Dear Solo-Parenting Partner

Dear Solo-Parenting Partner,

Hi. It’s me. You know, the parent who’s currently at work, while you’re solo-parenting for the majority of this bright, sunny, long summer Saturday. I just got your text about the Extremely Difficult Morning you’ve been having, complete with a Target meltdown, and although I’m still here stuck at work, I wanted to write this down for you (and by extension, all the other solo-parenting rockstars today).

  1. You’re amazing. Kids have no idea how challenging, frustrating and (often) just plain boring a day solo-parenting can be. But I know. And you’re doing a great job handling it.
  2. You are doing a much harder job than I am today, and I don’t say that lightly; while I’m at a desk dealing with the general mostly-adult public, you’re trying to navigate the world with a small person who’s still learning how people act in public, how to use public restrooms without being scared of loud noises, and hold it together until snack time. I know it’s super cliche to say parenting is harder than clocking in and out of the regular brick-and-mortar job, but as the brick-and-mortar person who’s getting texts about the latest atrocities committed in Target (because toddlers gonna toddle)…yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m getting the better end of the deal, here.
  3. You don’t have to go out and do a zillion activities if you would rather stay inside. Going out with a rambunctious toddler in tow is exhausting. Don’t feel like you have to cram in all the extracurriculars if you’re just struggling to make it through to the end of the day with your sanity semi-intact. Sure there’s a storytime at the library today, but don’t feel like you’re a lesser parent for not making it there.
  4. I seriously can’t believe people don’t get trophies for solo parenting, because they obviously should. People get certifications for skills learned, scouts get merit badges for challenges mastered, why don’t we acknowledge the labor of the at-home partner more than we do? The answers are numerous and complicated, and I can’t solve any of them here in this letter, but I can do this: I can encourage you to take a well-earned creamsicle out of the fridge and quietly appoint yourself Master of Solo-Parenting (and then, obviously, indulge in said creamsicle). You’ve earned it.
  5. Every time I’m at work and you’re home, I feel tremendously guilty. Society works pretty hard to make me feel bad for not being the mom at home. Thank you for never, ever making me feel bad about being a full-time breadwinner, or for making me feel like less of a mom because you do more solo-parenting than I do due to the nature of my work schedule versus yours. Thanks for helping me remember that it’s not the number of hours we each spend with our child that matters; that it isn’t a contest, or a running tally. It’s cumulative. Thank you for never lording the extra hours you spend solo-parenting over my head. AKA, thanks for being a decent human!

In short, solo-parenting is a tough job. Even when you think you can’t take another hour of Raffi songs or another Target meltdown, you do. Thank you. You’re doing great, solo-parenting partner.

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