Christine Park

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Ode to Single Moms and Dads

“Believe me, as a busy single mother - or I shouldn’t say single - as a busy mother, sometimes when you’ve got a husband who is president it can feel a little single. But he’s there,” -Michelle Obama, April 2013.

I feel you, FLOTUS. Even though my husband is NOT the president of the United States, there have been times I've felt like a single mother too. Her husband was in Fresno County this past Valentine's Day. Mine was in Fort Lauderdale. In fact, my husband has been traveling a lot lately for work. From Ohio to Florida for eight days, working hard for his money. Which leaves me working hard not to lose my mind. Daughter wakes up crying from a nightmare. MOM! Teacher sends home a stack of papers to be graded. MOM! Four loads of laundry. MOM! I'm hungry. MOM! Endless dishes. MOM! I'm bored. MOM! I pooped, wipe my butt. MOM! Dance, piano, gymnastics, basketball. MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM! 

I didn't write this to complain. I LOVE interacting with my children and spending time with them. As a working mom, I feel like I miss too many of their moments. So all this EXTRA time together, just the three of us, has been great bonding. They've made me laugh (Son: "Mom, do you ever fart?), learn (daughter is a money whiz) and marvel (son can run a half mile faster than me!) But dang, I am tired. I've got a pedicure gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket. If only I had the time to use it! In fact, one girlfriend took pity on me and came over last Monday night after they were asleep, so I could slip out and get a massage. God bless her for her kindness and thoughtfulness. Then there are those times when the kids just miss their dad. There are tears, there are hurtful words, "I don't love you as much as I love daddy!" And there's nothing I can say or do to fix that. So I just hold them tight and let them know mommy's here for them. Thank goodness for FaceTime. It's been a Godsend for families like ours.

Obviously there's a light at the end of my tunnel. Husband has returned, albeit briefly, to relieve me from solo duty. But so many other mothers (and fathers) don't have that option. Which leads me to a new found appreciation for the challenges of single parenting, whether due to divorce or tragedy, or deployments overseas. It's not so much the daily duties. Getting to school, packing lunch, making dinner, bedtime stories, these are all things I would do anyways. It's more the unexpected things that come up. UGH one of the kids is sick. Who can take one to the school while the other goes to the doctor? Then, there's the lack of any down time. Like in tag team wrestling, when one person gets tired, the other takes over. Or even something as simple as distracting the kids so mommy can pee in peace.
Many hands make light work. But we've only got two hands. So things get dropped when the juggling gets too hard. One friend, whose husband travels out of town regularly for work, confessed to me that she hadn't washed her hair or shaved in days. Another showed me the dozens of takeout menus she resorts to because she can't bring herself to cook after working all day. All week I longingly eyed my bottles of wine, wanting so badly to pop one open every night yet feeling ridiculous and slightly like an alcoholic if I were to finish it alone. Plus, that would just mean more dishes. Sigh. I settled for hot baths after the kids went to bed. Calgon, take me away! Then I promptly went to bed at 10pm or earlier every night, exhausted from another day of being both mommy and daddy.

As the week wore on, I had a few moments of feeling overwhelmed. The kids must have sensed it. They were, for the most part, angels. They lifted my spirits by saying things like "You're the best mommy in the world!" and "I love you so much!" and "Thank you for taking us to the zoo mommy, we had so much fun!" Their unprompted words of gratitude meant more to me and restored me more than any spa day ever could. Because it made me realize, whether alone or with my life partner, I am capable of raising some dang good kids. So all of you parents out there doing it alone part time or all the time, keep on trekking. Your kids think you're awesome, whether they say it or not.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rock Bottom Mom Moments

So this photo, by mommy blogger  is making the rounds on the internet. She calls it her "rock-bottom mom moment."  She needed to shower before a cocktail party so she "corralled my entire brood in my room, handed out the iPads, gave my 6-year-old a bottle, and did what I had to do." I think this photo went viral because almost all parents can relate. We've all had them. In fact, we wear them proudly like badges, wearily re-telling them like war stories over glasses of wine. "Remember that time when I had to do whatever it took?"

Speaking of whatever it takes, this was our potty training tactic. It was the only thing that would keep my son sitting there AND provide incentive for no accidents. We tried everything. Sticker charts, gummy bears, goldfish, threats, bribes, you name it. So as for relying on iPads too heavily, I can relate. Thank you Apple, for your magic tablet. You helped my toddler give up diapers for good.

Along with the swapping of photos and stories like these, comes the realization that even "super moms" aren't so super all the time. Ah, but Pinterest would have you believe your sister-in-law or neighbor is a domestic goddess. I mean, she makes everything, from crafts to quilts to cookies from scratch, right? Well, what you don't see are the not-so-perfect outcomes. The deflated souffles, burned slow cooker meals, and lopsided knitted scarves. That's why I love the "Pinterest Fail" website. You need to check it out, the entire website is dedicated to "where good intentions come to die." It makes me feel better about any unsuccessful endeavors. Apparently these were supposed to be snowman cookies, not melted ghost puddles. In fact the one on the bottom left looks like it's decapitated and is bleeding out.

But I digress. As a working mom who happens to be on TV, I have a public persona to maintain. I must be perfectly polished, hair and makeup done at all times, and my children well-dressed and well-behaved. And for a good number of people, including viewers, people at church and school, and at the supermarket, that's all they see. Fellow moms remark, "I don't know how you do it all!" But here's my secret: I don't! In fact, here are some of  my Top Mom Fails:

1. Booking family vacation during daughter's dance recital
2. Forgetting to pick up children from school
3. Letting kids watch two movies back to back so I could nap
4. Holding son's bedroom door shut for over an hour while he had a tantrum, hoping he'd wear himself out before I did
5. Begging for wipes from other parents at a restaurant because I ran out after son had an explosive diaper
6. Telling daughter to get hot lunch from school every day of the week because I was on a lunch-packing strike
7. Getting a call from daughter's school (multiple times) that she was out of dress code and that I needed to deliver appropriate clothing immediately
8. Leaving toaster oven on all day, which nearly started a kitchen fire
9. Setting infant daughter on a bed for a nap, only to come running after hearing a thump to find that she rolled off and fell onto the floor
10. Let kids go days without bathing because I was too tired to do it and they "smelled fine" anyways

So just like Pinterest Fails, I turn to Parent Fails, to make myself feel better about my sub-par parenting. Hey at least I'm not raising a "robber in training!"