What I have learned from being a single parent for 7 months

My husband moved to Houston in November of last year to open his own practice.  I decided to move down later because it would make finding childcare easier at the end of the school year and it gave me time to prepare the house for selling and moving.  It also allowed my husband to focus his time and energy on building his practice.

Now that I have sold our home, moved out of our house and am ready to drive down to Houston with my two girls to join my husband, I am taking a moment to pause and think about what this experience has made me realize.

1.  Being a single parent sucks.

It is just exhausting.  After working a full time job, having to come home and take care of your kids is tiring (and this is with the help of nanny!).   Also, on the weekends, it becomes a full day job.  I enjoy doing fun things with my kids on the weekends, but it’s trying to get the laundry done, go grocery shopping and cleaning the house on top of watching the kids that becomes challenge.  I have a whole new level of respect for those who are single parents.

2.  I appreciate my husband so much more now.

I used to complain that I always did more than my husband.  Sometimes when we argued, I would say, “You never do anything around here!”  That would get him very angry.  Now that he is actually doing nothing in the house because he is not here, I realized how much he really did help me.

3.  Help a single parent out whenever you can.

I sold our outdoor basketball hoop to a woman who wanted it for her son’s birthday.  I had to take it apart (with the help of my father) for her.  When she came to pick it up, I found out that she was divorced and had a 7 year old son.  I could tell she wasn’t all that handy and asked her if she had anyone that might be able to help her put the hoop back together.  She was from Australia and had no family in the area and mentioned that one of her girl friends might have a few tools.  I felt bad for her because she didn’t have the kind of support that I had.  It made me conscious that there are single mothers out there that don’t have someone to fix things around the house for them, help them with their cars, watch their kids, etc.

4. Do everything you can to not be a single parent.

For me, this means making my marriage work.  I’ll admit, it’s been hard work and sometimes the grass may seem greener on the other side.  But ultimately, it is the best thing for my kids and provides them with a healthy balance by having two parents’ time to occupy.  I know this doesn’t always work for everyone else, but I will be right there until the end, fighting to make my marriage work.  Divorce is not an option for me.

Though this is not the first time my husband has been away (two Army deployments), this has been the longest and hardest, with the challenges of selling a house and moving thrown in there.  It has given me a new perspective on parenting and marriage and I hope never to have to do it again.

Teaching Kids the Value of Money – A Failed Experiment

One day, my daughter Katherine told me she wanted a Barbie doll.  (By the way, she already has seven, more than I had in my entire childhood…)

Well, you need money to buy that.

“How do I get money?”

You need a job.

“What’s a job?”

A job is something you do for someone and then someone gives you money for doing it.

“Can I have a job?”

I paused for moment.  I had flutters in my stomach thinking about how I could use this opportunity to teach Katherine the value of money and claim it is as one of my great achievements in parenting.  I had to quickly think of something she could do.  What could a five year old do to earn money?

If you put your pajamas away in the morning, I will give you a quarter.

She gave me a look.  “A quarter?  How about a dollar?”

I was taken aback.  Apparently, this child knew more about money than I had thought.  I started to do the math… a dollar a day, 30 dollars a month, 360 dollars a year?!?  Do you know how many hours of babysitting I had to do as a teenager to make that kind of money?

Why don’t we start with a quarter.

“Okay,”  she said with a bit of disappointment.

The next day I reminded her of her “job”.  She put her pajamas away and I gave her a quarter.  She seemed excited.  This continued for a few days and then Katherine lost interest and didn’t seem to care about the quarters she earned from her “job”.  Instead, she found it easier and more satisfying to take the quarters off my dresser than having to do some work.

Now, as Katherine shakes her piggy bank filled with quarters from around the house and proudly proclaims, “Look how much money I have!”,  I think about when the next opportunity might present itself and how I might be successful next time at accomplishing what I want.  Will she ever understand how hard her mommy and daddy have worked to allow those quarters to so easily slip into her hands?  I guess only time will tell…