jeudi, janvier 27, 2005

For All the Single Parents Out There

[Closed circuit to all my readers out there: My work is no joke right now...I mean to write more, but my days are insane and my nights...well, my'll just tell you...]

My wife is in Atlanta right now for a Horticulture conference. She returns on Saturday, and in the interim, it's daddy day care. Good times. Good times.

What's remarkable is that this is remarkable. My wife works every 7th weekend, and on those Saturdays and Sundays, my daughter is with me from 7 to 5. In the summer it's pretty darn easy. We just hang out in the fresh air and work and play. In the winter, being with a toddler in snowy Minnesota can be challenging. If I can say it respectfully, toddlers are like border collies; they are happiest if they can run until they drop.

My wife on the other hand...well...she's with our little one whenever I travel, and let's just say that I do my share of traveling (so far this year: NJ, San Diego and Sunday I leave for Denver). These days with my wife away will give me a small appreciation for what it is like for her when I am gone. Our daughter is wonderful and kind and polite and good natured with toddler jags of fury and rage and isolated moments of contrary behavior. But for the most part she is pretty darn good. What I've observed is that it's best to keep her fed and rested and engaged. Woe unto him who will not heed this warning.

But four days of daycare and every 7th weekend all by my self is really not that tough. It can be tiring and frustrating, but, for the most part, it is wonderful. I don't get to spend too much time with my daughter, just the two of us, and I try to regard it as precious. I don't always succeed.

What I can barely wrap my mind around (even as I understand that most of us adjust to the challenges of the life we lead) is how single parents do it. I'm telling you what. I would struggle. We all need a teammate...we all need someone to tag up with when life is giving us the piledriver, and we all need someone to bounce ideas off of, etc. That there are single parents out there making their way, and doing their thing largely on their own makes me embarrassed and ashamed that four days on my own is a noteworthy event.

So, as I care for my daughter by myself (and figure out how to make it to the Timberwolves game on Friday night), I raise a glass of this season's best beer to all the single moms and dads out there gettin' it done. But only one glass - I need to stay sharp while we work the Dora jigsaw puzzle and I limit my daughter's applesauce intake to three small bowls.

Two subjects come to my mind with all of this: first, can we acknowledge that it's just better to have two parents to raise a child? It's hard because I, for one, do not want to place value judgments on the lifestyles (intentional or unintentional) of others, but man, oh man it's nice to have an extra set of hands. Can we just say that and still love our brothers and sisters who are single parents?

Second, in the two income house - it can be hard to manage it all. This is our (atypical) ten day stretch, starting last Sunday:

Sunday - go to Mamma Mia downtown; immediately after play Duf leaves for San Diego
Monday - Mrs. Duf with TinyE
Tuesday- Mrs. Duf with TinyE; Duf returns at 10:00 pm (thanks grandma and grandpa)
Wednesday - Mrs. Duf leaves for Atlanta
Thursday - Duf with TinyE
Friday - Duf with TinyE (Timberwolves tickets...hmmm)
Saturday - Mrs. Duf returns from Atlanta
Sunday - Mrs. Duf works to disassemble the orchid show; Duf leaves for Denver.
Monday - Mrs. Duf with TinyE
Tuesday - Mrs. Duf with TinyE
Wednesday - Duf returns, jumps off plane and attends State of the Company meeting.

It all leaves me thinking that the one wage earner, one parent at home, two parent model is ideal - even as I recognize, respect and admire all the other models out there (including our own).