August 22, 2011

Bubble Gum on My Beard: The Plunge into Single Parenting

Does a Single Mom have it easier or harder than a Single Dad? Same challenges, different genetic make-up. Does that even make a difference? The great thing about blogging is that even in a community, i.e., Single Parent, Mom, Dad, Special Needs, Cooking, Gardening, stalking boy bands, etc., the circumstances may be similar, what makes it intriguing is the differing perspective. So I, with a little help from fellow blogger, Beard, am going to offer a little {long-ass} three part series; sharing our perspectives as a Single Mom and a Single Dad.

There is so much to say we had to break it down:

Part I-The Plunge into Single Parenting

Part II-The Journey

Part III- The future of a Mom raising a son and a Dad raising a daughter

That is a big ol’ can of worms friends, promises not to be dull.

Meet Beard. He sounds scary, creepy and hairy but is pretty harmless as far as I can tell, and is a pretty tremendous Dad. He blogs over at Beard and Pigtails, and if his writing doesn’t reel you in; his sweet little 9 year old daughter {Pigtails} will.

Also, ladies, don’t e-mail me asking for his number; my hands are tied, he won’t even give it to me and I’ve been stalking him for months.

Beard and a Baby Bjorn

Cari's crazy brave inviting me over to spew rubbish on Bubble Gum On My Shoe. Ms. B.G.'s keyboard dishes the wit, she's a fetching Mom and friendlier than a baby monkey. Shame, if only she wasn't so fond of the bottle.

Today's post mixes a different spin on single parenting. Picture a smelly-pits, hairy-faced Pop raising a sweet (until she's hungry) little girl. I am that man, poor Pigtails.

So what's it like for a dude raising a dame? Well, I guess the story morphs as she grows. And a few chapters remain to be written. For now, we'll rewind time back to the cold plunge into single parenthood. Jump in...

I was a helpful husband and father even as the bread popped from the oven. But when ex-wifey lobbed me a bye-bye grenade and vanished when Pigtails was a babe, it was an entirely new level of hands-on parenting. As in a poop-smearing-pee-spraying-diaper-disaster-while-baby-grunts-and-grins level of involvement.

Our household shifted from stay-at-home honey calmly managing our casa to me fumbling around praying for a tag or something pointing me in the right direction of the front/back of the crap-catcher. Perhaps 1 in 4 diapers were bolted on incorrectly, which likely explains the frequent hot messes. I quickly discovered that wet wipes, not dogs, are a man's best friend.

Early days were a mad hustle combo'd with fear that I'd mess something up. What the heck and when and how much was I supposed to feed this hungry beast as she molted from baby into toddler? Would grilled ribeye and garlic taters fly for a 2-year-old? I was alone, my family was mute. Thanks Google, you got my back.

Lined up daycare (boo!) and doc appointments to inject booster shots. Quietly consoled Pigtails when she roamed the house confused, asking "Mommy, where's mom?" Tried to ignore gawking neighbors as my toddler wailed while strapping her to stroller and parking it on the porch so I could mow the grass.

Grinding a full time job, maintaining a home six decades deep in rust and keeping my kid cooing left little time to dwell on what this all meant. Which was probably a good thing. Although there were those occasional quiet, still nights where it all oozed in and burned.

Oh yeah, one more thing...tossing the tot a live vacuum does the trick of keeping 'er quiet and the floors clean. Win.




If you'd like to read more about the plunge, Double Down's your ticket. I'll shut my hole so Cari can tap the keys.
4-1=Family
There are not many people in this world who willingly choose the life of a single parent {plate of crazy if you do}. Sometimes the transition is long and slow leaving you a Single Parent mid-life. Or in my case, it sneaks in and life changes in the blink of an eye, and when I say blink, I mean overnight. My sweet title of stay-at-home-Mommy had been reluctantly revoked and the term Single Mom, was being chiseled into my very being fast and furiously.
Only just the night before I was most concerned with my children’s emotional well-being, cherishing my job as primary hugger and boo-boo kisser, book reader, bath giver, chauffeur, and caring for my household. Those things still remain, and still are my most cherished. Now the responsibilities for caring for my children’s basic needs fell to me as well. How would I provide for them? Where would we live? How am I going to do this all by myself?

