Sunday, April 13, 2014

Love is a Battlefield (of flowers)-- my messy beautiful warrior life

All parenting is fraught with stress and worry. The categories of "difficult parenting" are truly endless. I know that I am in a very ideal situation compared to so many families out there! 

And yet....
There are those moments when I am brought to the brink of self-doubt, find myself choking on tears, and wondering why it must all be SO HARD.

We will all face many challenges on our parenting journeys... some of my own I have no way to for see, but others I know are waiting in the shadows....

One will be helping Angel navigate the world of being a child with obvious physical differences. 
One will be helping her figure out how being adopted fits into her view of the world and her own place in it.
One will be doing those things all. by. myself.

In adopting my daughter I entered single-parenthood differently than most do, in that I knew exactly what I was getting into and made the conscious choice to become a single parent, without experiencing any shock at finding myself in that situation, nor any sort of loss of a parenting partner. I count myself lucky for those reasons. 

But there have been a handful of times when I felt the weight of being a single parent. I have posted on Facebook about it a few times in the past, and have included those posts here because they were written in the very midst of those "how will I ever manage this" moments, and so they are better witnesses to that emotion than I can be right now, on an evening when things have run smoothly...

October 2012-- Angel was just over 2 years old
For the most part it really isn't that hard, but every now and then, being a single parent gets very heavy for a few minutes. Like the night when you are really tired, and are in pain because you stepped on the baby's toy on the hard wood floor, while carrying her, and your foot went right out from under you and you fell hard onto your knees and elbows trying your best not to crush the baby under you. And you were taking her to time out at the time, because she battled you when you would not let her wrap the toy's cord around her neck...but now you are so concerned with making sure she is okay from the fall, that time out doesn't happen. And she is fine, but you are bruised, so you limp your way through bath time, and then she wants to fight you while you are brushing her teeth (which she is usually really good about,) and you just want to say to your spouse "I've had it, you have got to do bedtime routine tonight." But you can't, because there is no one else. It is all you. And you can't just skip bedtime routine, because that wouldn't be fair to her, and she wouldn't understand why, so you manage to read one book instead of three, which still isn't fair to her, so you just come away feeling like a failure, and you turn off the light and hug her tight, and try to sing her songs for her, and you tell her over and over that you love her so very much, and in your mind you hope that she doesn't think your tears mean differently. (The tears that you managed to hold onto until the light was out, hoping to spare her, but for some reason she reached up to feel your face in the dark, which she never does, so now she knows.) That is when being a single parent is kind of hard

February 2014-- Angel is three and a half
You know those nights when you are stared in the face by the fact that you don't have a clue what you are doing... that you are definitely not qualified to build an actual person... that you are surely damaging this little package of beauty and light that God put into your hands, and that there is no ethics committee, no board of directors to make sure everything is being done right. It is on those nights that being a single parent is hard because there is not even one sounding board that is right there in the trenches with you to help you determine when to push and when to stop, when to excuse and when to insist, what is fair and what is harsh.... I was at some friends' home one night when their toddler melted down, and I watched one parent turn to the other and say "how do you want to play it?" And I thought "OH! THAT'S the thing my kid doesn't have! She doesn't get a second opinion." The hardest thing is knowing that I am all she's got, and that is far less than she deserves.

At times it is hard to juggle all the parenting responsibilities on my own, but for the most part I lament single parenting not for the trials I face, but for the cushion my child misses out on. There are many times when my capacity for patience and gentle guidance is maxed out and it would be best for my child to be handled by someone who has a few reserves left, but there is no pinch hitter at our house. My daughter gets left with the last dregs me. We just do the best we can, and I take my guilty anguish to my therapist, and some day my daughter can take her resentment over the exasperated parenting she received to her therapist (got to keep those people employed and off the streets after all.)

We are creating jobs over here people.

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!
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