Thoughts On Solo Parenting

My husband, a soldier, left for field duty when I was about eight months pregnant. Though I was one of the lucky few Army wives whose husband could make it home on time for our delivery, he left again after a week. So technically, ever since our son was born, I have been a solo parent to him. Or more aptly, the only physically present parent.

Though I had never expected and hoped it wouldn’t be the case, a life in the Army prepares you for any such eventualities. OK, you are never really prepared, but you always just know (no matter how much you try to deny or escape it) that sooner or later, you are going to be parenting on your own with your husband away serving his nation.

So yes, even though I thought I was mentally prepared, when motherhood actually hit me, I just didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be on my own. On several occasions the early days of parenting have been compared to a train-wreck, just no one tells you how terribly horrible it is when you are the only one in-charge of the whole show. Along with recovering from a painful C-Sec surgery I had to be the only one to be responsible for this tiny little child that I was trying so hard to keep alive. If marathon breastfeeding sessions were not enough, burping him was also my responsibility. So was changing his nappies every single time required, even in the middle of the night, being the recipient of all of his reflux-mess in all its newborn glory, unable to even pee or poop in peace because he just wouldn’t stay with anyone else.

Sometimes when I see pictures and videos of fathers along with their newborn babies, I feel a longing I do not realize exists in our daily grind. Or when I see dads playing or dancing with their kids, taking over baby duties from mommy, I cannot but feel a tad bit of jealousy laced with a deep sadness for my son. You see, he doesn’t really know what living with his father is like. For us, I am the one who wakes him up, feeds him, dances with him and plays with him, takes him to the park, shops for him, puts him to bed and stay awake if need be. I am the one who travels with him multiple times a year to see all of the family scattered all over the country. I do not have the luxury of just nudging my partner awake to look after the needs of whatever my baby might require in the middle of the night. I do not have the luxury of sleeping even a single minute extra once the baby is up and about because even an extra second of sleep might have disastrous consequences considering babies like to indulge in adventurous activities right when the parent is asleep. I do not have the luxury of someone taking care of my baggage when I am travelling or holding the bub for a while to give me some rest or even when I need to go pee.

I do not have the luxury of having someone to shout at when I am frustrated or cry to when I am sad.

So, despite the fact that I live with my family and my food/housing needs are well taken care of, I am so so deeply mentally exhausted!

I watch with an inexplainable heaviness when the bub prances around any male adult he meets, trying to garner his attention or trying to gain his approval with his antics, something that should have been reserved for his father. Turns out, he does understands and desires the presence of a male adult in his life. The only blessing in disguise has been that the bub has been too young to ‘remember’ his father or understand the meaning of it. Until now!

Also, when the husband is indeed on leave, two issues arise - you suddenly feel that this nice, little daily routine that you have set with your child is suddenly thwarted with the arrival of his charming parent because now the father wants to make up for the lost time by playing beyond sleeping hours or taking him out on drives one too many times or feeding him yummylicious outside food (throwing away all the efforts you’ve been making to feed your child ‘healthy’ diet out of the window).

Also, more often than not we end up fighting because I resent that he has never been around while I got to bear all of the parenting shitload while he had it easy and he feels a heavy pang of guilt for not being able to be around and then trying to prove how good a father he is (which closely overlaps being in a competitive sphere with myself as the mother) - so whenever the husband does get something right about what the bub might be communicating and he exclaims, “See, I know him better!”, all hell breaks loose in my head, like don’t you dare tell me because I have been the one cleaning his shit everyday for the last two years, sometimes several times a day when he is teething!

But if I may excuse my whiny self, here’s the utter truth - solo parenting is any day better than single parenting. I will forever be in awe of and hold in high regards all those moms and dads who have been raising their children on their own. I at least get to speak to my husband over phone on most days, take major parenting decisions together and share every update I get chance to. I really cannot even imagine how parents who are on their own do it! So, hats off to you and bless you!

And if you are a solo parent like me, just hang in there! Life is going to get better. Stay strong and stick to it. You are already doing a great job! 

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