Is it my imagination or is parenting easier for men than it is for women? Single parenting in particular?
I read my fair share of single dad blogs and even know a few in person and, well, they make parenting seem easy. For them, it appears to be this wonderful stress free way of life. I don't hear them talking about desiring just a few minutes of peace, being bombarded with a continuous performance of Mamma Mia, or even craving a weekend away. I am not sure that it is a single dad thing or a dad thing in general?
Is it just that men don't talk about it? Is it that they keep it all to themselves?
Perhaps it is just that they don't stress about it? They see each task that needs to be accomplished and, well, they do it without too much concern for the little details?
Perhaps it could be that men know how to "relax" where women often don't. Where women need to be busy doing things and have a list of things that need to be done, men find time to watch football, play soccer, hit the gym, etc. Where women teach their kids to stress and multi task, men teach their kids to relax and find time to just be.
I find myself wanting to ask some of these single dads (and you may know who you are) how do you do it? Isn't there any stress in your life? Aren't there days when you just want to lock the bathroom door and let "Calgon" take you away? (If there are, they don't share them)
I am familiar with the "How do you do it?" question. It is one that gives me pause, "do it? I do it because I don't know what it is not to do it. It happens because it has to happen; there isn't a choice."
My life, like most parents, is a well written piece of music. Each note has its place, each chord must be played at the right time. There are rests and repeats; there are highs and lows; and there are changes in tempo and volume. I am a mere associate conductor who attempts to interpret the sheet music at any given moment, leading the orchestra to play as well as possible. There are sometimes sour notes - the sounds that send shivers up the spine and the mouth into a pinched grimace. But there are lines of perfection as well; when the music floats, lifts, and soars into the heavens with pure grace and beauty.
And I am happy to share both. I admit my mistakes when it comes to parenting as there are many. There are things that I could do better and am working to refine. There are times when I'm lacking in my parental patience. I admit these realities with the knowledge that they are the truth and that I see them and am learning from them.
I am less likely to admit the moments of pure delight; when life is as perfect as it can be. Not because those moments don't happen, as they do - probably more often than I realize. I don't admit them as easily because they are whole moments - the moments that are optimal; the moments that leave me believing in miracles and that I am not such a horrific parent after all.
I love my daughter with all my heart and yet... I think that I am a better parent to her when I have time to myself now and again. When I can escape into bubbles and music and think. When I can walk the beach and feel the sand beneath my toes and hear only the waves and the gulls.
But I don't hear men talk about the sour notes. I hear them mention the moments of pride - the moments when their children succeed. But what about the other moments?
I don't know a mother alive who has not wanted to lock herself in the bathroom, by herself, if only for five minutes. It isn't a weakness at all; it is a reality. But do men know that feeling?