So for the past year, I’ve been in the process of becoming a giant, feelings-having sap. I didn’t know that I was capable of such mushiness, nor that I ever wanted any of that…stuff. The gentleman with whom I’ve chosen to spend my time is wonderful in all the ways, and I could not be happier. Nor did I realize just how much easier life is with a fucking good partner. Of course, I mean this for day-to-day things (like cooking and doing the dishes and taking the goddamn recycling out in the rain, and is it raining literally every time we have to go outside for something? I think so.) But I also mean it as a parent.
In my years with my child’s father, and beyond, I’ve never had a partner. Coparenting meant not actually coparenting, but rather just me, you know, parenting. Yes, he stayed with HamGuy for a couple of years while I worked during the day. But without divulging too many irrelevant and embarrassing (for me, mostly) details, that did not work out. I found reliable child care, and paid for it (along with literally everything else.) I’m not a martyr by any means, and I’m not writing this to invoke sympathy. I’m well beyond the pity-party stage of my life. But I worked full time, ran up thousands in credit card debt to keep my child in full-time daycare, stayed home when my son was sick, stayed up late, dealt with tantrums, took the trash out (IN THE RAIN WHYYYY OMG), bought the Christmas gifts, cooked, cleaned, managed any other number of tasks, and still maintained some semblance of social life (mainly by hosting people on my porch or my wonderful friends offering sitting gratis – you guys STILL RULE.) (I also spent a LOT of time incredibly depressed because FUCK, that’s a lot of shit to do.)
Things were this way for awhile. My lovely roommates for 2 years helped ease a lot of burden, especially with groceries and babysitting (SERIOUSLY, HUGE SHOUT OUT), but I was the one who had to leave early from work because my son was vomiting or come in late because there was a school delay, or deal with the entire age of 5 which was a nightmare hellscape. And please remember, during this time, I was still a person (for the record, I am still a person and not a bear or an anthropomorphic dolphin.) A person who had a LIFE and INTERESTS and did not (and still do not) believe that my entire identity rests on being my son’s mother. With age and maturity and peeking at the metaphorical sun after years of depression (mostly caused, I feel, by all the STUFF I was doing), I did finally realize that if I could not find a for-real partner, I was better doing the damn thing myself. Because what’s the point having a significant other if all they do is let you down? That’s twice the fucking hassle right there, and the quickest way to lose yourself and spiral into depression (again).
I held out. I didn’t commit to anything I didn’t feel fully. No one could step up to the plate. Taking on the responsibility of raising another man’s child isn’t something a person accepts lightly. Especially when the other man is nearly absent, and the entire responsibility would rest solely on your shoulders to be this kid’s father figure. Men had told me in the past that I was “intimidating,” to which I responded, “That’s not my fucking problem.” I wasn’t going to fucking kowtow anymore to some whiny man-child who was afraid of someone who took care of her shit because all that had gotten me was frustration and anger. Being single wasn’t a goddamn death sentence! It was a breath of fresh air.
Then one day, quite out of the blue, everything changed. A gentleman whom I’d known for awhile made it clear that he would, indeed, step up to the plate. We spent hours and days and weeks talking and talking, and I noticed that he didn’t just talk, he actually DID things. And when he said he would do something, he would…do it. He finds me intimidating, but he says it just makes him work harder. It’s a challenge in the best way. Over the past year, we’ve been building a wonderful, stable relationship built on a mutual hatred of theme parks, camping, and pets. (We also love and respect each other.)
But my son! Holy shit. My son. He’s got a person who isn’t me to count on now. A man who’s really into drawing with him, and introducing him to comic books, and farting (which apparently isn’t as funny when it’s Mom doing it?) (SEXIST!) This dude is also endlessly patient with HamGuy, and encourages him to talk about his feelings. They have adventures together at Bass Pro Shop, and no one else can put HamGuy to bed. My dude takes him to school every morning where they have in-depth conversations about space, or a shitty kid in class, and I know that when he’s off during the week, my dude has no problem scooping him up (should an ACTUAL medical emergency occur, and not the made-up one HamGuy tried to pull a few months ago when I started my new job, which he figured would land him a half day of video games with my cool boyfriend. That dummy should have known that I’d make him lay down with nothing but a book!)
The other amazing part of this is that I think I’ve been doing way better in the Mom Department because I’m not so fucking stressed out all the time. We both work full time, we both cook, we both clean, we both take care of HamGuy. Our expenses are split pretty evenly and he mostly gets out of doing yardwork because I want it to be DONE ON SATURDAYS, when he is generally working. Our long-term goals include buying our home, going to Spain, and taking HamGuy on any number of vacations and adventures so he can see the country. When HamGuy’s wonderful sitter announced she was moving across town, and would not be able to provide afterschool care anymore, I barely even had to mention it to my dude – he’d already assumed he’d be picking the kid up a couple days a week. It’s the best…for everyone. (It’s not all kittens and rainbows – HamGuy still has his moments of being an 8 year old boy, especially when growth spurts happen. Then both of us want to leave him in the woods til he is 18.) (But it’s both of us TOGETHER, instead of just me!)
If you’re lucky enough to be in this parenting situation with a partner (one who is in your child’s life half the time, whether or not that person and you have a romantic relationship,) you should be so fucking grateful that you have a person to unload half a world of responsibilities. For real, I had no idea how much I was actually doing until I had someone there to say, “Hey, let me get that.” And if you’re not partnered and doing this parenting thing on your own, keep on doing it. Don’t you dare settle for anyone that is less than your equal because if there is any way to make parenting even more difficult, it’s trying to raise a person while walking on eggshells the whole time.