single parents everywhere: i salute you

It’s MLK day, and C. is in the playroom singing to himself and building Lincoln Logs. I’m drinking a coffee and feeling relieved: the long weekend is almost over and A. will be home from Phoenix later this afternoon.

I was a bit stressed about him leaving — A. spends every weekend morning with C. He handles the night-time baths. He gets home from work around the witching hour, and plays with C. while I cook. (A. often cooks, too.)

This weekend, A. wanted to meet a grad-school friend for a getaway to play golf, watch football and have time to himself before baby no. 2 arrives. And he deserves it.

But at 34 weeks pregnant, I’ve been extra tired and my tolerance for the 2-year-old “I WANT IT!” is diminishing. So letting A. go from Friday afternoon till Monday evening sounded hard. I also don’t have a lot of friends in the desert (not like D.C., anyway), so a long weekend alone with C. sounded even harder.

So I put together a plan. Saturday, C. and I would drive to Lake Isabella and find a farmer’s market and have lunch at the Kernville Brewery (which I have liked in the past). A girlfriend would drive up from LA to hang for the evening, and on Sunday, another girlfriend would come over for dinner.

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Over the past three days, here’s what I learned — and this is with just one toddler, not two or more kids, and it’s also while I’m not working.

1. Showering is virtually impossible. At the end of the day, when I usually shower, I had no energy for it (or I had guests). Therefore, A. will come home to a filthy, crusty wife.

2. A few more days of doing this, and I would probably stop making C. clean up after himself (for lack of energy and patience) and he would turn into an oinking pig in a pigpen and I would probably trip and kill myself on Tinker Toys.

3. We don’t watch TV (except for my Downton Abbey indulgence) and we don’t have an iPad, but C. likes to watch videos of himself on my iPhone (am I raising a narcissist?). I generally let him watch videos for a minute or two and then take it away, but I have a feeling if it was just me all of the time, I’d let him watch more. And I might even get an iPad.

4. How, oh how do single parents work full-time and eat healthy, whole grain meals? The one meal we ate out (lunch at the brewery)  — chili and a chicken sandwich — made me feel awful after a few weeks of mostly vegetarian low-fat cooking. But cooking is exhausting — I would probably have to eat frozen meals on TV trays every day.

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The weekend ended up being really lovely — despite the few meltdowns (C.’s, not mine) and his refusing naps and his sniffles. We pretended we were bears living in a cave and we read books and we went for walks and he gave me kisses and hugs. He even said, “Mama, I miss you” (he must not know what that means). But I can’t wait for A. to get home so I can squeeze him tight and let him know how much I appreciate him.

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