Obviously, my version of single parenting is much different than what usually comes to mind. I don’t have to work an outside job (or two or three) because this is my job; I have a house and food and a car and living essentials taken care of by my organization. All I have to do is show up, which is pretty easy, considering I live here. But still. I parent two children by myself. I’m pretty sure I count as a single parent.
To back up, I’ve known about this change (from being one of four-five parents in a house with four-five kids) for a couple months. I requested it for one child in particular (one I’ve written about previously) because I didn’t want to see him deal with all the transitions of house parents leaving and new ones starting in the house. I felt he needed a more stable environment, and I felt I could provide it because we both started here around the same time and would be here for a while, most likely. Fortunately, the founders (now directors) of my organization are the most understanding and inspiring people I know, and they approved my request, despite the fact that they rarely let TWO people parent alone before they’ve finished their first year, let alone ONE. I could’ve kissed them. The other child in the house with the boy and me is an infant baby girl, currently 17 days old. Together, we make a cute little family, if I do say so myself.
Not that it always feels very cute from the inside. The boy didn’t just drop his negative behaviors the minute he stepped into his new Spiderman room. On our second full day as a single-parent household, he gagged himself to vomiting at the table just because he felt like it. He pooped in the bath tub twice the night before. Today, when he was outside with another house’s house parent for a volunteer event involving water (the baby girl can’t go outside, so I stayed in with her), he apparently said, ‘Fuck you!’ to a volunteer, probably because that volunteer was trying to share the water hose with the other kids.
And yet. Yesterday, with baby girl napping inside, I kept the back door open as he and I played right outside the door in the back yard. I was about to throw a ball to his bat when I mentioned the breeze blowing. He threw his bat down and said, ‘I want to feel the breeze,’ and lay down in the grass. I sat down next to him, and that’s what we did for a moment: we felt the breeze. This morning, we sat on the back door’s threshold and looked up at the half-moon in the sky and watched as a wisp of a cloud hid it and then revealed it again. Before he went outside for the water event, the other house’s parent mentioned how nice our new house was. My child yelled from his room, where I was trying to put on his swim trunks, ‘It’s so cute! I love it! I promise!’ Then he hugged me and said, ‘I love you.’ He had never done that before.
So we’re getting by, in our own way. We have already had and will have many rough patches. The baby cries and needs to be fed and sometimes keeps me up or refuses to be soothed in the way I want to soothe. It’s all very exhausting. But I’ve caught glimpses of how it could be, eventually. Or maybe just occasionally. Either way, they’ll keep me going. They’ll have to. I’m on my own now.