Monday, November 24, 2008

Question of the Week - Doing It All For My Baby

I'm back from Florida, and I had an excellent time. It's hard to believe that I was sitting on the beach just three days ago enjoying the sun, sand and surf. Now, I have to bundle in my thick coat, scarf and gloves to be outside. Sigh...

Not only was Florida beautiful and (mostly*) warm, but I got to spend a lot of bonding time with my daughter. A lot of time. My parents did help me out and give me quite a few breaks, but it's just not the same as having my partner with me to share the childcare. Don't get me wrong, my parents were really great. They were flexible, helpful, patient, fun and entertaining. But for the entire week, I gave her all her bottles, changed all her diapers, put her down for every nap and every bedtime, coslept with her every night (most nights from 11:30 on, and she tossed and turned and kicked and flailed all night), gave her every bath, fed her every meal and ensured her well-being and routine (as much as possible while on vacation). My super active toddler is a handful.

I knew the deal when I insisted I bring her with me even though Londo couldn't come and offered to keep her home with him to give me a real vacation from everything. I was prepared to take on all the childcare. I am not complaining. In fact, it was really neat to be the go-to parent for everything. We really did bond and have a great time together. I can even see the enjoyment of being a stay at home parent, because it is fun and really nice to spend so much time with the kiddo.

This week's question of the week is a two-parter because I didn't do one last week:

What is the hardest part to you of being the sole parent for a period of time? And what is your favorite part of being the sole parent for a period of time?

To me, the hardest part is--I'm trying to find the right words for this--the constant expenditure of energy. By that I mean that there is no long period of break, not even overnight. Especially overnight. I was so tired from the restless nights sleeping with my child who doesn't stop moving even at night that I took a nap on the couch when she napped and did not stay up late any night. This meant that I did not get any long period of time to just be by myself without her. Apparently, I'm more introverted than I suspected, because my energy was constantly drained without the time to recharge alone. Luckily, being in sunny Florida helped my energy a lot, and so did the naps.

My favorite part is the way she looks to me for everything she needs, whether it be a change in diaper (she will not sit or move when she poops in her diaper until she is changed) or comfort from a fall. Sure, she would ask for my parents and sometimes want them over me, but when it came down to a real need, it was "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy." And that was nice and sweet and a really great bonding experience. At least for the week, because if it continued longer... Well, see the previous paragraph about time to recharge. ;-)

How about you? Have you had to be the sole parent for a period of time? Love it? Hate it? Why?

*We did have a cold front for the first part of the week, where it did get down to 65 degrees and really very windy! Meanwhile, up in the DC area, it was in the low 30s and there were snow flurries. So I'm not complaining about the 65 degrees...

11 comments:

Becoming Mommy said...

Here's how it was for me:
The worst: Sasha felt the 'lack of parent' and then would be inconsolable. But there'd be nothing I could do about it and so, not only am I having to do what Hubby would normally take on, but I have the extra of a terribly upset child who can't understand why Daddy won't come home.
The best: um. Hm. Actually I can't think of one. Maybe it'd be different now, but I used to HATE it when I'd have to be the sole parent. It hasn't happened in a while.

I'm Not Skippy said...

Once a week my wife has class for her Master's. I do the whole evening ritual with him (feed him, bathe, him, etc.) and before then when he was really little I had whole days.

I love playing with him and letting him try new foods. Especially since he moved off the bottle he's more fun to feed (he's not waiting with that bottle after eating). We have lots of fun together.

I hate, and this is going to sound bad, how bored I get. It's hard to play with a baby. Lately it's better because he can do more, but playing with a little baby is like watching paint dry. When all you can do is shake a toy at him and say "boo" 50,000 times in a row. Like I said it's much better lately.

But our baby doesn't need help sleeping either. He goes down and stays down. That helps.

I'll have a couple days over the next month where I'll have full days with just the two of us (nothing like burning vacation days before the end of the year).

caramama said...

I'm Not Skippy - Oh, the boredom! I hear ya! Apparently, I'm not that into the baby stage because I just would get so bored when I was on maternity leave. However, now that she is a toddler and able to play and interact, it's a LOT more fun.

Becoming Mommy - You made me realize that there was a big difference between taking the Pumpkin on vacation without hubby and staying home with her when hubby is away. When he went away last September, it was much harder because she expected him to be there. Being on vacation, there was no expectation and it was all new and interesting things. It was much easier to be away.

OneTiredEma said...

I am the sole parent for 1-2 weeks a year (not consecutive), when the parent with a job goes to job-related conference thingies.

