I admire single parents. I really do. I think they are so much more then they ever get credit for! I'm not a single parent, but when my husband is traveling for work, I get to try it. It might be a day or two, or it might be a week or even three. Last week he was gone 8 days, it was busy. Really busy, and I wonder how those single parents manage All. The. Time. And with bigger kids there might be more help, but there is also more mess, more unpredictability, and more complicated matters to consider.
Then, there were my "out of the family - jobs", teaching french and parenting classes at night, doing photography during the day, preparing next (work) trip to Paris, and last, but absolutely not least: My writing. Which suffered a lot this past week. There simply was no creativity left for serious writing after walking to school with the youngest in the morning, picking him up a few hours later (by car if I needed to get some shopping done in the same outing), picking up after piano lessons, driving to and hanging out at ski practice with my youngest late at night, planning for, doing the shopping and preparing breakfasts, lunches, after-school snacks and dinners, helping with homework, talking with each child/teenager, solving problems, cleaning up everywhere and making sure the house looks a little less like a war zone... There were errands to be run, bills to pay, loads of snow to shovel in front of the house, and I shoveled until my arms ached.
There were two weekends to fill with something nice, like skiing trips, playing in the snow, board games, reading, computer games and wathcing the Olympics on TV. We made a lot of hot chocolate, waffles during these days, and we had pizza or burritos at night.
Some days I had extra kids at the table, some days there was one less, since my oldest also made a few travels. There were days where one child needed to bring hot chocolate and a sledge to school, and then one of the others was bringing skis, and I ended up driving her and her friend, since it got complicated to walk with their skis, backpacks and everything.
Every night there were heaps of soaked clothes/shoes which needed to be dried before the next day. With preparations for next day, I typically end up going to bed much too late, after checking and re-checking that candles are extinguished, doors are locked and cats out of the livingroom. Then, I'm the first to get up around 6AM, so that I can get ready and have breakfast on its way before waking the kids.
I tried to make time for a workout, and while my youngest spent a few hours at a friends house, I drove to the horse center afterwards, to pick up my 10-year-old and her other friend, drive past the friends' house to get some of her stuff, and bring them both back to our house for the evening. That particular night, my 14-year-old cooked dinner, my 17-year-old went to get the 6-year-old from his friend's house, and then, after bathing/showering and teeth brushing, I sat down and read for the two youngest, as I usually do, candles on the coffee table, cats sleeping next to us. Idyllic and wonderful.
I'm not complaining. Not at all. I'm very lucky, and I know it. This last week just make me realize - again - that single parents really are champions!