Most days I rarely ever think about the fact I'm a single parent. I'm always of aware it, like in the same sense I'm always aware that I have blue eyes and curly hair, but it's not something on which I fixate. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with that I've never known anything else- it's not as if I started off as part of a duo and then went to being just me. In many aspects, but not all, I think that would be even harder; to get used to someone being there, helping out, making tough decisions, etc., only to wind up having to do it all by yourself. And if I'm being completely honest, there are many times I have actually thought that being a single parent is sometimes easier, especially for a control freak know-it-all like myself!
But recently, I've felt things start to shift a little. More and more I'm thinking about how exhausting it is to be just me, the only, the good parent, the bad parent; just me. And by exhausting, I mean completely and utterly draining of all my mental faculties; exhausting. Spencer is extremely precocious and very strong willed. And by strong willed, I mean possessing the inner strength and willpower of a Buddhist monk on his 20th day of a fast; strong willed. Most days I appreciate this about her and I celebrate that I see so much of myself in my little girl. But then there are other days, like yesterday, when I want to lock myself in the bathroom and cry like a baby because I can't stand being the "bad guy" for one more second.
I am a control freak, yes, but it's not in my nature to be the constant disciplinarian. I can remember being a little girl and telling my mom that I was going to let my daughter eat whatever she wanted for dinner and if she just wanted to eat cookies, that would be FINE with me! Cue last night: Spencer has her head down on the table crying and crying that I don't love. Why? Because I said she couldn't get up until she finished her mac-n-cheese. Spaghetti was her first meal and then she informed me that she didn't want spaghetti, she wanted mac-n-cheese. So I gave in. Probably not the smartest decision, but in the end, I think it's more important that she eats then trying to make another issue out of something. Well, three bites into her second meal, I hear "I'm fuuulll."
I counted to three, took a deep breath, and told her that she wasn't getting up until she had eaten at least half of what was on her plate. And that's when the full on you don't love me, no one loves me, theatrics began. I told her that I will always love, no matter what she does, I will never stop loving her- just because I'm not happy with her or I'm making her do something she doesn't want to do, doesn't mean I don't love her- because I will never stop loving her. Twenty minutes later and she's still sitting there, giving me the same look I know I gave my mom many moons ago. Here's the thing- logically, I know that she's just three years old and she doesn't really understand that the words she's saying to me are like little daggers to my heart- but, every time she said "you don't love me anymore?" my heart broke a little. I wished there was someone there with me to help share that burden, to be the bad parent, if not instead of me, than at least along with me.
Eventually, she ate her food and then when she was finished she asked me for an Ogre Bar, aka, a Shrek granola bar, which made me laugh and laugh. Everything was fine again except that I felt like I'd been through a war. I don't like that I'm so rarely the fun parent- the mom that I thought I'd be. I know that a lot of what I used to envision was seen through immature eyes and that being a good parent means making rules and then enforcing them. But every now and then I wish that there was someone else to help me do those things.
I think part of what is getting to me isn't the current, but the future. Is this how it's going to be 10 years from now when she wants to wear some inappropriate outfit, something I used to fight with my mom about ALL the time? I can see my past words, something along the lines of "I'll always let my daughter wear what she feels comfortable wearing and NOT what I feel comfortable with her wearing" coming back to haunt me. Haunt. Me.
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