Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

The Only Parent

Monday, March 5, 2012
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I often feel the need to clarify my position in the world of parenting.  Yes, technically, I suppose I am single.  No longer married.  Without spouse.  Yes, I am a parent.  But I don’t see myself as a typical single parent.  Even Wikipedia defines ‘Single Parent’ as:  a parent who has most of the day-to-day responsibilities in the raising of the child or children, which would categorize them as the dominant caregiver. 

Thank you, Wikipedia, for seeing it my way.    See, I am not just the dominant caregiver.   I am the ONLY caregiver.  I have ALL of the day-to-day responsibilities (and beyond) of raising the children.

It‘s not that I don’t empathize with the plight of the single parent.  I do.  It’s just that I am incredibly jealous of them.  I admit it.  I almost resent people who get to hand off the responsibility of parenting, even if just for a little while, to another parent.

I envy the passing of the proverbial parental baton.  Like many parents, I used to complain when I had to put the kids to bed by myself for several nights in a row.  I’d moan about Kevin’s annual fishing trip, which left me on my own with the boys for a few days.  I’d hand the kids over to him on weekend mornings, because I felt overwhelmed after a long week.  I simply couldn’t imagine doing it alone.

My sons were eighteen months and 3 years old when Kevin died.  They are now 4 and 6.  I have done nearly as much parenting alone as we did together.  This isn’t how I thought it would be.  I still wonder if I’ll ever get used to it.

It sure is a daunting task.  It is up to me to answer every question, attend to every cry, fix every hurt, be there for every practice, game and recital, and, most importantly, raise them to become good, decent, kind, men.  The pressure, the stress and the sheer responsibility are more than I ever bargained for.  Sometimes it feels like I could collapse under the weight of it.

There is no one to share my worry. No one to share my joy, and my pride.  No one to tell me that they will grow out of it/learn how to do it/be ok.  No one to cheer with on the sidelines.  No one to share the ups and downs that make parenthood so incredible.   No one with whom I can share that secret parent look that means, “That’s our boy!”

Beyond the challenges of parenting is the gravity of what my boys have lost.  The baseball games, graduations, their weddings – all of the moments that their father won’t get to see.  Knowing that a piece of their lives will always be missing.   There is no greater sadness than seeing this loss through my children’s eyes. 

Parenting alone is by far the most difficult thing I’ve even done.  But being a parent has been my greatest gift.  It has softened the blow of losing Kev by filling my life with purpose and joy.  My sons are my beautiful reminders of Kevin – little pieces of him left behind.  Parenting them is an honor and a privilege – one that Kevin didn’t get to have for nearly long enough.

I know that I won’t be perfect, or even enough.  I will yell, slam doors, stomp my feet and screw up more often than I’d like to admit.  But then I will slip into their rooms at night to kiss their cheeks and tell them that I will do better and try harder. 

I will hang in there.  I will treasure every (well, almost every) moment spent together.  And I will love them for the both of us.   


You have Put into words what has been rattling in my head and heart for the last 26 months

Laura, I can't imagine how hard it is for you to to do everything on your own, but I hope you know you are doing an AMAZING job!!!

Laura, You are an extremely brave individual! Your strength and determination are admirable! I could not begin to imagine what you have had to go through but I admire your strength! Your boys are very lucky to have you!!!1

Laura - you are amazing...just know there are many- many - many people pulling for you and we are so glad you are moving life forward - and showing your boys how to perservere.

Laura, your ability to express yourself is amazing. Thank you for sharing the truth about your daily life and the challenges and joys you continue to face every day without Kev. I know it's not even close to the same but I'm always willing to be at your side for a practice, a game, a recital, anything! Love you lots!

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