jonathan just returned from teaching in india for two weeks and we're glad to have him safely home. however, i've got to admit that single parenting definitely has its advantages. while the days were long and often challenging, there is something to be said for just two people negotiating the day together rather than three. and, as we're henry's sole caregivers...meaning that we stagger our working schedules so that one of us is always with him (and, all three of us are often all together, for better or for worse!)...we're in constant negotiation. so, although we feel blessed to be doing it and wouldn't have it any other way, it can be very tricky and even the simplest tasks can become emotionally charged.
henry and i had some interesting times together over the course of the two weeks and we each grew and learned a lot in that time. my main insight was how psychologically draining it can be to be someone's 'one and only' (especially a toddler someone) and henry seemed to have a developmental leap around feelings...'sad' became a new word associated with any explanation of daddy's abscence...and a leap around expression in general, both verbal and nonverbal. so, thank goodness for skype for keeping our family connected during our daily conversations. with 12 and half hours seperating us, we gathered together...albeit on opposite sides of the day/clock...to say our 'good mornings' and our 'good nights', which provided a nice rhythm to the day and helped us all feel a little more grounded and connected as a family.
in the evenings after henry was asleep, although exhausted, i had some rare free time to myself to read, watch movies or just stare at the wall...which felt pretty luxurious...a spaciousness that, for whatever reason, doesn't generally present itself at the end of the day. maybe because when we're alone we view time and space differently than when we're negotiating the needs and/or feelings of another. regardless, the 'alone time' was good. one of the first movies i watched on the computer (we don't have a tv, the wisdom of which i started questioning seriously during those two weeks, but more on that later) was 'motherhood' with uma thurman, a perfectly light and silly look at the absurdities of parenting and especially the strange phenomena of 'super mommahood'. although the main character is not a single mother she, like many mommas i'm sure (myself included), either actually does it all...taking care of the cooking, the shopping, the planning, the kids, the dog, the car, the elderly neighbor lady, etc...or just feels as though it's all on her shoulders. and, laying there exhausted, watching...after just three long days alone with henry and many more to go...i could definitely relate.
the next movie i watched was 'no impact man'...also a movie about a couple raising a family in the city and the circus of challenges that ensue..which was a very different experience; less about one person shouldering all the responsibility and more about the choices we make around consumption and the legacy we want to leave our children. from diapers to take-out food to eating organically/locally and staying awake without caffiene (!), this movie really got me thinking about my own consumption and encouraged me to reinvigorate my commitment to remain mindful around the impact our family has on the planet. and, there was definitley a lot of negotiating going on between this couple, too...almost the most interesting piece of the story for me...but a bit more balance between them in their work of parenting. although it wasn't my intention, these movies were kind of fun to watch back-to-back and made a good double feature.
anyway, it's nice to be back together and negotiating our way through the days together again as a cohesive unit. which is not to say it isn't challenging...because it certainly is...but, raising a child takes a lot of energy and it's important to learn how to share this work skillfully. regardless, my hat is definitley off to all those single parents out there...whether on a full or part-time, temporary basis... and/or to everyone who sometimes feels like they're doing it all on their own. raising happy, healthy kids...solo or otherwise...on a happy, healthy planet is a lot of work but, i think, well worth the effort and energy.