My five days as a single parent

By Published On: May 30th, 2012

Written by: Christopher Spicer May 29 2012 I’ve not been […]

Written by: Christopher Spicer

I’ve not been designed for the single life. I fail at many of the key elements for a successful single person, such as resorting to microwave popcorn over an actual cooked meal, whimpering out a window in hopes someone will visit me, and begging the dog to come sleep with me because the bed is mammoth alone. Despite my inability to survive as a single person, I did come out alive after five days of being a single parent. How did a man so dependent on his wife pull off five days of single parenthood? My son is amazing.

My wife went to a conference in Colorado, and I decided it would be easier to complete my pay copy if I was at home. Since it can be hard to concentrate on a lecture if a baby is trying to play peekaboo, Emily decided Everett would stay back with me. She pumped six jars of breast milk, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and wished me the best for my five days as a single parent. I kept on promising her that things would be fine and I tried to come off as confident as possible, but I was just hiding my panic as I was desperately hoping I would still have my sanity and hair (what is left of it) by the second day.

It appears Emily and Everett had a meeting before she left. Emily must have sensed that I was worried and fearful that I couldn’t handle five days as the sole parent. She took our five-month-old son aside and said, “Look Everett, your daddy loves you very much and he wants the very best for you. The problem is that he can rarely dress himself, and still doesn’t know how to even work the thermostat. You need to help him out and make these five days as easy as possible if you still want to have a daddy by next week.” Everett must have said, “I’ll look after him, mommy.” My son stuck to his promise. It is now the end of the experiment, and I’m still alive.

Regular readers will know that in the past I struggled a bit in getting Everett to drink from the bottle. I was pretty worried that Everett was going to be stubborn and demand his milk the natural way, which meant my wife would be coming home to a 3 pound baby. Everett took to the bottle right away, and the bottle feedings were 100% hassle free (something Emily can’t always say about breast feeding). Actually, I ended up having another kind of problem with the feedings, because Everett took to the bottle so well that we were almost out of food by the fourth day. We really underestimated how much Everett actually eats, and we thought six jars of breast milk plus some cans of formula would easily get us to Emily’s return. It didn’t, and I ended having to get more formula. I admit that a healthy baby eating very well is a rather awesome “problem” to have.

I was concerned about the night as well. This isn’t because I cower in the dark or feared of a boogey man that would be unleashed now that Emily wasn’t around to protect us. The issue was that Everett had never slept through the night prior to my single parent experiment. As I learned during Everett’s first week in this world, I’m pretty useless when I’m woken up in the middle of the night. If you want someone to stumble into furniture or trip down the stairs then I can do it like a champ. I wasn’t confident in my ability to actually prepare Everett’s food when he was yearning for his late night snack. But my fears were unfounded, because for the first time in Everett’s life, he slept through the night on day one. He ended up sleeping through the night three out of the four times. Once again, Emily must have warned Everett that he would be getting a sleep zombie at 3 in the morning, and he decided that just wasn’t worth the effort.

I stayed home to get paid work done, but I was concerned being a single parent meant I wouldn’t be successful in my goal. I had nightmares of a symphony of tears that I couldn’t turn off, and slowly being pushed towards the temptation of launching Everett out a window to see if he can fly. My patience and sanity almost never got challenged over the five days. I didn’t get my usual amount of work done, but Everett allowed me to complete a good deal of it. Instead of being met with nonstop tears and cries, I ended up being blessed with loads of laughs and giggles. It was a great bonding time as we had lots of great play, and my son talked to me more than ever before.

My life as a single parent was a huge success. Or at least it was if you only judge it based off the fact the baby was looked after, the dog was kept happy, and I actually got work done. If you start factoring in things like the house being cleaned, other chores getting accomplished or if I ate healthy, then it was a bit of a bust. I am not factoring in such things, because I really was just hoping that I could keep my sons (Everett and Summit) happy while also getting work done. The complete dismissal of the other things is proof that I am not fit to be a single parent for the long haul, but that is also not something I ever aspire to be.

The experience did give me a whole new appreciation for single parents. They are amazing. I have a dream baby who gave me almost no problems, but I was still exhausted by day five. I can’t believe the amount of energy and strength a single working parent has in order to do this for years and years. Single parents are incredible people, and they have my respect. I also have to give a shout out to grandparents, because they are unbelievable. I probably gave you the impression I did this completely solo, but Everett’s grandma looked after him for a few hours one evening and took him to her house for an afternoon. I did a get a few hours break, and I treasured that time. I really hope that most single parents have family and friends that can provide that type of support.

I am not going to claim I mastered single parenting. I definitely survived it. It was a great experience, but all the credit has to go to my amazing son. I’ve actually been tricked into thinking I can do this single parent thing. I’m willing to try it again in the future. I am not in a rush to do five days again, but I’m open to a weekend. I had a great time looking after my son, but a single parent means that my wife is away. Even if I think I can handle looking after my son alone, I’m a big sucker that starts missing the company of my wife before the first evening is complete. I’m much better suited for long-term couple parenting, but I’m glad I tried living five days as a single parent.