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I will never understand how single parents do it.

I’m currently recovering from just one weekend with the kids alone. I’m on my second pot of coffee. That’s right—second POT of coffee, not cup. I had my two kids all weekend while my husband took a well-deserved golf trip with the guys. While he was hitting the course, I coached three soccer games, took the kids to an overnight get-together with six of my friends and their twelve children, and completed all of the motherly tasks that the weekend entailed. It was busy. Fun, but busy.

During my second day with my children, I noticed that I became more irritable. Remembering that my partner would not be there with me any time soon, stress crept into my veins. The daily fights between the two made the anxiety in my shoulders become tighten. The potty accidents proved to be more disgusting to clean up. The meals were more arduous to prepare. By the time bedtime rolled around, the angels in heaven shined their lights down upon my children’s beds because I’d had enough. I didn’t snuggle with the kids long and I didn’t stay up to write alone like I had wanted to. Instead, I submerged myself into my bed because my energy was depleted from the day. And after three days of all of that and more, today, I sit exhausted.

Single parents probably read those whiney paragraphs above and thought, “Boo, freaking hoo.”

And I don’t blame them.

To the single parent, my past weekend is their daily life. They don’t understand what the definition of a break is because they never get one. Not one second. They likely run on a handful of hours of sleep—at best. They probably feel lonely without a partner to vent and complain to on a daily basis. I envision that there are times when they think they are about to snap. But this isn’t about tossing pity at the single parent. No, it’s about applauding their day-to-day triumphs: getting the kids to school on-time, cooking a home-cooked dinner (or just picking up McDonald’s), and surviving the long work day. So, after spending three days as a faux-single parent who barely survived, I have a few questions. . .

How do you keep your patience in check?

How do you survive on so little sleep?

How do you get it all done—the packing of the lunches, the snack days, the soccer practices, the everything?

How do you salvage your own identity?

Single parents who have lost their spouse, separated from their partner, became pregnant before they envisioned, or the military spouse—you are remarkable. I will never understand how you do it. I barely survived three measly days without my partner. And today, I just want to crawl under my covers to reenergize. But single parents, never get the opportunity to do that. They constantly have to give, give, give. Yes, they receive their children’s love in return, but it’s not the same as a good old fashion break. Daily, they must feel like their tank is going to run out. Only, it never does.

The single parents keep giving love to their children (even when they think their energy is gone) because doing that is the single most important thing in their life. They know that the happiness of their children is solely placed on their shoulders. They own that, and they make sure they always follow through. So, just because the single parents don’t ever get the time to reboot their energy, they make sure their tank is always full. And their kids? They always feel the love from their single parent and they know that their tank will never, ever run out.

Angela Anagnost-Repke

Angela-Anagnost Repke is a writer and writing instructor dedicated to raising two empathetic children. She hopes that her graduate degrees in English and counseling help her do just that. Since the pandemic, Angela and her family have been rejuvenated by nature and moved to northern Michigan to allow the waves of Lake Michigan to calm their spirits. She has been published in Good Housekeeping, Good Morning America, ABC News, Parents, Romper, and many more. She is currently at-work on her nonfiction parenting book, Wild Things by Nature: How an Unscientific Parent Can Give Nature to Their Wild Things. Follow Angela on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram  

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