Since beginning this blog, I've had the fortune of coming across a lot of very talented writers and some pretty amazing blogs. Single Dad Laughing, Free Range Kids , and others have enriched my life in ways I could never have imagined. I've read about parents who have had to make agonizing decisions regarding life and death, I've read about giant metal chickens, and I've laughed and cried and ranted a little bit as I have read.
I have, of course, shared. :)
This blog, titled "Non Stop Mom" is one that has stuck with me a while and I have wanted to write my response to her post for several weeks now. She writes passionately about the difference between her situation and single parenthood, and to some extent we agree.
Military spouses whose Soldiers (Airmen, Sailors, Marines) are "away" are not single parents.
Now, while I encourage people to avoid playing the "I had it worse" game with their spouses and to try to remember that it gets you nowhere-- I'm going to dive in to this discussion a little bit here.
Because I don't think she gets it.
I agree that if we have a spouse, we are not single parents. (There are, however, MANY single parent Soldiers out there. That's a whole other situation.)
I agree that if our spouse can eventually step back into the role of Dad/Mom/Wife/Husband/Partner, we are not single parents.
My problem with her words is that she lumps together situations like "my spouse is sick so I'm a single dad for a while" or "my spouse works long hours so I'm a single mom during the week" with "my spouse is deployed".
Not the same thing.
Not even close.
I have friends whose husbands go away a lot for work. Sometimes they go away once a year for a big trip, and sometimes they go away a lot by choice for other reasons. I can sympathize with them because I believe it can be harder to pull 100% of the adult role when you aren't used to it. I hope I am usefully supportive of them.
I have very dear friends who are single moms. Every.Single.Day. Even if the dad is in the picture, the role of parent isn't shared and I'm sure they can read the above blog post and identify. They are truly doing it on their own. Even worse, many single parents have to deal with former "other halves" who argue and postpone and question every little thing they do with and for about about their children.
I would not want to be in their shoes. Somehow I doubt they'd like to be in mine.
I am not saying that spouses of deployed Soldiers are "single parents" and I'm not saying which situation is harder. I haven't been in one set of shoes, and I've worn the other more than I'd care to.
They are just different. They are both difficult.
When our Soldiers are deployed, we are Mom and Dad all rolled into one. Except that eventually, Dad is going to come home and expect his kids to have been raised according to his wishes.
When our Soldiers are deployed, we are also Wife and Husband all rolled into one-- we mow the grass, we pay the bills, we take the pets to the vet and we keep the house from falling down around our ears. Except that eventually, Husband will come home and expect (hope?) to find his truck and his ratty t-shirts and his comfy couch. Sure we can (and do) make changes, but most of us make these changes with our spouse in mind.
When someone is truly a single parent, they probably don't fear for their other half's life. They do not have nightmares, generally, about knocks on the door or the phone ringing-- they do not avoid CNN.
The target they imagine on their former partner's back may be something they fantasize about if the split was acrimonious. Not that I've heard any such thing from anyone before.
So, please-- know that we are not "single parents" if our spouse is deployed. And I, for one, will remember that I am not a "single parent" if he's just out of town for a little while.