Parenting Solo

Ive been steering the Burgess ship solo for 11 days now (4 more to go and counting). My husband is schlepping around Germany and Holland as chief guitarist for the brilliant Holly Golightly and her band. He toured a lot before we had kids and has done a handful of times since. Obviously, it’s a whole different experience when he’s away nowadays and over the past 10 days I have developed a heightened level of respect for those who do the whole parenting thing on their own, all or most of the time.

This isn’t a whinge post by the way! I’m not complaining about my kids – they are truly awesome – obvs. One thing that has happened whilst Daddy has been away, is that my girls and I have become a little closer (if that is even possible). They both sobbed heavily when we had to say goodbye at the train station and at ages 4 and 6, the tears were very real and heartfelt. It was difficult for all of us. I had to bring them both home in tatters and my husband did the first leg of his journey afflicted by acute nausea. I felt so bad for their puffy little, red, tear streaked faces and I just wanted to join in with the sobbing and hiccuping but I didn’t. (I did a bit). We had cuddles and chocolate to help us calm down and then I gave them a rhetorical pep talk of heroic proportions. We were going to be strong, we were going to be brave, we were going to get through this together, we were going to talk to daddy every day on the phone, we were going to track his journey on a map, we were going to schedule in lots of fun stuff. We could do this!! Now we will shape up and get a grip!!

Then I put the telly on.

But there has been a sense of us all battening down the emotional hatches and getting through together. They’ve been brilliant – helpful, co-operative and well behaved. There has been a real team spirit amongst us and it’s been awesome. That’s not to say that they haven’t had their wobbles – The eldest’s teacher caught me after school one day last week to say that Daisy had spent the morning very upset and glued to her teacher’s leg. (gosh, that must have been annoying) and that she had explained about Daddy being away for 2 weeks and that  ‘I just have a lot going on in my head right now’… Silly/bad mummy hadn’t thought to mention it to school!
I also found the youngest quietly stroking Daddy’s face on a family photograph whilst silent tears rolled down her cheeks. She looked up at me and said, through a bubble of snot and spit, that she ‘will always remember Daddy when I look at this picture.’

I know. It’s too much to bear.

This post is not intended to make my husband feel guilty either! (It is a bit) I don’t feel a whisker of resentment at his going off for 2 weeks to play music, drink beer and have a laugh every night. (I do a bit). But it really IS ok with me. When he’s at home (the other 50 weeks of the year..) our family always comes first, he works his arse off (and there is a lot of pressure as he is the main breadwinner – no mean feat in this day and age!) plus his Dad-skills are epic too – clearly evidenced by the wailing our children did at his departure… We are his main concern and everything he does revolves around making our family as happy and as comfortable as he can.

As we all know, time to indulge in our creative passions (not those ones!) gets drastically cut once you have children (actually, yes those ones too) and for both of us, carving out time to do the things we love becomes an art in itself. So an opportunity to join Holly Golightly on her tour to promote her latest album, which he recorded on, was never going to be turned down. Even if the dates did coincide with……………………… wait for it………………………………………………

Our first wedding anniversary.

NOOOOOOOO!!!!

Yup.

I think I might be THE most understanding wife that ever there was. Go me.

*Only people who are in relationships with musicians will understand why this is okay. And why it HAS to be okay.

*Also, this does mean that I have earned a shed load of ‘credits’ which I can use to my advantage for days off, lie ins, weekend spa breaks, yoga retreats etc. I’ve got a little list..

Anyway! Let’s return to the point of the post.. The relentlessness of single parenting.
Even if you’re the one who tends to do the majority of the ‘child care’ on a day to day basis as I am, when you find yourself without the other adult in the house to share the load with, there is a gaping chasm that feels simultaneously horridly hollow and yet, full to the brim with responsibility. Everything is down to you. Everything. It is only when that other person is not there that you truly realise how much they contribute when they are. Even the small things are a massive contribution to the general running and order of things. Take the dinner/bath/bed routine for example;

Dinner is finished and bath time begins. No one is clearing up and washing the dishes whilst you run the bath and wrestle the children out of their clothes.
Bath time finishes and bedtime begins. No one is emptying the toys out of the bath and hanging up the towels and loading up the toothbrushes whilst you wrestle the children in to their pyjama’s and help them choose storybooks. Bedtime is done and no one is transferring laundry from the washing machine to the tumble dryer, pouring you a large glass of wine and getting netflix set up, whilst you lie patiently with each of your children for as long as they need you, before you give them one last kiss and leave the room with a whisper of ‘love you lots’ as their eyes close with pre-slumber heaviness. No one is there to take it in turns to run up and down the stairs four times to two suddenly wide awake children who are now demanding drinks, a wee, a lullaby CD, more cuddles and possibly even a slice of bread because it’s been an hour and a half since dinner and their tummies are rumbling.

