Early this morning, nursing Moira for the second time in three hours and thinking about how ugly three o’clock can be when you have to be up at five-thirty, I started to feel pretty nostalgic about those days in my early twenties when eight hours of contiguous sleep was actually a thing. Once the baby was full and satisfied, I laid her down to sleep, and soon thereafter greeted my old friend Insomnia — ah, the peculiar conundrum of sleep deprivation meeting the chronic inability to fall asleep. I read a book for a hour and then, just as I’m starting to drift off, a bomb detonated in the region of Moira’s diaper.
In my desperation to grasp those last 90 minutes before getting up for work, I turned to my peacefully dozing husband and made a quiet plea: “Please, honey, would you change her?” And he, perhaps sensing my tenuous grip on sanity, pried himself out of bed to go don his hazmat suit. As I finally fell off to sleep, two things came to mind: “I am going to need some very strong coffee today.” and “Thank you, sweet baby Jesus, for my husband.” And what’s more: when the alarm went off 90 minutes later, that man got up out of bed again to go make the coffee. Bless him.
That got me thinking about my previous post on motherhood and stay-at-home parenting. Yeah, I would still prefer to be a stay-at-home (or mostly-at-home) parent, and because my husband is supportive and hardworking, I might even get to do that someday. But there are a lot of parents can’t even dare to dream of staying home to care for their kids, because they’re doing it alone. They are the Alpha and Omega of their households, the beginning and the end, the Only. Single parents are the real heroes.
I’m thinking specifically of my sister, who is raising her young daughter on her own. Her baby is growing up fabulously, and my sis gets to take all the credit for that because she’s doing it all — all the work, all the parenting, all the earning. I cannot fathom supporting Moira on my own and doing everything that she does. People like my sister deserve an all expenses paid vacation with a nanny to watch the baby (babies) while Mom or Dad downs some maitais, because Christ, if a little sleep dep is making me feel crazy, I can only quiver in fear as I consider what single-parent families go through on the daily. I’ll just go ahead and amend the statement I made earlier and say this: yeah, being a working parent is tough, but being a single working parent is way tougher, and I commend you! Way to kick ass!