Sunday, April 03, 2011

Me? A Single Parent? Shocking!

I've had quite a day so far.  My feet are aching, and my after work beer tastes delicious.  Today I have chosen Rolling Rock Pale Ale.  Sad to switch from Black Butte Porter, but the sun is out, so it's time.  I realize I kind of look like Petula Clark,  and I don't care right now.  After all, Down Town is a great song.

Ultimate Petula Clark

Ben said something to me last night that hit me like a ton of bricks.  Well, it wasn't just one thing, actually.  We have been having this ongoing fight for (almost) a year about my children.  I always read the same thing into what he was saying, which to me, was that he didn't love them and never could.  They weren't his children.  As we were laying in bed last night, we were speaking about it again.  He made the comment that I shouldn't fall asleep in the middle of the conversation.  I hadn't fallen asleep, I had fallen silent.  I finally understood what the fight was about.  I finally GOT what he was trying to tell me.

My children are not his.  I am a single mom.  When Ben and I first began dating, anything he did for my children was miraculous to me.  Six months later, I enjoyed that he did things for them, I almost expected it.  Now, a few years or a couple years or whatever later, I write my schedule on the calendar and just expect that he will be here to care for them.  I have assumed him into the "father" position.  I have put him into a place where he doesn't belong.  Sure, he loves my kids.  However, he is also a man with a daughter, has an extra-full-time-job, and stress that would blow anyone away.  The last thing he wants to worry about is passing my children off to an inexperienced babysitter, and explain what to do with them for the day.  That's not his job.

I did the single parenting, single handedly, with two kids for years.  There was no Ben then.  I managed to see the sitter, get the kids to where they needed to go, and hold down a full time job.  I did it all with such ease that others were envious of me.  When they asked how I did it, I replied, "people do what they have to do."

I awoke this morning realizing that the kitchen was a mess and there was hardly any food in the house.  I would get up and run out the door, and Ben would have to clean up after me, decide what the kids should eat and relay messages to the babysitter, all by nine am.  How unfair of me.  I'm thankful I awoke at 5:45.  I did the dishes, placed breakfast on the table and packed lunches for the boys.  They woke just as I was leaving, so I was able to say bye and turn a movie on for them.  Ben said it was a much more manageable morning.  He said thank you.  I said I understood, and I do.

All this on my mind when I walk into work, and I'm slightly discombobulated.  My morning was fast then slow then slammed.  I kept up most of the way, just one step behind for a while.  I finally acknowledged a regular customer who is always reading on his kindle in the restaurant.  He is always silent, always nice.  I offered a little humor and more smiles than usual.  I will remember his breakfast from here on out, I told him.  He said he switches it up from time to time.  I guess I'll always have to check in with him first.

Then, there was the 5 top of high school kids who didn't tell me they were in a hurry.  They had to be at their hotel at nine am, and it was 8: 40.  Right.  Let me just hurry around and rush and push your table (one of my six) right through, and just so you know: It says in bold letters on the table to let your server know if you're in a hurry.  I think they made it out in time.  Thank goodness I'm good, right?

Of course, let's mix in the other 5 top, who I included a gratuity for.  They left a comment card about the gratuity.  They said their food "took too long", and rated my speed of service a 2.  Right, people.  It says on the menu that parties of five or more have an 18% gratuity included.  Also, I don't cook the food.  It's not like it was sitting in the window and came out cold.  Good food takes time, duh.

The final piece of the day at work was the two ladies that had been eating there for ten years.  They came for breakfast at noon, and we were out of hollindaise.  Sorry, no benedict for you.  They ordered their breakfast, and when I brought it to them, they decided they wanted a pancake as well.  I ran to the computer and put it in.  Before I had a chance to get to the kitchen to explain, the cook was out with the manager telling him I rang in a late breakfast.  Granted, he wasn't mad.  I explained and it was cooked.  When I brought it to the woman at table 24, she asked, "is this a blueberry pancake?"  Um, no, it's not.  Would you like a side of blueberry compote?  Jeesze, after ten years of coming in, you should know to come in early for hollindaise, and please, please, don't send back a pancake we made for you after breakfast time, just because you can.

Off to home, and the sitter is here.  It's apparent that she  hasn't done any of the dishes from the day, and the kids are watching a movie at two in the afternoon.  They are watching a movie and it's 65 degrees and sunny outside, and its TWO IN THE AFTERNOON!!!  Lady, you're probably fired, though I can't really call it that.  I think I'll just not schedule you next week.  Guess I should call dad and see what his plans are next weekend, huh?

After I took hold of my house and gained control over it (dishes, windexing the bathroom, making beds, putting laundry in baskets), I headed over to Avalon to take Ben a Vitamin Water.  When I walked in he said, "So I guess I'm GM now."  Whoa, that was fast.  What does it mean for our time and our family?

Well, I'm a single parent.  Ben's time is not my time, and we'll get time together, I'm sure of it.  However, I also have to find a sitter, and remember that I'm going at it alone.  Ben's help is appreciated, and he does what he can.  I just can't expect it.  Stress levels will rise, I'm sure.

I think moving forward into the week, it's going to be important to me to focus on me.  I need to focus on my schedule, my children, my writing.  I have to let Ben do his thing, I can't control what happens at Avalon.  It's not my place.  However, I can make sure the cutting boards at Greenleaf don't smell bad.

I'll make sure I stay in my place this week.


  1. Do you think that this is true of every single parent out there, that even if they find a partner for themselves again, and this partner accepts their kids, they will forever be a single parent?

  2. Nurturing a child that is not yours by blood is probably not a strong male trait...but there are many men who embrace children fathered by other than themselves.

  3. CHattin, that's a good question, as well as was that a nice response. I'd like to believe that eventually my family will become one, and that there will be no tension or resentment toward the fact that I have previous children; alas, I do not have faith. I do, however, have faith in the relationship Ben and I have, and I firmly believe I can handle being a single parent forever. At least, at this point, I do.

  4. The quickest way to ruin a relationship is to expect that a new partner, be it husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, is going to see your children in the same light as you. Do not expect a new partner to love taking on parent responsibilities/feelings

  5. Anonymous: what is considered new? In your opinion, how many months, days, years, does it take?

  6. I don't have any kids, but I know my partner would never fully accept a child of mine that isn't his. It doesn't make him unkind or a bad person, it just is. Knowing, accepting and dealing with that is what matters. More power to you Mel.