An Ode to Single Parents

Veronica and I like to joke about how we are single parents most of the time. I work a swing shift, meaning I take care of Catarina from 8:30 a.m. until the babysitter shows up at 3:30 p.m. Veronica then takes over from 5:30 p.m. to bedtime and then is back on it at 5 a.m. when Catarina arises.

We each have our own tasks we do with Catarina – from playtime to bathtime to bedtime. It is a lot of solo parenting and at times it is extremely hard.

Catarina rocking her Grandma Robbie's hat on a hot day at the amusement park.
Catarina rocking her Grandma Robbie’s hat on a hot day at the amusement park.

Recently, though, I had the pleasure of taking care of Catarina solo – for four days and three nights. Veronica flew to Texas for a wedding and Catarina and I drove to Spokane to visit my parents. Earlier this summer Veronica flew alone to Texas with Catarina and wrote about it here.

The entire experience was completely humbling and gives me even more respect for the many solo parents in our society.

While my weekend was challenging at times and definitely exhausting, I had help and I wasn’t trying to juggle a job on top of taking care of my daughter.

The thing I noticed the most is that you have to rethink how you do everything when you are a single parent.

Eleanor, left, and Emmett, were huge helps for this single parent. Catarina would only play with the two of them, while ignoring all other adults.
Eleanor, left, and Emmett, were huge helps for this single parent. Catarina would only play with the two of them, while ignoring all other adults.

When we drove across the state and I had to go to the bathroom, I couldn’t just leave Catarina in the car at the rest stop – or take turns going if Veronica were with me – instead I had to haul her out of the car, bomb into the bathroom and go (to be honest, one time I just peed in a water bottle so I didn’t have to take her out, don’t tell my wife.)

The drive was pretty uneventful and I even resisted the urge to show her movies on the iPad. Instead, she stared out the window and we listened to a lot of Pearl Jam.

In Spokane, I had a lot of help in theory, as my parents, brother, his wife and their two kids were all present. They tried to take Catarina off my hands, but she is shy and unfriendly (reminds me of someone, frankly). The only person Catarina would allow to hold her besides me, was her cousin Eleanor – and thank goodness for Ellie, she was a huge help.

Papa Randy fought the battle of wills with a weeping Catarina, eventually convincing her to just hang out and drink her bottle.
Papa Randy fought the battle of wills with a weeping Catarina, eventually convincing her to just hang out and drink her bottle.

But when it came to feeding, changing and generally just chasing her everywhere to make sure she didn’t break anything or anyone, it was all me. I don’t say that to give myself a pat on the back – honestly, I was too tired to be giving out any pats.

The 5 a.m. wakeup calls took care of that.

Seriously, how do single parents ever get any sleep? I went to bed at 11 p.m. every night which is early for me and I was half dead by the third day.

Anyway, I was extremely thankful when Veronica flew in at the end of the fourth day. Our daughter started crying at 4 a.m. and this time I didn’t have to arise from the bed, instead I just rolled over and went back to sleep.

Catarina getting in some early practice on the croquet course.
Catarina getting in some early practice on the croquet course.

While Catarina and I had a lot of fun – went to the Silverwood amusement park, played in a wading pool, threw water balloons, ran around in circles in the yard, laughed a lot and more – I certainly enjoy my normal dual parenting style.

And I learned anything from the weekend it’s that the next time I meet a single parent, I’m going to volunteer to babysit or something – because I’m certain they could use a break.

– Craig Craker

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