Soon after Myrah turned one, I was faced with a situation I dreaded – James, my husband, had to go away on business travels for 10 days and I was left with the task of managing home, work and a one-year-old on my own. These were still Myrah’s initial days in daycare and she had not yet completely settled down. The week before he travelled, she got her first real illness – a fever that lasted 8 days. So I was pretty nervous when the time came for him to pack and leave and I was to be a single parent of sorts.
For those readers who are used to having extended family or domestic help at home, let me set the scene of what this entails. It means there is literally nobody to help you cook meals, watch the baby, clear the table, clean the mess from a one year old’s meal times, clean the kitchen, keep a tidy house, throw garbage and recycling, do grocery shopping, drop and pick up the baby from daycare, drive to and from work, put the baby to sleep, change her diapers, get her ready for the day, give her a bath, make sure she eats, rests, ensure she doesn’t get into trouble, is entertained well, attend phone calls, collect mail, make sure doors are locked at night, gas is filled in the car, clothes are washed, dried and folded and a 100 other things I am just not remembering now - and all these with a night of short, interrupted sleep . Does the list sound daunting enough?
As the ten days rolled by, it didn’t seem that daunting, thankfully. It was very hectic and a lot of work, but I survived pretty ok. Very little was out of the ordinary, which helped me to plan things ahead and not deal with unexpected situations or uncertainties. Also, I took the liberty of not doing certain things that could wait till I had an extra pair of hands around the house. My employer, who is always great when it comes to people issues, and my boss, who is probably the most understand boss ever, were of great support too. They let me work from home when I needed to, let me leave work early so I can be on time to pick up my daughter, and eased my burden by not adding extra work pressures on me. Yay, Maplesoft! Then there were good friends, with their promise of help when I needed it, a psychological boost knowing that there is always help to turn to.
Little victories gave me joy. Getting myself and the baby ready, dropping her in daycare and being in office well in time, after driving 100kms to work – perfect start to a day. Baby sleeps in the stroller through a grocery shopping hour - pure bliss! I even squeezed in a visit to get my eyebrows in shape, after the grocery shopping! So one day when I got stuck in a traffic jam and just couldn’t reach the day care in time to pick up my daughter, I didn’t panic. I called on a friend who very readily helped out and picked up Myrah in time. Stressful, but manageable. So overall, it didn’t seem too bad.
This is, in no way, to belittle what single parenting is actually all about. I faced only a fraction of it for 10 days, with the hope of the soon-approaching respite. But for those dads and moms who deal with it day in and day out, without a break, - and some of them with two or more kids, phew! - I can imagine their patience, endurance, courage and positive energy. Hats off to them for their perseverance.
I have a friend whose spouse travels very frequently and she once remarked, “I have got so used to it and have set a routine for myself and my baby, that when my husband is home, it is almost like a disruption of the routine.”
We all find ways of dealing with circumstances wherever life takes us. They may be rough, they may be daunting. But if we keep a positive attitude and resolve to make best use of it and keep the faith to persevere and keep going, we will get through tough life situations.