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In praise of single mothers, fathers

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Melanie Stetson Freeman/Christian Science Monitor

(Read caption) Single mom Lena Bushrod raises her daughter, Alaina Inman, full time. Alaina's father is still in the picture - and her parents are still a couple, but they both still live with their own parents. This allows Lena to be a full-time mom because she doesn't have to work. They were photographed last year.

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The first thing that went wrong was the lock on the door. It didn’t work.

Our friends S and R generously lent us their Cape Cod condo the weekend of Father’s Day. They were away and Ken was on an extended business trip. I thought that a quick outing to the Cape would nicely break up the time while he was away. We unlocked the door of the condo just fine, but locking it was another story. I leaned heavily on my technologically savvy teenagers to figure out the lock’s mechanism. No dice. None of us had a clue about how to work our friends’ door.

My first inclination was to call Ken who was a continent away. After all, the man can walk me through complicated computer problems over the telephone. But I quickly realized that, as talented as he is, even he could not figure out how to work a lock he had never seen. The kids and I did the next best thing. We called a locksmith who, five minutes and $65.00 later, showed us that all we had to do to lock the door was lift up the handle.

And then it hit me like a megaton of bricks – this is what single parents go through every day. They don’t have the luxury of calling on a partner to get them through a rough patch. I can remember the extensive debates Ken and I have had over the years about little things like low-grade fevers, sleepless babies and fussy toddlers. Tylenol or Advil? We had no idea what we were doing, but it was less scary to be in the dark together.

Here’s another thing about our weekend away – driving. I had to do all of it. Ken always does the driving while I snooze in the front seat. This time it was completely up to me to get my kids from Point A to Point B since neither of them has a driver’s license. That’s a lot of pressure on someone with a lousy sense of direction that doesn’t like to drive.

But one of the biggest things that I learned on that fateful weekend was that Anna and Adam weren’t thrilled to be so far from their friends. That’s right, I’m not their whole world anymore. Not even remotely. So I expended a lot of energy on trying to make them happy. Unfortunately, the two of them have very different ideas of happiness. One likes the beach; the other hates it. One likes the movies; the other is not so keen on sitting in a theater for two hours.


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