The day our first baby was born was meant to be my husband’s first day of work. He was fresh out of grad school, and our bundle of joy decided to make his debut 15 days early. (For which I will always adore him.)
The five years that followed were a blur of diaper blowouts and bonked heads for me (WHY do little boys climb so much?) and late nights in the office for my husband. Some seasons were lighter than others, but for the most part, he was gone a lot.
I distinctly remember my mom’s look of shock one night in the week after our second son’s birth, when she got up at 2am to take a turn with the baby and learned that Ryan wasn’t home from work yet. That was life for me at the time, even with a four-day-old baby in the house.
And after that came the travel.
But I don’t write to share my sob story; I write to share a change in perspective that took me years to arrive at.
I can’t tell you how many times I thought of myself as a single mom. I drafted wicked Facebook statuses in my head, slamming my husband’s employer for keeping him from seeing his children during the week…or for sending him to Texas for six…or for ruining Christmas.
Five days a week (or more, at times), I handled every temper tantrum, every time out. I fielded every question a toddler’s inquisitive mind could generate. I put on every sock and put away every errant toy. I was walking exhaustion.
It was rough being a single mom.
But then one day, after listening to me go on about how hard it was, he casually said—
“Yeah, but you don’t have to hold down a job.”
At the time, I brushed the difference off in my head.
Well, obviously, I thought. But I do everything else.
And at the time, it was true. I paid the bills. I took out the trash. I did all his laundry. Basically, I held down the fort for five years while he…worked.
And for five years I struggled to recognize how amazing that one thing was.
I never worried about when the next paycheck would come. I could take my children to well child appointments, because we had health insurance. I didn’t carry the weight of planning for our financial future.
A week ago we hired a babysitter midday on a Saturday so we could go climb a hill and sit. Something about sitting in dirt overlooking our city, our shoulders brushing, turned his mind to the future. I could see the wheels turning as I listened to him brainstorm career moves, talk real estate, and calculate how much we would need to retire at what age.
And I knew. I wasn’t a single mom. I may do some solo parenting, but I’ve never carried it alone.