Thunder Bay, Ont. writer Susan Goldberg is a transplanted Torontonian and one of two mothers to two boys. Follow along as she shares her family’s experiences.
I’m parenting solo this week, while Rachel takes some well-deserved time away. Just me, two kids, the cats, and all the responsibility: all the meals, all the bedtimes, all the laundry, all the cleaning, all the chauffeuring.
Does it sound like I’m complaining? Because I’m not, really. More just stating the facts. And in those facts lies the dirty little secret of (at least temporary) solo parenting: sometimes, it’s easier — sometimes, it’s downright more enjoyable — to be the only parent in charge.
If you’re nodding right now (you know who you are), you know what I mean. Things are just, well, simpler when there’s one parent. There are exponentially fewer relationships to negotiate. You don’t have to check in with your partner on every detail, confer about just how much time the kids get on the iPod and whether they are, in fact, allowed to have Freezies or watch a movie after dinner. The kids can’t play one of you off the other in an attempt to acquire more contraband treats. You can leave your own stuff out, where you want it, and the kids don’t care, even though your spouse might. You don’t have to have conversations about who’s picking up the kids, who’s making dinner, how to properly load the dishwasher. And you don’t have to be irritated about the fact that you picked up the kids yesterday, you made dinner yesterday, or that your partner always loads the dishwasher the wrong way. You just do it, your way, and nobody else bats an eye.
This week is also a chance for me to have a little bit of one-on-two time with Rowan and Isaac. They’re both at day camps, which means I don’t see a lot of them, but the mornings and evenings are pretty great. Even the early mornings: Isaac climbed into my bed at 4:30 a.m. today, for example. Normally, I would have booted him back to his own room because three in the bed is too many for me to sleep comfortably. But this morning there was plenty of room, so I let him stay. It was possibly a poor choice, because I couldn’t fall back asleep until about 5:30 a.m., when I moved to his abandoned bed, where I slept until 6:30, at which point Rowan found me and decided to join me for an all-elbows snuggle.
Read more: Co-sleeping with big kids >
Normally, the entire bed-hopping episode would have made me cranky, but something about being on my own with them makes me somehow more patient. I guess it’s a matter of practicality: if I lose my cool, I’ll be the one who suffers the consequences when my kids lose it right back at me. So I exercise more restraint, turning over and wrapping my arms around one wriggly small body or another and making the most of the time we have together.
Don’t get me wrong — I’ll be happy to see Rachel when she gets back. And when she does get back, I’m going to do my best to bring some of my single-parenting attitude into my regular, co-parenting life. I’ll even let her load the dishwasher any way she wants to.