Last Sunday it hit me like a ton of bricks….it was the one year anniversary of my new title of “only parent.”
The “only parent” who would take her to get her hair and make-up done for prom. The only parent she would have at the end-of-season swim and cheer team banquets. Her only parent to arrange orthodontic and doctors appointments. The only parent to say yes to a night out or no way to two sleepovers on a weekend or attend the sorority day. The only parent to take a car to get fixed, to pay for cheer leading clothes, to demand they get summer jobs. To show up for events, attend football games, and carry out a plan to get into college, visit colleges and send in big checks for college…check grades, check cell phones, and check the amount of material covering you as they each go out the door…and to write checks as well.
I started practicing for my role as “Only Parent” a year ago this past Sunday when I attended Vicki’s swim team banquet alone. John was in the hospital. I was so nervous – he was her bestest buddy and so sick we weren’t even talking about it. I had to get this right – take the right pictures and videos so he felt included. He thanked me and then assured me he would be there with me next year. Sunday was the next year.
But this past Sunday, I sat alone.
Last year I was crying at the swim banquet because of the reality of what I had read on his condition. And this year I had tears in my eyes because she is thriving – despite the enormous loss, she is kicking ass. Vicki and I both stand so much taller with life more fully in perspective. We are both endlessly saddened by the loss but stronger because we have found our pace in making it without him – learning to give space and know what each other needs. We have shocked ourselves with strength. I have shocked myself that I can do it all for them alone.
I build invisible nets in her life without her knowing so she is easily caught.
And in those corners, where she misses him the most, I sprinkle pixie dust so she can turn that darkness into light and move forward.
My “only parent to my girls” is supported most by my husband, a man John actually helped me to find when he said in spring of ’13, “oh give online dating a try” he said. When I wanted to blend families John agreed to also move across the river to Pennsyltucky. The universe maneuvered around us to ensure I wouldn’t have to go this alone. Positioned me to have all of the support I ever needed to get them through this…to get me through this. Regardless of my marital status I am the “only parent” to our daughters and it is a role that both consumes and propels me . It is where I am most exhausted and worried but I also sit in my seat of personal brilliance I never knew I possessed.
If, at the swim team banquet last year anyone had told me that I would soon be going it alone, I would have never believed them. While I was fairly certain we were headed for disaster I thought we had years…not days to prepare. And, he had assured me he was immortal and promised me he weren’t going anywhere. It still seems impossible to me that he left. It seems impossible to me that I have to sit alone at any event.
The one thing I can tell you is that “Only Parents” need a ton of support. I’m lucky to have my husband and a small group of friends who hold me up on a regular basis (“when you talk about me make sure you spell my name correctly…its Dannielle with two N’s”) One consistent theme with only parents is that the “other family and friends” tend to “exit stage left.” Even for married couples there are problems, demands, or silence. With some they eventually come back …it is really hard when they don’t.