“A year from now, what will I wish I had done today?” – unknown
Deep into the section on expectations in Brené Brown’s book Atlas of the Heart, I had a huge a-ha moment. She was talking about a conversation with her husband in which they both confessed to each other that they had an easier time parenting on the weekends they did it solo. Because they set aside their expectations to be able to do anything other than parent for that weekend.
This put a shape to the experience I have had as a single parent. Because I never expect that someone else will take the night shift or be there on the weekend, I have had to set really clear boundaries on the work and hobbies that I do because I know I won’t be able to duck out for a couple of hours.
That means that nights and weekends, I pretty much focus on hanging out with my kids. I do get a few chores around the house done with their “help.” The tradeoff for giving up Saturday morning hiking with my friends has been the gift of not believing I can try to do both things.
I know many of my parenting friends do an incredibly great job of splitting up the parental labor. One person will do the 9am-noon shift on Saturdays so that the other can go swimming and then they switch and the other gets “time off.” I have a pretty good inkling that if I was doing parenting with a partner that I would try for that approach and be a lot more confused about what I could handle.
I don’t know who said “Do one thing at a time and do it well.” My mom? Winnie-the-Pooh? Or maybe it’s not ascribed to a particular person because everyone who has learned the wisdom repeats it. When I wrote the post a couple of weeks ago about being invited to climb a mountain this summer, so many of my dear and wise blogging friends reminded me that parenting goes fast and there will likely be time to return to my hobbies later.
I believe that at some point I will have a partner again and more personal freedom. However, there isn’t anything I would trade for this uncomplicated time where I learned to really spend time with my children and enjoy it. Sometimes not having help forces us to distinctly draw boundaries we wouldn’t know to set otherwise.
(featured photo from Pexels)