Needless to say, it’s a bit of a mission trying to do it all. By the time I’ve run around doing all of the above it’s 10 o’clock and I’m done in. Forget the wine, forget netflix, forget writing, ‘blogmin’ or even a cuppa! Basically forget any ‘me time’…

Now,

Let’s throw in to the mix possibly the most stressful week of work I’ve ever had since I started my business 16 months ago. And when I say stressful, I mean panic attack stressful, I mean lying awake every night for three nights in a freezing cold fit of anxiety stressful, I mean having the vision in one eye go squiffy half way through bathing the children one evening. THAT kind of stressful.

Let’s also throw in to the mix a poorly daughter who wakes every night for three nights with a honking croup cough that scares the living shits out of me.

Let’s throw in, the realisation on a Sunday evening as I’m putting my whimpering, feverish daughter to bed, that I have run out of Nurofen for her and the Calpol has not reduced her temperature one jot. After making a few phone calls to friends and family who are unfortunately unable to assist with obtaining and delivering Nurofen to me, I make the decision to get both girls out of bed, put them in the car and drive to the shop, which did not have any nurofen, then driving to another shop a bit further away before going home to administer the medicine and do the whole bedtime thing all over again.

Let’s throw in a little holiday for the car, to the garage, because it keeps losing power when I drive up the hill to school.

And let’s, for good measure, make sure that I leave the hazard lights on for 4 hours so that the battery runs completely flat and so that I have to call out the RAC at 11pm on bank holiday Monday to re-charge it so I can do the school run in the morning. This involved leaving the car running for 50 minutes on the driveway in order to charge it up as much as possible. I set an alarm on my phone in case I fell asleep then sat and watched it out of the living room window, paranoid that someone would drive off in it.

For every one of these incidents I just felt like screaming ‘I can’t do this on my own!!!!’

But any and all of these things could have happened and do happen, when my husband is at home but we just deal with it, life’s little challenges that we just sort out together. When there is two of you, they are insignificant but when literally EVERYTHING is down to one of you, it’s super hard. I have total respect for anyone who has to do parenting solo. It really is quite a different animal. You have to be super organised, cupboards stocked and life planned to the last detail. There is no room for error or forgetfulness (my forte), no room for anxiety (my specialism) and no room for needing to nip out for supplies late at night. Imagine if i’d have run out of wine!?? Awful.

Let’s not forget the emotional support that comes from being a two pronged team, which is perhaps more significant than the practical advantages.

So I do hope my darling husband of one year (and boyfriend of 20 years) is having the time of his life, truly, because I wouldn’t want this 2 week marathon of shit-wading to have all been in vain. (Tone of this last sentence: lighthearted and Jovial. Just to be clear..)

Bradley has expressed concern that this post might make him come across as a total arse, so I have agreed to add that he has done his best to make up for his absence on our first anniversary by booking a romantic weekend away later in the month. Plus he did leave a surprise anniversary card tucked in our wedding photo album. Then there was this moment when Holly Golightly dedicated the song ‘Your Love is Mine’ to us onstage in Berlin on our anniversary.

I nearly choked on my cornflakes when I saw it the following morning. It was just the ticket. (Although, I have to agree with Holly – he should’ve said…)

But I’m lucky of course, two weeks really is a short amount of time (on the parenting calendar it’s a fudging AGE) and a husband going on tour isn’t as distressing as say, a husband going off to war (actually it’s worse, he’ll be having fun and there are groupies).

Now we are nearing my husband’s return and I’m just starting to feel like I’ve got a handle on things – I remembered to put the bins out this evening and I’ve resuscitated the plants in the greenhouse (turns out you have to give them water sometimes). The children have moved on (Daddy who?) and I’m self medicating the dregs of my anxiety by working my way through the wine rack.

Huzzah! It’s all under control.

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30 thoughts on “Parenting Solo

  1. Louise! I loved this post – it’s so similar to my lifestyle too! Hubby is a film director (lots of people assume with the amount of time he is away that he’s in the forces, nope, total respect for the military wives. I am a ‘media’ wife) he has been avoiding going away for a year now, taking local-ish jobs until now when an awesome opportunity came up. Now away for the next 3 months with the odd week off. I had the same concealed melt down at the airport and little one had eyes full of tears (the baby didn’t care, just wanted her milk). Luckily I went straight to my mums to fetch and replace daddy with “giant teddy” who has been staying with us ever since (he is gigantic and a hideous orange colour I bought him as a child from a car boot sale for a pound) I always find the first 2 weeks are worse then it gets easy somehow. Even if you just do 2 weeks or 1 week solo it’s just as hard. Typical about your car, work stress and poorly kids! My car only seems to be in garage when G is away! well done for being super mummy and running your own business!!! Oh and for writing this post after all of that too. Tilly x

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    1. Thanks Tilly! Wow, 3 months, that is a long time alone in parenting land. Huge respect to you. He’s actually due back in the next half an hour! I’m going to try and be cool and serene but I might just fall in a heap at his feet and weep. Thanks for your lovely response. Good luck! X
      P.s – Thank god for blogging eh?!

