Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Challenges of Being the Only Grown Up

Like most other single moms (or military moms, or moms of multiples, or moms of three under three, or homeschooling moms, or working moms, or moms of kids with special needs . . .), I have had people say to me, "I don't know how you do it." I appreciate the spirit of the statement, but I never know how to respond. When it's all you've ever known, it's just normal. I don't know what it would be like to do parenting and household management any other way. It's weird to think about how it would be to do all this with someone else. (I'm not opposed to finding out someday, though.)

Recently, though, I've found myself compiling a mental list of those moments when having another adult around would be handy.

1. When my kids are already sitting at the dinner table and I come walking up holding the salt and pepper shakers and yell out, "Salt, salt, salt, salt, salt and pepper here and they're in effect," I get nothing but blank stares in return. Someone at the table who could appreciate my 1980s rap references would be appreciated.

2.  I waste a lot of wine. There are evenings on which I like to relax with a glass of cabernet after the kids are asleep. That cork only keeps the wine good for a couple of days. So, assuming it has been a week in which I haven't been able to string together several consecutive evenings for wine enjoyment, I silently pour the remaining contents of the bottle down the kitchen drain. This is sad.

3. One time a "friend" of mine looked at me solemnly and said, "You are almost forty and totally single with two kids. It has to be impossible to find anyone. I would hate to be you." We aren't so much friends anymore. She would not have been able to share her awesome concern for me if I had not been the only grown up in my house.

4. I wouldn't have to wonder why doctors' offices have boxes for both "single" and "divorced" under the personal data section. I usually check both. Perhaps that causes a little hiccup in the data entry process. I suppose for some people being divorced leads to high blood pressure or shingles or something, or maybe there is a scientific study showing that having an ex-spouse shaves six years off your life. I just know I feel like I'm being judged by those little boxes on the form.

5. I want someone else to handle bedtime once in a while. So much. I was so exhausted one night earlier this week that by the time we got home from wherever at 8:30pm, I told the kids, "Take off your shoes and brush your teeth. Then let's all get into my bed and have a contest and see who can fall asleep first. Whoever wins gets to have a piece of Easter candy with breakfast." That was the extent of the bedtime routine for the evening. No bedtime stories, no poignant reflections on the occurrences of the day, Oh, and I totally won the contest. And I ate a purple Peep with my coffee.

6. My very patient and wonderful co-worker would not have to deal with me coming into his office every morning to talk through whichever episode of first Breaking Bad and now House of Cards I had just watched the night before (as he had already seen every episode of both by the time I started watching them). Of course, perhaps it should occur to me that if there was another grown up in my house, he might not enjoy the same television programming as me. So, maybe my co-worker isn't off the hook either way.

7. No longer would I be able to respond to the question, "Where is your husband?" with my standard answer of, "I don't have one of those anymore." OK, I might miss the confused reaction I get to that one just a little bit.

These are all silly and trivial points, of course, while the actual happiness and strength of my family are matters I take quite seriously and into which I put a lot of thought. And if someday there is another grown up who comes along who will understand and appreciate the quotes from Heathers that I seamlessly inject into a breakfast conversation or who will nod in agreement when I tell the kids their efforts to change my mind will prove just as futile as Napoleon invading Russia in winter, then that will be lovely as well.  

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