I’m a pretty stubborn chick, and wasn’t about to let Ex or fear get the best of me. I would not settle for less therapy for my Autistic son, which meant working a lower paying job to gain flexibility to work around his sessions. And every time a roadblock appeared without warning to crush my perfect plans, God answered my prayers and I found a new way. God answers prayers in the form of dear friends, family and co-workers who won’t listen to you when you say, “I don’t need any help”. Thank God they didn’t listen to me.
The single parenting gig wasn’t in the plan, but it is my reality. Daycare wasn’t supposed to be raising my kids for hours a day, I was never going to live with my parents ever again {really!!}, I was never going to have the “why doesn’t Daddy live with us” talk. I was also suppose to have a partner to bounce ideas off of {I talk to myself a lot} and have someone to grow old with and spoil our Grandbabies with.
Indoctrination into Single Parenting is a tough and lonely road. So far it hasn’t gotten any easier, I’m sure it never will. You develop thick skin, and continually one-up your exhaustion level. Parenting alone can make you guarded and doubtful. Don’t let it.
Guess I should thank the little people; my two precious gifts. Really, I’m the lucky one. I get all the hugs, all the kisses; I get to see all the “firsts” and don’t have to hear what I missed. Hard as it may be, the rewards outweigh the trials. But anything rewarding or amazing in life will always be hard; that’s what makes it worth it.

Thanks to Beard for Co-Posting with me!
{Beard is going to answer questions/comments on the comment form with me, so let us know what you think!}

10 comments:

  1. You are both amazingly awesome. Really enjoyed both perspectives in the post. Pleasure to meet you Beard, and Cari as usual...keep on rockin ;)

    Btw...Cari, stop drinking so you can get Beard to go to the Mn Blogging Conf with us.

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  2. Great idea for a series sharing the plunge from two different angles. So balanced! It's hard not being guarded and doubtful. I work on that daily, still. 18 years into it! I can't imagine how it must be to not only be a single parent, all of a sudden, but the adjustment of losing your other half when there was a future in the making, in progress, on top of it. I've been single since day one. So it's all I've ever known. Reading your posts, we are the lucky ones, with our babes! I don't know many single fathers. Beard, I remember those times of being too overwhelmed to worry about what next. Thanks for sharing. Cari and Beard you complement each other nicely.

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  3. Oh my... I have been laughing and crying reading Beard's blog. You both are amazing parents.

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  4. Fantastic idea. Loved reading the first installment. I admire you both. So very much. The love you have for your kid(s) hopped out of my screen and gave me a huge hug. I'm not even kidding.

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  5. Thanks ladies! I wonder if they'll have booze at the conference? Doubtful...probably for the best!

    Each one of you is an amazing parent as well! Thanks for the kind words!

    Christina, I think Beard lives in Alaska or some kind of man cave with internet access. Not certain. He does have a darn good blog though!

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  6. Thanks for the support, looks like Cari has the best followers. And I appreciate Cari letting me share over on her blog, hopefully I don't scare her readers away!

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  7. @Beard- you couldn't be more right about baby wipes being man's best friend :). I still couldn't fathom how moms can leave their kids just like that. You are doing a great job raising Pigtails. She's getting cuter by the minute.

    @Cari- Yup, my skin is beginning to get thick too from all this single parenting. It does toughen us up, doesn't it? You're lucky you have your wit and humor to see you through. I am up on my toes for the next installment to this series...

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  8. Thanks Pepper! We are going to need to do some crazy exfoliation! If I couldn't joke about it, it would drive me to drink!

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  9. What a great post and perspective from both sides. It is trued that sometimes we don't think about the single dads out there and they may in fact have it harder at times then we do as single moms. I know exactly what you mean. It was never in the "plan" to have daycare raise my daughter or have the talks about why doesn't daddy live here.

    Now following and looking forward to reading more!
    Found you on the single mom group on bloggy moms. hopefully you will stop by and follow back!

    Have a wonderful week!!!

    http://singlemominspiration.blogspot.com/

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  10. Thanks for reading and following Jenelle! True, Dads are pushed aside quite often, and it seems they don't have much of a voice in the Single Parenting world.

    I am not on Bloggy Moms nearly enough, if I could remember my password...that would be a good start.

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Let me know what you think by posting a comment or sending me an email, bubblegumonmyshoe@yahoo.com. I promise not to stalk you if you do!