Hardest part is just never ever getting a break from the parenting. Not in the middle of the night (which is usually me, although if I wake Taxman up he'll take care of whatever it is), not a bath, not teeth brushing, not story time (he often takes the pre-bed story time if he gets home by 7:30). If I want to go to the gym I have to use babysitter time (when I am supposed to be working). No help in household chores; although I am largely responsible for them anyway, I have to do the ones I hate with a passion, like taking out the trash. That has nothing to do with parenting, just throwing that in :-)

The best part, selfishly, is that when the kids go to sleep I am DONE. I can go to bed at 9. I can watch tv for the entire evening without checking sports scores. I can really unplug from everything. Until someone wakes up and needs something (see above).

Trannyhead said...

BWAHAHAHA! Welcome to the single parent club - at least for a few days.

I, as you know, have been solo since my husband left for Iraq a year ago. So I have lots of experience.

I am thoroughly used to the constant expenditure of energy by now. It's automated and I don't even think about it. My favorite survival tip is that I nap WITH my kid almost every afternoon when he naps. Sure he kicks me in the spleen sometimes, but hell, it's the only way to get through the molars. I realize I won't be able to do that when Baby #2 comes along, anymore, and that's going to suck. But it sure is nice for now.

That being said, there are 2 hard parts to being alone. The first is the fact that I miss my spouse. Every time my kid does something for the first time (like take steps, say a new word, etc.) I wish my hubby were there to see it.

The other hard thing is when there is illness. The absolute WORST is then I'm sick. The second worst is when the baby is sick. There's just nothing like having to do the 24/7 while diseased.

Anyway, I'm glad you had fun!

paola said...

Well, I'm the sole parent 98% of the time with DD, and 80% with DS. Hubby's work keeps him away for most of my chilren's waking tme, and around 3-4 nights every fortnight, so I really can't count on him for much. Fortunatley, unless the kids are ill (or going thru a nasty developmental stage) nights are pretty much hastle free. The hardest part and the best part are the same thing, but viewed differently depending on the circumstances: they want only ME. Beautiful to be their 'only one', when they are happy and well (all those kisses and cuddles). Bloody awful, if it's in the middle of the night and they have just vomited (well to be honest, if daddy is home, he does do his fair share of the clean up).

Welcome back CM. Glad to hear you had a lovely holiday. Would love some of that warm weather here too.

Karen said...

We're so lax around here that when Sam is gone what little structure we had is out the window. I think that's the hardest part of being a single mom. But on the flip side, it's also the most fun. If I don't want to cook, I don't. If we want to snack our way through a meal, we do. It's fun, but not good.

sheSaid.purplehouseonpearl.com said...

I am home alone with the babe most days.... and I kinda hate most of it, but I can't seem to find a job....

Almost a year ago I was the only parent while heSaid when to Honduras for a volunteer project... the best part of that was how I was actually able to do it, even if it was hard, that felt good.

So the best part of being the parent all alone?
When it's just toddler and I, we do things at his pace. I just sorta wander around behind him, watching him enjoy the world and discover things, when heSaid is around we typically have more of a focus or things we have to do.

The worst part?
The exhaustion, sheer exhaustion of having to ENGAGE with him all of the time... I am an introvert and it really wears me out. Also? the MELTDOWNS, it's so much harder when I am the only one, the meltdowns are bigger and typically while trying to balance the toddler and open doors and carry groceries.

Sonia said...

During the first 1.5 years of my son's life, my husband was gone on business travel 90% of the time. Now we're separated so I'm still on my own several nights per week. For me, the worst part is when both DS and I are sick at the same time. One time when hubby was sent to Iraq for 2 months, I had a whopping sinus infection & DS had an teething-induced ear infection and I seriously thought the parenting thing was going to kill me. Esp. because DS is so high-energy that even when he sleeps badly at night, he's still bouncing around like crazy all day long! The introvert energy-drain issue is nearly as hard; even on a really good day, by the time I put DS to bed at night, I'm completely spent.

DS is definitely a daddy's boy, partly because he sees his dad so infrequently, so the best part (esp. during the 2 months that my husband was overseas) was feeling so close to my child and getting to know and understand him so thoroughly, and being the center of his world for a while.

caramama said...

K8 says: I'm a SAHM, so I'm with Little Girl all day, every day anyway. On the occasions when DH isn't home in the evening, the part I hate the most is sheerly not having someone else to take the clingy little squirmybutt for a few minutes so I can go do something that doesn't involve keeping track of her. Like... dishes. Or making dinner. Or taking a shower.

caramama says: After reading a lot of these comments, I'm feeling like I got off pretty easy with just a week and a few days here and there of doing it on my own. Yikes!

Shellie said...

My husband works an average of 60 hours a week and goes to school part time so I am often the sole parent of 5. That explains a lot about my insanity, doesn't it? I dislike the burnout and the impossibility of being 5 people at once, but I love the craziness and all the bonding that goes on. And I guess the challenge of enduring beyond my limits :)