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Tales from the Crib: The parenting challenges of Mom Solo

My husband and I usually divide and conquer on the parenting front — and I was a man down.

I was a single parent this week. My husband rarely travels for work, but this week he was out of town for three whole days. This doesn’t sound like a long time, I know. However, I have children with bountiful energy and sass for days, so I really needed to mentally prepare. Cue the Rocky theme song. This was going to be a tough 72 hours and I needed to train like a prize fighter to survive it.

It’s difficult enough when both of us are home and fulfilling our roles during the daily routine. By 10 p.m. we feel like we’ve run the American Ninja Warrior course and are being taken away on a stretcher.

I was expecting the worst and hoping for the best. To my surprise, the girls were absolute angels for three consecutive days from morning till night. It was my first motherhood miracle. Of course, in the back of my mind I was questioning if they had ulterior motives and wondering when this brief bubble of elation would burst.

Every morning they woke up early, got themselves dressed, helped me with the puppies and started their own breakfast. Ella did Adriana’s hair, ponytail and all. They went to the car and buckled themselves in every single day. We were early to school and I wasn’t popping a vein in my usual drill sergeant way of motivating them to pick up the pace.

I was brave and took them to Applebee’s with no other adults. Going to a restaurant with our children is usually super stressful. They fight, they don’t eat, they are climbing over the back of the booth, they are spilling drinks and making multiple trips to the bathroom. I am pretty sure my first gray hair was born from these dining wars. This week it was the complete opposite. They colored together and played tic-tac-toe, they didn’t scream for my phone, they shared their meals with one another and cleaned their plates. We only had to make one quick bathroom trip.

Was I in The Twilight Zone? Am I having an out-of-body experience? It was peace on earth — or at least peace in my world. When Anthony called to check in on us, I told him I thought hell had frozen over. He asked me if the prince of darkness was wearing a heavy coat on top of the ice caps in hell. I don’t know, maybe. Or maybe I should just go buy a lottery ticket. Either way, strange things were happening.

Although my girls were a dream come true, it was still a challenging few days logistically. My husband and I usually divide and conquer — and I was a man down. Two different drop offs and pickups, dinner, bath and homework — all me. Running errands, going to activities, arranging for child care so I could attend after-hours meetings is a lot for anyone. There is a mental health facility and a nursing home nearby. I often wonder which one I will be in first. I try not to take for granted that I have a spouse and partner and that we are in this together.

I have so much admiration for my mother and for my friends who are raising babies on their own. Parenting is a team sport and everyone’s team looks a little different. Whether your team is your spouse, your parents, your in-laws or your tribe of fellow momma bears, all parents need support. Raising tiny humans is freaking hard!

All good things must come to an end. The streak of good behavior ended abruptly when my husband returned from his business trip. I wonder what that was all about; were they just taking pity on me because I was Mom Solo? All I can say is, if you have kids, May the Force be with you.

Lynn Cristina is a mother of two who works full time as a marketing manager. Contact her at lcristina@tampabay.com or on Instagram @lynncristinablogs.

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