Plain Gold Ring

Yes, I’m listening to Kimbra today.

Occasionally Robby is called away to conferences for work to learn more in-depth prosecutorial strategy or immigration law specifically. He is gone for several days at a time, leaving me in charge of the household.

During my first year or so of parenthood, I would remark that his trips left me to be a “single parent.” When I came out of my fog long enough to think that remark through, it became blatantly obvious I was mistaken, and I haven’t said it since. I know what I meant, you all know what I meant, but it’s just not the truth. Sure, I was alone caring for the kids by myself, but I am not a single parent.

While struggling to bathe both children and wrestle them into their pajamas, all the while thinking of the pile of crusty dishes I had to abandon to adhere to our already loose schedule, my partner was out in the world, providing for the roof over our heads, the water in our bath, and the food petrifying in our sink.

My husband is a public servant, which means he’s a lawyer for the government not Denny Crane, so it’s not as though we never have to worry about money, but that burden is shared between us, rather than being the sole responsibility of one parent. We “split the power” as my aunt and uncle say, and I worry about the kids’ doctor visits, meals, and laundry, while he goes to work every day to make sure we can afford those things. If I were a single parent, I’d be in charge of procuring the health insurance and also finding time outside my job to take my children to the appointments that insurance partially covers. I might be staying in a job without a future because changing careers would put our grocery bills at risk.

I feel for Kristin Cavallari, famous for Laguna Beach, a line of shoes, and being married to Jay Cutler. Her husband was traded to Miami from the Chicago Bears (if you don’t have some connection to E! News, I know nothing of your sporting career, sorry) and she hadn’t relocated with him yet, so she made a “joke” about being a single parent for the time being. I know what she meant, you all know what she meant. Let’s take a moment to appreciate how incredibly wrong she was, as the internet has already passed severe judgement on her faux-pas.

First, she has a lucrative career and so does her husband. Even if they got a divorce, she would be a single parent like Kourtney Kardashian is a single parent — traveling the world on a private jet with a slew of nannies in tow. I don’t know if she keeps a nanny day to day, but when her husband is training with the Dolphins, she can probably find someone to watch the kids while she gets a facial and a wax. This is not the life of a typical single mom.

When my husband comes home from a long day of work, he runs upstairs to change his clothes and then takes over Kid Control while I take a few minutes to pee in peace or wipe drool off my shirt and get dinner started. Single parents are a one-man show twenty-four hours a day. There is no one there to let you sit out one round of bath night after a day when one kid had the stomach flu and the other an endless stream of green boogers.

I won’t belittle the importance of the Village in any parent’s life, but without a live-in partner help from family and friends is indispensable. Those fleeting offers to help with the kids are the only respite these parents have to recharge and refocus their energy, and like most parents, ‘rest’ is misleading. How well can you unwind when the weight of the entire household is sitting on your shoulders alone?

So no, Kristin Cavallari, you are not a single parent when your NFL-employed husband is training in a new city. Your struggles are real and I see you, but that piece of jewelry on your finger means your burdens are shared with a partner who is doing his part to provide and lift your family. His trip to the beach does not equate to years of stress and strain being the sole provider and caretaker for your children day in and day out, filling the roles of Mom and Dad during every milestone and difficult phase.

Here’s to single parents — may we learn from their strength and absorb them into our villages so they feel cared for and lifted by a network of parents who know only a taste of what their lives entail.

 

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