Being a Single Parent? Don't Sign Me Up.

I'm tired. Running around keeping my two girls, 7 & 5, occupied, happy, fed, and disciplined is kicking my butt.

Italy, Greece? Blah.  Give me a
Denny's off the highway, any day.  
Not that I haven't done this before (although never for two weeks).  My wife has special opportunities in the school she works at.  As the theatre teacher, she's inherited a relationship with the Manhattan Theatre Company, and gets to go the NY City every other year and work on new plays and develop curriculum (she also drops a small fortune on "essential" Broadway plays).  She's also the Traveler's Club advisor, which means every few years kids fundraise to go see educational tours, like Japan, England, and currently Italy/Greece.

She took 11 kids this year.  A twelfth would've secured me as the second paid chaperone.  Alas, the 12th man in football is the crowd, the ever hopeful audience, and so it is that I am that cheering section for her. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.  But I'm happy for her.  She's having fun, and I'm...I'm watching the kids.

Which is why I'm exhausted.

They're older now, and easier in a lot of ways: I should be fine. The first time my wife left on holiday (as they say in England), one girl was barely out of diapers, and the other was earnestly filling them up. I learned a lot about myself during that week.  Things I don't like about myself.  If I had the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter back then, I would've seen myself chanting incantations to bring He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, back.  It was a literal $#!tty dark Goth period of my life.

Thankfully, I've stopped speaking Parseltongue, and my kids have stopped fussing like infants.  We've all transitioned into the whining stage. We are all emo kids, now.

They whine about the food I make them.  They whine about their bedtime being too early (even though it is nearly three hours later than their school year time).  They whine, even though they had 11 softball games in 7 days (what a joy it is carting kids all over town for hour long games).  I've taken them to movies (Monsters University), rented movies, taken them out to eat almost once a day, gone miniature golfing, traveled to the Oregon coast, gone to both grandparent's house multiple times, gone swimming, etc.  I'd venture to say we've spent less than 20% of our waking hours inside our house (and it's nicely air conditioned---sorry rest of America).  I'm a little flummoxed.

I really feel like we should give the girls a timeout for
this latest outburst, what do you think coach? 
And then I remember...we're out of sync. Dad, even on entertainment overload, can never replace Mom. No matter how hard I try, these kids aren't experiencing the life they know.  We, my wife and I, are a team. And when one of the coaches is gone, the kids don't know where the signals are coming from.  I, like the town-drunk Shooter (Dennis Hopper) in Hoosiers, don't know how to coach when the real coach (which for the sake of this analogy is Gene Hackman, but also my wife) is incapacitated.  I'm trying my best, but I need Gene Hackman.

But he's in Greece (or at least my wife is...I don't know where Mr. Hackman currently resides). {That analogy was really awkward, remind me not to write like that}.

The Greeks had a lot to say about love.  They had many words to define it, even a god who supplied it, Eros. I don't believe in éros love. You know, that passionate/romantic love that is essentially, eroticism or lust. I mean, I don't believe éros love lasts very long. It has it's time and place, and fades, like all passionate emotions, quickly.  It cannot be the cornerstone of a partnership, IMHO. Real love, or real marriages, I should say, are based on agape love, which is translated as divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful --love.  Wow, those are great words.

Active.  How many of us are active in our marriages? (Not sexually active: we could all use more of that).  Just active?  Actively keeping it alive, fresh?

So these last two weeks, I'm taking one for the team. Self-sacrificing (while complaining) with two discombobulated girls who are pushing their limits with dad. It's okay. I'm learning a lot about myself again, like: I don't know how to disinfect earring backings/mild infections and I hate coaching softball to 1st graders in 94° weather (who only care about getting under the shade and squirting water on their face).

Late at night, when my impish princesses are finally asleep,  I put on movies like The French
The old mountain of diapers in the backyard.  Don't worry,
I burned them all on Earth Day to lower my carbon footprint.
, or the Royal Tenebaums, because I need my Gene Hackman fix. I miss my wife. I need my wife.  Because I, I could never be a single parent. I don't know how anyone does it. It's exhausting, demanding, and unfair to everyone involved. I don't mean to demean any single moms, or (Han) solo dads, but this work, raising children is tough stuff.  Life is hard enough.  Raising kids on top of that?  

It doesn't necessarily take a village, like Hillary Clinton wrote, but merely a team, to raise a family.  And I need my Gene Hackman to come home.


  1. We may want to further explore your Gene Hackman fetish. I don't have kids, but I completely agree about love. Passion driven love/lust is about the feeling we get from the other person. It's about wanting it from them. Long lasting love is about what you can give to the other person.

    1. When I get a bad case of Hackmania, I just watch Welcome to Mooseport and Superman IV, and I'm suddenly cured!

  2. I love that you and your wife are a team! I mean, marriages are supposed to be that way, but I've seen some that just aren't. And you're right, I bet your girls can feel the unbalance now that one of the coaches is gone. I'm sure you're doing great on your own though. Your girls love you despite the constant whining. Have fun and don't go too crazy the rest of the time. :)

    1. I think somewhere deep down, they wanted to stay busy so as not to miss their mother. It worked for me as well.