Sunday, February 25, 2018

After-the-Fact Empathy

My dad was a pilot in the Air Force, so when I was young he would occasionally have to be gone for weeks at a time on temporary duty. He went to Japan once, I remember, and once to Turkey.

I don't remember how old I was when he went to Turkey, but young enough that I told everyone my dad had gone to Chicken. To the everlasting amusement of my family.


In addition to that, we moved every three years--or more frequently--and he almost always went ahead of us to his new assignment to get a house set up for us. This meant that my mother was the sole parent for the last month or so of our time at our old house, and also that she often handled all the moving stuff and drove three little kids cross-country by herself.

I have no idea how the hell she did this.

Now that I'm a mother of small children myself, I can understand how incredibly difficult it is just to be the only parent at home, handling all of the meltdowns and the bedtimes and the book reading and the feeding and the other constant needsneedsneeds of kids. I can't imagine doing that and also packing up a house, dealing with emotional children leaving behind friends, and then driving long distances.*

I am thinking about all of this, of course, because A. has been gone for five days now. The MiL was here for part of that, but it's still been a long, long stretch of time alone with three children under six.

And so, from my older and wiser vantage point, I would now like to publicly acknowledge the fortitude of my mother--and all the mothers or fathers like her--who managed as a solo parent with some regularity. A round of applause and a salute with my (non-existent, because I'm too tired for alcohol) cocktail to her and them.

* In the days before portable DVD players, no less. We played a lot of Travel Battleship and checkers in the car. When we weren't fighting, that is.


tu mere said...

The thing is, when you don't have a choice anything is doable, right? If you had to, you'd be just as capable and flexible and fun for your family and especially your kids. But, hey, thanks for the big pat on the back. It all seems so long ago, which will be how you'll look at these difficult, sleep/quiet deprived times in your future.

Europafox said...

Hey Kristen - I've tagged you in a post! Hope you get chance to do it (I know how busy you are :)) Joanne x