HOW hard it would be. C lived with me for a week. And don't get me wrong, it was hard. Excruciating at times, emotionally. But I knew fairly early on that it was going to be a short placement, and, in hindsight, that made the single parenting aspect of it easier. It was also during the school year, so she was in school and I was working. Normal schedule.
J arrived a week and a half ago. I'm out for summer, so every day's schedule is a little different. Coming up with enough activities in the day to keep her occupied, entertained and learning is a CHALLENGE. She doesn't sleep great at night. I'm hoping that smooths out as she becomes used to living here. Tired is becoming normal.
The timing of getting things accomplished is the hardest part. I mean running to the grocery store or Target. I'm getting much better at accomplishing these with a little one, but sometimes I have to go get her from VBS or time my tutoring around her activities, and just the actual scheduling of everything, while trying to keep her busy so she doesn't nap so she will (maybe!) sleep through the night, is exhausting!
If you're a married parent and reading this, think about every time you run to the store and leave your spouse with the kids. Or one is putting the kids to bed, while the other goes to get gas or an oil change. One takes the kiddo to swim lessons, while you make next week's menu, a corresponding grocery list, do two loads of laundry, and vacuum. One makes breakfast and grabs a shower while the other wakes up the little one, helps brush teeth, do hair and make the bed, then you and your spouse trade spots so both have time to get ready. Get the gist?
I don't have that option.
Not only do I not have that option. Add in the legal element of fostering. If I do want to grocery shop, clothes shop, get an oil change or run the myriad of other errands, I have to fill out paperwork regarding the short term child care that my parents are providing. It's not hard. It's just an extra step.
I have had one full night of sleep in the last 12. Tonight is the first night I've had an hour to myself, that wasn't packed with MUST DO ALL OF THIS BEFORE I PICK HER UP (and yes, the capitals are necessary, because that is the pressure I feel!)
I'm not complaining. I love her. She's learning how to cuddle. She's learning how to count. She's learning her ABCs. She's learning how to bake. She's learning how to sing silly songs. She turns her sweet tooth filled grin my way, and I can't help but smile back.
But, it's hard. And unless you've been a single parent, you absolutely cannot understand.