Tuesday, August 27, 2013

conversation in which I am being extremely literal

Conversation with a girlfriend in which I am completely unsupportive:
Her: When I raised my kids, I did it all alone.

Me: But you were married...?

Her: Yeah, but he didn't do anything, it was still all on me.

Me: But what about that time that he picked you up when you had an emergency? Or that time you had the flu? Or that he brought in a paycheck and you didn't have to work?

Her: Whatever. Raising kids is a LOT of work and he didn't help me.

Me: But that IS help! Even if he wasn't changing diapers. It's not like he did *nothing.* Even if it was just financial help, that's huge.

Her: You don't get it. Trust me, I did it all all alone.
Dudes, if he's even THERE it is a huge help. I once considered what it would be like to be a single parent. I did the hypothetical as if I had a kid all by myself and had NO help whatsoever. Floating everything I needed on my salary: daycare, diapers, food, housing, clothes because they're growing fast, lessons because you want your kid well-rounded and to have friends and hobbies, and then there's kid stuff like toys and experiences -- all that stuff costs money.

Now, outside monetary help may have been a possibility but I wasn't counting on it. I'm stubborn about that self-sufficiency thing. It would have killed me to have anyone responsible in even the slightest way if I alone chose to bring a child in the world. (Although I would gladly take the participation of anyone who wanted to be a part of my kid's life -- there is no price that can be put on the enrichment of being loved.)

Anyway, so that stuff above is just the financial part. What about times like when you have the flu and the baby has the flu and no one is around to get medicine? No matter how slack the husband is, at least he's *there*. I was lying in bed one night, nauseous and sick and I couldn't move, I had to lie very still just to keep the waves of nausea at bay and I thought what would I do if I had a kid right now? I brought this up and my friend said, "Well, yeah, but you just do it. You do what needs to be done, somehow you power through."

I mean, obviously. Parents all over the world deal with all different kinds of circumstances but please don't discount help when you get it. Just don't. Maybe it's not enough or even what you need but it's not "nothing."

Followup link for new parents -- the comments on this question in the Carolyn Hax column bespeak of the difficulties that many parents are hesitant to admit. It is pretty darn hard to raise a kid (although I want to emphasize that that does not have to negate it still being an amazing experience).


  1. If she is still married, I feel for the husband. If she's divorced or gets divorced, she'll realize right away how much tougher it really is raising kids alone. Last ditch, when he stops sending her welfare check every month and she has to work and raise kids, like a REAL single mom, she'll wish she treated him better. Wish I could say there wasn't a lot of people out there men and women who feel so self important but we're part of a selfish generation.

  2. I'm sure the guy feels unappreciated too! It must be a lonely place in that household for both people.