The “Single” Mom Dilemma, Wherein a Choice Must Be Made

Let me be upfront in this post by being very clear: I am not a single mom.  I have never been a single mom, and I hope and pray every day of my life that I never have to become a single mom.  I have the utmost respect for single mothers, and wish I had but a fraction of the tenacity these mothers have. I simultaneously pity and worship my single mother friends.

However, that being said, half of the time when I am caring for my daughter, I do feel a bit like a single mom.  You see my husband is a law enforcement officer who works nights.  His shift causes him to leave me and my daughter at 7pm for half of the nights of the week, not to return until the next morning.  On those work nights, care for my daughter is 100% up to me.  All feeding, all playing, all bathtimes, all bedtimes, all middle-of-the-night crying fits…all me.  When my daughter was a little tiny baby, this situation often led me to tears.  A terribly, sleep deprived mother, woken every hour by an infant, with no one else to rely on. Now that she is a toddler, this whole process is much easier, and most nights I find myself alone with “Me Time” from about 8pm on…all in all, not a bad situation.

As I was reading my daughter her bedtime story last night, the thought popped in my head, “What if I DID have another child right now?”  That child would be just a baby, most likely. Without my husband to assist me, I would be forced to make difficult choices between my children. Would I not be able to give my daughter her nightly ritual of bath-book-snuggle-bed?  Where would I put the baby? Lay her down on the floor next to us?  Place her in a crib and hope she stays quiet as I dedicate time to my eldest?  Or perhaps tell my eldest daughter, “Sorry kid.  The new kid in the house outranks you in need. Put yourself to bed alone.”

As far as difficult choices make, the nightime ritual is a fairly minor choice.  But these choices one must make only echo larger and larger as the children age, forcing all parents of multiples to make difficult choices between their children.   I suppose all parents of multiple children adapt, and their children adapt.

But am I selfish in not wanting to HAVE to make a choice?

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8 Comments

  1. Jessica said,

    October 8, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I have the same questions myself. That’s why I’m sticking with having any only. I don’t know how it works when you have to divide your time between a toddler/preschooler and an infant and I really don’t want to know! I’m guessing that if I really wanted another child, I wouldn’t have these feelings. So, we’re in the same camp! BTW, I’m labdogs42 from the Big Tent!

  2. Jennifer Yarter said,

    October 8, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Welcome Labdogs/Jessica! I agree about your thought about not having these feelings if you really wanted another child. Honestly, I think if, as a parent, you are having these doubts, then by all means DON’T have a second child. You can always change your mind about that later, but if you end up getting pregnant now with doubts in your head…well, as the movie JUNO puts it:

    That ain’t no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can’t be un-did, Homeskillet.

  3. Lisa Kennedy said,

    October 8, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    EXACTLY why I only have one and will only be having one. I personally know and accept my limits on what I can accomplish in a single day and I know that ONE is my limit as well as my husband’s limit. I think if more women/men actually ACCEPTED their limits they might be a lot happier. I understood a long time ago that the phrase “having it all” was not in fact, based in reality. There is no such thing as “doing or having it all” everything comes with a price tag: whether that be actual money or your time or your relationships. There are so many hours in a day (however much we wish otherwise) there are only so many minutes you can devote to people and their care and so much money to do it all with. “Hoping” that it’ll just work itself all out or “let the chips fall where they may” is how some people choose to live and that’s fine, I just think if more people were based in “reality” and what’s really going to happen their lives might be easier. I’m definately not saying you can’t have multiple children, work full time, take care of a home and have a husband but really, something is going to get short changed: there is just no physical way you can give 100% to multiple kids, your house, your boss and your spouse, not going to happen. I accept that and know that ONE is the number that fits into what I can do sanely in a normal day!

  4. Jason said,

    October 9, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    I had a lot more typed in, but I decided to focus on this instead since I’m a male, and as I’ve lately found, there doesn’t appear to be much that’s harder than a male trying to have an equal and reasoned discussion with women about children if he even APPEARS to disagree in the slightest 😉 Which I don’t; nothing wrong with wanting one, none, or several kids. To each their own.

    So, the only reason I’m still even here commenting is because you used the word “multiples” to refer to having more than one child, and that’s not really appropriate. “Multiples” is a term used for parents of twins/triplets/etc. A bit of a pedantic nitpick, I know, but since that’s going to happen any day now, it hits close to home 😉 Do what Lisa did and refer to them as multiple children/single child (just like “singleton” is use when a single child is born at a time, and isn’t used for a solitary child in a family).

  5. Jason said,

    October 9, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Ugh, grammar hard. Multiples should refer to the kids themselves, not the parents.

  6. Jennifer Yarter said,

    October 9, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Hmmm…if “multiples” refers to those who are twins/triplets/etc, what is the correct terminology? Lisa’s multiple children/single child?

    I shall take your suggestion to heart, Jason. And fear not in putting in the other stuff you typed in. I really want this to be an open discussion forum. In no way do I want to imply that families with multiple children are bad; rather I want to help remove the apparent societal bias many of us families with single children experience on a regular basis.

    ALL family choices are good, just as long as they make sense for you and your family!

  7. Jason said,

    October 9, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Full disclosure: we intended on a single child first to see how it went 😛 Life had other ideas, I suppose.

  8. Jenn said,

    October 19, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Heyyyy….

    Welome to my life. As you oh-so-obviously know, I’m a single mother of 2 very awesome kids. I’m not gonna touch on the single parent part- I just wanted to touch on the whole priority part.

    Its really not about one kid being more important. Its all about time management. I give Jas her bath first and put her to bed earlier, so that I can do my normal nightly routine with Rams. Now that I have 2, 5 isn’t anything different. Its all about managing your time to make sure each kid gets enough one-on-one.

    I’m driving so I can’t write more, but that’s the gist of it. Its frustrating at times, but its worth it and I still want more.


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