I spent three days of last week sick as a dog in bed. I had a terrible case of strep throat and influenza. I have never felt so sick in my life. The silver lining for me, but probably not for them, was that it fell over the holiday weekend so my husband, as well as my parents visiting from New York, were home to take care of the kids. For three days I couldn’t do anything except shiver or sweat in my bed and long for a day where I could swallow water without it hurting. Now that I’m back to the land of the living and eternally grateful for the amazing support team that was around me, I realized something. I don’t know how single parents do it.
I was lucky enough to be able to lean on my spouse and parents when I got sick. What happens to those who might be raising children by themselves? Perhaps without a spouse or without family nearby? How do they do it? I realized that my whining about being sick seemed trite to some of the obstacles they must face.
In thinking about this, I called a dear friend who went through a divorce years ago and is now raising her two children by herself. Her closest family lives about two hours away and I have always been amazed at how put together she always seems to be. I asked her what she does when she gets sick. She laughed and told me that she created a system where she buys a movie the kids really want to watch and hides it for times like that. When she needs to rest, she surprises them with it and they think they have hit the lottery. I laughed but then asked her if she feels she gets enough help and support. She told me that friends become your family and that a routine is key to survival. Those two points are true for all parents, single or joint, I believe.
I am still amazed though. Amazed that there are women and men who work all day, then have to carry the burden of meal making, homework, cleaning, grocery shopping, house maintenance, putting kids to bed… all by themselves. I only hope those who are dealing with that individually have found friends that have become family to help when times are tough. I now have a totally new appreciation of my own.
Danielle Herzog is married and a mother to two children. Read her every Wednesday on momaha.
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