I’ve remarked a lot over the last year about how much I’ve learned since having a kid. There are plenty of things that you simply can’t learn until you’ve experienced them hands-on yourself. This is why flight simulators are a thing before people get to fly a plane; all the reading in the world can’t prepare you to fly a plane until you’re flying one (or simulating flying one). It’s partly the human element of lack of imagination: we can’t accurately picture how we’ll react to something until it happens. Part of it is lack of hubris. “What happened to Jane in that situation would never happen to me because I make better choices than Jane.” It’s how we get frustrated at lots of policies and decisions made by lawmakers that make no sense to people living in the world.
Take for instance, parental leave after a baby is born. I knew it was important. I saved all my time off for years so that I could use it for maternity leave, and I got 10 weeks on our old system at work (they changed to a new, automatic 12 weeks off system 6 months after my son was born, go figure). I didn’t realize HOW MUCH that time off was needed until after my son was born, though.
I learned really quickly that extreme sleep deprivation makes adults make poor choices, even when they think they know the correct choices to make. The idea that parents can learn how to care for a new human and all that comes with that, and be expected to go back to work mere days after giving birth, is laughable and infuriating. It’s no wonder we get bad service from people sometimes – maybe they just had a baby within the last two weeks and can’t think in complete sentences, much less care about your cable plan (Verizon) or help you find the screws you need (Lowes) or put together a correct fast food meal (Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut) [Source].
While we were on leave last year, we marveled at the ability of new moms and dads who had no leave, and yet were able to care for themselves and their new babies. They’re superheroes in my eyes.
Along the same vein, my husband occasionally goes out of town for work and the grandparents come into town to help take care of my toddler with me. They are extremely helpful, but there’s still an element of single parenthood to it when your partner isn’t around. Mine was gone at the beginning of the month and I marveled to a single mom at work one day that I admired her ability to do it all, every single day. She’s obviously not the only single parent out there; she’s not even the only single parent in our office. As I was writing this last weekend, I thought single parents should have a day all to themselves to celebrate the hard work they put in to raising a child on their own. So I googled it, and of course, that day exists, and it was actually last Thursday, March 21. I missed it by 5 days!
Single Parents Day was signed into action by President Reagan in 1984, to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work, sacrifices, and devotion of single parents to raise children without a partner.
So it might be a few days late, but I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge you single parents out there in APP blog world. You’re amazing, and you’re doing amazing things for your kids. I see you taking them with you to work, out to dinner, to the park and to playdates. The work to get them ready in the morning is all on you. The work to get homework done, get them fed, bathed, and ready for bed after work when you’ve worked all day and would love to just sit and decompress, is all on you. You might get help from neighbors, family, and friends, (and thank God for all of them) but you’re still the lone parent in charge. You’re the one making hard decisions about when to take them to the doctor when they’re sick, about which school to send them to, what food to feed them, how to discipline them.
I see you, Single Parents. You’re amazing, and your kids think so, too. Thank you for the love and care you show your kids, and the effort you make every day, when there’s no one to share the load. You’re the best.
Also, just a reminder that the Nurture Birth and Baby Fair is coming up on April 6. If you’re a new parent (with or without leave, with or without a partner), or if you’re expecting, come by the VA Science Museum between 10am and 3pm on Saturday, April 6 and see how the Richmond Community can help you! Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter this week (before April 1) to get a special offer just for newsletter subscribers! Sign up here.