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  2. Great post – I’ve been a single parent in the past so know all too well how difficult it can be. Sounds like you’ve managed perfectly though, enjoy your husbands return!! And can I just say you look AH MAZING in that white dress!! #friYAY

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  3. This did make me laugh-especially the bits about stroking the photo, and putting the telly on. Is that bad? Sounds like you’re coping with it all very well! #StayClassy

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  4. Wow, talk about supermum! Also the most understanding wife ever!
    I totally agree that although I do most of the childcaring/parenting myself I still stress when I’m home alone for too long, just having them in the house is reassuring…even if mine does leave his pants on the bathroom floor ha #dreamteam

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  5. I just discovered your blog via #dreamteam. I hope you survive the last few days, and get to cash in your credits. I am a total wuss about solo parenting, and i only have one daughter! My husband went away a few weekends ago, and I feel like I’m still recovering. Nice to connect, and I look forward to reading more of your posts 🙂

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  6. Sounds like you’ve had a full-on week. Things will get better soon. The kids will be so obsessed with daddy being home, you can sneak a couple of glasses of wine in a quiet place.

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  7. Love this! I really have so much respect for single parents and people whose partners travel, I don’t think I’d cope well at all! Even when you feel like you are doing everything when you think about it they still do loads!

    Love the dedication and hope you cash in some favours!! #passthesauce

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  8. Dude I love your blog. : ) haha Your posts always make me laugh. I felt like you really set the scene waving your husband off and your two girls wailing away with red, puffy eyes, the one stroking a frame….hahah He sounds like a wonderful Dad. Totally agree being a single parent would be SO tough. I have had one day and one night alone so far and it was hell. It actually made me respect my Mom so much more as I never really realised how much she actually was doing as a single working Mom WHEW! Thanks for sharing with #StayClassy!

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    1. Thank you so much! It’s hard isn’t it?! I’m so glad people seem to agree. Total respect for anyone doing it alone for whatever reason, even as a positive choice, purely because of the sense of responsibility – I find it overwhelming when I’m on my own. Thanks for your kind comment! xx

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  9. Fantastic post! I think you and all the Mamas that have to manage any of this stuff alone, even for just a short amount of time, are just awesome! I was having a panic attack just reading about your nightmare car issues etc and thinking how the fudge would I deal with that?? I’m not sure I’d have even left the house? And to think I get stroppy if the hubby has a night out and I have to do the bath routine alone?? Tsk Tsk. (Not really stroppy – just like “he’d better bring me some bloody cake” stroppy 😉 ) Hope you enjoy your well deserved weekend away.
    Dawn x
    #dreamteam

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  10. I really enjoyed reading this post. I didn’t really realise how much I relied on my partner till he was away and you are right, it’s the small things. I miss being able to just have a chat just before we go to bed, or to wallow in self pity together LOL… Thanks for sharing with #PasstheSauce…It has been amazing to have that song dedication!! Thanks for sharing with #PasstheSauce

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  11. OMG woman that train station farewell had me in tatters! Two weeks is an age in any terms especially parenting! I’ve done one night alone and barely survived intact! Sounds like he has made up for it, I hope he gets paid a lot too 😉 This sounds so much more exciting though than my hubby driving to his office and sending me a picture of him eating a salad… rock and or roll….. lovely post as always and thanks for linking up! #friyaylinky xx

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  12. Goodness, you must be a supermum! How do you manage all this on your own… how does anyone actually? Hats off to you and for encouraging the Mr to follow his creative dreams. Thank you for linking up to #DreamTeam

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  13. My husband worked out of town for 3 years. He came home once a month. I myself got used to it very quickly because I had no choice and had 5 kids to tend to while keeping my shit together. The kids on the other hand missed him as soon as they would see him loading the car to leave. I feel your pain and happy to hear it’s only 2 weeks for you. But he owes you big time with the one year anniversary thing! Thank you for linking up with #momsterslink and I do apologize for my absolute delay in commenting as I have been a busy girl and had to put down the blogging for a moment. But I do hope you will join me this Thursday for my linky return!

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