I decided early on, that I am going to raise our two children to the best of my ability. We would be just fine–because another choice didn’t exist. I actually admire my own strength and positive outlook, thinking I could do this parent thing alone. (Disclaimer: If the right person never came along, I am sure we would still be ok, somehow. But having the right person come along, has made our lives THAT much richer in love.)
Being a parent in the “ideal” scenario, with your spouse, is hard enough. Break that in half, and its half of everything…half the love, half the guidance, and half the affection. Raising children alone after loss, stinks. If you have an ounce of judgement toward a single parent trying to find that teammate to live life with, drop it. Seriously. Until you have walked in the shoes of someone like me. Zip it. I faced some backlash for trying to move forward, and it caused a wound that is still sore. Support them. Encourage them to make good decisions and meet the person in question, but don’t make them feel like any less for trying. In the summarized words of my counselor, we are humans and we are meant to live life in pairs.
One of the HARDEST parts of parenting alone, is disciplining ALONE. Not only did I get tired of repeating myself, not having any backup, I had these two precious babies who’s world was rocked by suddenly missing the man that was a part of their daily life. I begged family and friends to help me discipline—which I know was hard for them, because they wanted to shower them with hugs and kisses. I had several people that stepped up and encouraged good behavior and called them out when they needed it, but it’s not like the firmness that a parent has. I was assured by so many that I wouldn’t have to parent alone, because they would “be there”. That was comforting to hear early on, but I knew it wasn’t practical. The question from my 4 year old, “Where’s Daddy?”, every single day, still needed to be answered. Everyone has their own lives, families, jobs, children, and obligations. No one could practically commit that time to us, although I had friends and family that tried– to which I am FOREVER grateful. It was hard to accept help, because of my guilt that lingered knowing that they were missing THEIR own family time. My outlook on time has changed so much since November 26, 2012. It truly is precious.
When we would go somewhere, it was me ALL me. I had to watch them constantly. I no longer could take turns watching the waddling 1-year-old and curious 4-year-old, I had to be on alert 24/7. The last thing I want is to fail at parenting and raise children that Kyle would be disappointed in. It is all on MY shoulders. No one else’s. Not Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle, Aunt…. It is ALL me. I wasn’t worried about my loneliness, as much as I was worried about the upbringing of my children being left entirely up to me. I’ve never received mother of the year or been the type of person that would be labeled the “perfect Pinterest Mom”. All of my parenting alone-parent friends…you have my respect. It’s HARD.
As each season of the year approached, it was accompanied with pain associated to Kyle not being here. He was killed just after Thanksgiving, so the seasonal obligatory activities had immediately begun. I am grateful that we put up the tree just before he was killed, the elf on the shelf book had been read, lights were hung, so that was all done together as a family. I couldn’t have survived without my sister, Cindy, who took a month off of medical school to live with me. She was my date, my partner, my helper, my Kyle stand-in. She was there to give me a break, help with bath time, read books, kiss boo boos, and clean up the house. After Cindy went back to school, life got real.
The loneliness, the silence, the role of being Mom and Dad and trying to keep life “normal” was exhausting. My little girl just wanted her Daddy back. It all just sucked. I fought back any feeling I had to consider another person to parent with me. For a long time. Then, after the longest year of my life, I needed a plumber…
Until the next nap time…
Sarah Deatherage Steele
I am a Mom of 3, re-married widow, dental hygienist, fresh food snob, grief supporter for widows, and the creator of Comforting Keepsakes Sympathy Gifts. My husband, AJ and I hand make and finish every detail of our Memory Boxes, in our garage! I love my family and friends, second chances, exploring new places, and of course food!
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