Single Parenting Salute

I’m doing this internet Secret Santa thing and after some (minor) internet stalking, I think my giftee is a single dad. This makes me want to send him about three times as much stuff as I originally planned, plus an entire extra box of stuff just for his kid.

Because it’s tough. It’s so tough, I couldn’t comprehend how hard it was until recently. When you’re in it, you just do it. But watching my sister with her daughter, how busy she is, knowing Miss G was at least that busy at the same age and I was doing it solo-- I don’t understand how I got through it. How we both did. I remember people asking me at the time, “How do you do it!” and I remember shrugging and saying “It’s not that big a deal.” And I really thought it wasn’t. It was just my life. And I was happy, and I loved it.

Miss G’s dad’s absence was a blessing. It made things easier on us, not harder. And in many, many ways I had it made. Although my folks were no longer in town, I had a village of friends helping me, an army of benevolence at my disposal. I had a generous grandpa who let me live in his home rent-free while he moved into semi-assisted living. I had scads of free grants to go back to school, enough to cover tuition and daycare entirely. I took out a loan anyway and just lived off that during the school year, then worked summers. Living off less than $1000/month was challenging, yes. But I’d always been so broke, it wasn’t a whole lot more challenging than usual.

And I remember those years as being blissed out. Challenging, but hilarious. Miss G and I call them our ‘glory years.’ But with newly married perspective, I realize-- it was a big deal. So big I couldn’t see the edges. I thought I stood on solid ground but I was really treading water, neck-deep. And the longer we swam solo, the more exhausted I got. The chances of a passing boat seeing us splash around got slimmer and slimmer.

But I didn’t know all that. We just lived our life. Our movies. Our Zelda-playing. Our pizza-ordering. Our long walks and longer drives, screaming along to Jackson 5 with the windows rolled down.

Not until I met Dan and he so effortlessly stepped in to help me with Miss G from time to time-- volunteered daycare when he wasn’t working, never gave me exasperated attitude if I canceled on him because she had the flu, offered her shoulder-back rides everywhere without her asking, was just there with his comforting presence and his stupid one-liners and his gentle heart-- did I realize how much easier it was with two.

I stumbled into my Santa’s old online journal entries about moving here and there with his daughter. He mentions his roommate , and I imagine the challenges of this little girl growing up with a couple computer nerds. (I say that lovingly). He mentions dating, and I can’t get into the horrors of dating as a single parent because this is a blog, not a novel. He’s posted grinning, freckled photos of her smiling over food and I wonder if she made it herself, or if he’s teaching her to cook. There’s one of her gamely yanking carpet out of her room, so he’s teaching her some remodeling too. Excellent.

Australian Secret Santa, hang in there. It gets easier as she gets older. I salute you.

PS, Thank God again for Dan.


  1. I love this post. And I love Dan, too, even though I've never met the guy.

    Speaking of novels, will you share what you produced in November?


  2. Maarit, you ARE a hero. A H-E-R-O for surviving those years on your own. My hat is off to you girl!