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Single parents astound me

By Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

Like many of us of a certain age, I grew up for the most part in a “traditional” home. My father went to work every day on the N&W railroad, and my mom stayed home and took care of the house and the kids. That’s the way it stayed until I was ten years old, and my parents divorced. But even after that, my mother never took a job outside the home until we were much older.

That’s not the world most of us live in today, however. It’s certainly not the world my family lives in.

Nicole and I both work full-time. Me, with the newspaper, and her with the newspaper as well as her full-time day job as the director of a telehealth program. Because of this we split household duties, including childcare. It isn’t so much an organized list of duties that we split as it’s taking care of what we see when we see it (or when it bothers us) and an informal game of, “I’ll take the living room if you do the kitchen.”

But there are some duties that seem to fall more on me.

Part of this is simple logistics. Even though we both work from home, Nicole’s typical workday isn’t always as flexible as mine. So, if someone needs to clean spilled milk, and she’s on a conference call, I’m getting that. Same with snack requests from the kids, fixing television sets and game systems, putting new batteries in toys, etc. That’s all daddy territory, especially the electronics. So much so that, if I’m on a call, and Nicole offers to do some of these things, our toddler will sometimes answer with, “No! Daddy do it!”

In his mind, these are things daddy does.  

Others are things that I enjoy more, like cooking. Or things that I’m more particular about, like laundry. But, like the heads or tails of living room or kitchen, these things aren’t set in stone. If I’m working outside of the house and have a long day, Nicole will make supper so I can eat when I get home. If she or the kids or myself need something particular washed, she can do the laundry just as well as I can. (We both are horrible about folding, hanging, and putting away in a timely manner.)

I truly am blessed to have a wonderful partner who supports me in these endeavors – and if you appreciate this paper, you’re blessed that I have her in my life too.

I’ve been reminded of that especially over the last couple of days, though. She’s been out of town for a business trip, and it’s just been me, the baby, and the critters at the house, and it’s been absolutely exhausting.

It’s only been two days without her, but any feelings I may have secretly harbored about carrying more than my share of childcare duties have completely melted away. It isn’t even that you can’t complete simple tasks like using the restroom – heaven forbid you try to take a shower – without at least three interruptions. It’s that you literally have no time to stop. If you aren’t filling a food request, you’re cleaning up a milk spill. After you refill the milk cup, you have to replace the food the dog stole off his plate.
Then there are the meltdowns over broken bananas and crumbled cookies.

There is never a moment to yourself, to get anything done. Never a moment to truly disconnect. And once you finally get them down to sleep for the evening, you’re too exhausted to do anything other than wash away the day’s drudgeries, and maybe lie for a moment with your own insecurities as a parent, before sleep takes you and the whole thing starts over again. It all makes me appreciate what Nicole does, as my partner, so much more. 

I don’t see how single parents do it.

I know, just like me, you love your children fiercely, and that’s why you do it. That’s why you go to work every day, to put food in their bellies and clothes on their backs and toys in their hands, no matter how tired you are.
It’s why you sacrifice time spent with friends and money spent on interests. We do the same.

I know why.

But the how astounds me. Exhausting isn’t strong enough a word for what you do every single day. You have all my respect. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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