My son’s daycare teacher confided in me that she is also a single mom. It gives me great hope. Not just because she seems like an altogether wonderful person, but also because I have met her grown children – and they are great. In a country that makes you second guess every choice you make as a parent, being a hardworking single parent can be like holding a little folding umbrella in a torrential downpour of doubt. I am by no means suggesting that one parent could ever be superior to two parents; I am merely suggesting that perhaps one parent can be successful despite the odds. I hate the term “broken home”. I think the term itself is outdated and implies that all two parent households are whole and successful. I hate that my son will have to field questions from the children of people who use the term “broken home.” He’ll probably have to do it at a young age, before he even has“awareness” that something is different about his family. How do I prepare him for that? When do we have that talk?
Tonight, I had a particularly insecure evening of back and forth and ups and downs with my 3 year old. Doubt rained all over me all night long. Happiness over a drawing he brought home from preschool, tears over putting on shoes to go to the library, tears over having to leave the library, happiness over jokes in the car ride, tantrum over having to stop at the bank, tantrum over not wanting to come inside, happiness over dinner on the back porch, HUGE tears over not being able to watch Diego because of ultimatum I laid down earlier about not coming inside when I asked…and on and on and on. At the end of the night I found myself having an argument over spitting after brushing teeth and I found myself genuinely getting mad at this stubborn little man refusing to spit. I got frustrated with him and became stubborn myself and refused to pick him up. More tears. Finally we got to the end of the night and as I laid him down for bed I told him softly, “I am so sorry we fought”. He said softly back, “it’s okay…if I can I go outside and play right now”… Sneaky devil. Luckily I can laugh by this point.
I wonder if this is what a “broken home” feels like. Up and down, back and forth. Or maybe this is just what parenting feels like in lots of different kinds of homes. I’m not sure. All I know is that doubt is such a constant I begin to take it for granted, like a residual ache that an athlete endures from an injury sustained years ago. Am I doing this right? Will he be okay? What can I do better? Not so different from teaching sometimes I guess. But somehow with teaching it gets easier year by year. Jury is still out on it getting easier as a parent. At any rate, I think about those great kids of the daycare lady. She probably doesn’t think it got any easier. But boy did they turn out great.