David is currently deployed and we’ve had to adapt to life where only one parent is around. It has been incredibly challenging for me to parent two teenage boys both logistically and emotionally. From the logistics side, I have to take on the role of getting the kids ready for school, shuttling the boys to after school activities, cook dinner, and do homework help until late in the night all alone. Juggling a non profit management job, caring for two wild dogs, and keeping a (relatively) clean household all while foster parenting has taught me the importance of multitasking and time management. From an emotional perspective, I bear the burden of parenting, guiding, and counseling our boys during both good times and stressful moments. Between the two, the emotional toll has by far been the hardest. While I can use apps, calendars, and my organizational skills to make sure there is a hot meal for dinner and that the kids make it to their soccer practice on time, I have not found the same ease with supporting them in their social emotional development.
I’ve found myself questioning whether I can be a good foster parent when the emotional trauma the boys have endured is so complex and I don’t have the foreign language skills or cultural knowledge to adequately support them. I wonder about my capacity; are they getting enough love and attention when we barely have enough time to breath?
I have a new found respect for single parents. I have the luxury of knowing that I will soon have my partner back to assist with parenting the boys and offer some emotional respite, but I know that is not the case for other single parent households. I’ve often found myself at the brink of a breakdown, when I’m just so tired and frustrated that tears well in my eyes at the thought of having to do just one more hour of high school Math homework that I don’t understand (and I should add that I taught 9th grade math for 2 years).
I try my hardest not to feel resentment towards David as I know he does not have an easy job either. He works incredibly long shifts and is far from the comforts of home. However, I can’t help but feel some frustration for having to parent alone. When we signed up to be foster parents two years ago, I imagined I would be doing so with a partner by my side to offer words of comfort during the day to day difficulties of parenting. Any advice from single parents/ caregivers on how to do it all? I’m here counting down the days until David gets back…..