Tuesday, February 18, 2014

flying solo...let's get real

She may be dramatic but sometimes I feel like making this face, too. 

Whenever I sit down to work I spend fifteen minutes (sometimes more) perusing blogs. Because I work from home you could liken this journey around blogland to a walk around the office; instead of chatting with co-workers I read your words. Lou just wrote about the crazy hour(s) - that dreaded witchy time that involves dinner - negotiation - mediation - dirty dishes - shower/bath - stories - answering questions - sleep encouragement - back rubbing - twinkle star singing - attempting not to fall asleep yourself. She's about to embark on three weeks of solo parenting and she's feeling a little overwhelmed. She linked to me in her post and said she was taking notes on how I'm coping. 

I'm five-and-a-half weeks into this solo parenting gig and I have about seven, maybe eight weeks to go (there is no definite flight home for Daniel just yet - the nature of the film industry). To be blunt, some days are fine and other days are shit (no other adjective is quite right). I don't think so much about the crazy hour but more about our crazy days; embracing them for what they are instead of wishing they were something else. For now, this is my reality and I'm going to see it through.

But that's not to say that I'm doing it graciously. Far from it. Yesterday the guy in the fruit shop asked me how many weeks I had to go and when I told him he said: "Wow, you're devastated, aren't you." I almost cried. Later in the day I was chatting to Daniel on facetime and I bawled my eyes out, told him I missed him like crazy and this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Then, when the beautiful girl delivered my organic box in the afternoon, I engaged her in what can only be described as a counselling session; I'm pretty sure I told the kids to jump on the bed because I needed to have an uninterrupted adult conversation. I cried to her, too. Last night, I revelled in the opportunity to be out of the house for two hours - even if I was attending the parent information night at school. 

Am I coping? Yes, I am. But I'll admit that this experience is emotionally challenging in way that I never anticipated. It's a hard slog and as I juggle work and parenthood and housekeeping I'm trying my best to work my way through the sadness and the missing and the inevitable jealousy. I'm pondering the different roles that mothers and fathers play, considering the future of his and my career (and what it means for our family) and believing, more than ever, that distance really does make the heart grow fonder. 

Lou, my advice: eat regular meals, ask for help and take it when it's offered, buy fresh flowers, go to bed before 10pm, keep dinner really simple, take it one hour at a time, lower your expectations, laugh at the madness of it all, cry unashamedly, buy and use dry shampoo.

Some days you'll feel exhausted and defeated and at other times you'll experience a profound sense of achievement and empowerment. As a friend said to me recently: sacrifice always brings rewards


36 COMMENTS

  1. "Cry ashamedly."
    That's what I do, all the time. And I'm not even doing it solo.
    Big hugs,
    Ronnie xo

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  2. "shit" is absolutely the best adjective for it. Sometimes I don't know where my head is or why I'm crying. It takes such a toll on us physically and emotionally, and I salute single parents doing it all over the world. Let me buy you all a drink.

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    1. Every day I find myself thinking about single parents and holding them in the highest regard...and then wondering how on earth they do it. x

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  3. hey, I've been thinking about you guys, can daisy and I come visit next week?

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  4. Haha, dry shampoo, yes! I didn't realise it until you wrote it, but it was during my husbands long stint on the road when I first started using the stuff too. It's so so hard doing it alone, but incredibly liberating too. You're learning how to break more, how to be put back together, and how much stronger and more capable than you thought you were that you actually are. X

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  5. My husband has been doing FIFO work sonce 2011 so you'd think I'd be used to the whole solo parenting gig. I'm not. It's exactly as you say- some days are fine, actually some days are great! but there are a lot of shitty days too. Today is a my middle son's 11th birthday & my husband still has 8 days of his 28 day swing left. He called bright & early to wish the birthday all the goodness life has to offer & sent a little photo meaage too. When I asked my boy if he wanted to send a message back he said " no" I replied with " come on, I think dad is sad he's not here with you" & he turned to me with tears in his eyes & said " I'm really sad too." It broke me ( & I'm crying again as I type).
    These are the hard days when it doesn't matter how often you try to explain to your kids why we live this kind of life & how often they say they get it nobody is OK. But each morning we wake up & tick another day off, start fresh & go with the flow.
    Hang in there xx

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    1. In tears over your comment! Just dropped hubby off for his 3 weeks, this post sums it up perfectly. Much love xox

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    2. Thanks Audrey. This FIFO life is tough isn't it? Yeah it has perks ( as people like to point out) but honestly days like today make me want to tell the husband to throw it all in!

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  6. I think your advice is great for solo flyers - but maybe for parenting in general. I've been learning a whole new way of parenting now that I have two littles. Oh the crazy, impossible juggle! A lovely friend of mine gave me a pep talk in the early weeks about being super organised. Being a Capricorn, this is important to me! One of the best pieces advice she gave me was to pack Saskia's food for the day ahead (either the night before or early morning) as if we were going out. I'm sure most parents already do this already, but I found it life saving. I hated standing in front of the cupboard umming and ahhing about what to give her, and now I'm always so grateful to simply reach for the tins/tray come snack time…xxx

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  7. My husband left me 12 months ago and I fell that I am just now finding my flow (and my feet) with the single parenting/working/studying gig. It takes practice and patience and I also think it takes learning not be so hard on yourself which has been my biggest learning curve. Gosh though, aren't kids amazing. I am just so proud of my girls (I have 3), their sensitivity and intuition has developed so much, their understanding of how our home dynamics have changed and their ability to evolve and trust. Makes me weep. Solo parenting is not ever easy but I do find myself feeling proud of my home life and what we (as a family) have achieved together.

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    1. I bet you girls are incredibly proud of you too x

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  8. I can only imagine how difficult it must be with two little ones, who themselves are also probably trying to adapt to a new way of home. My children are a little older but I understand how challenging, especially emotionally, flying solo can be. My husband has moved to a different state for a new job and I am back home trying to sell our house. It's been eight months...eight long months. I'm sure the challenges are even greater for you. I do believe strongly that sacrifice does offer open doors and rewards.

    When times are tough and you're exhausted...remind yourself that your almost half way there. xo

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  9. What a great post. I Need to frame and hang this post on the fridge.

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  10. so many of us parents will be able to relate Jodi. Hang in there…set yourself really little goals, make them really achievable and above all, lower your self expectations whilst flying this gig solo…your not there to be two parents, just one. And remember to take care of yourself xx

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  11. Hi Jodi,
    I am another FIFO wife. We have been living this lifestyle for a decade and we have 4 children under 7. My hubby has had several different rosters during this time, and at the moment isn't on a roster as such. Often when he goes away we aren't sure exactly when he will be back. When our youngest was 5 weeks old he was meant to be away for a week, but ended up being away for seven weeks with a brief 5 day visit in the middle. From my perspective it's the not knowing that is tricky. If you have a date to work on you can count back from there - 5 more sleeps!!
    Keep up the good work. You are doing a great job. And yes, human interaction is essential!!
    Good luck,
    Cat.

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  12. I totally understand how you feel. My husband and I work in theatre (or at least I did before I became a mum). I have really struggled with my jealousy as he gets offered exciting project after project. We are gearing up for his first major tour since Forrest was born (a month in Canada, my favourite country in the world). I sadly can't go with him so I am finding your reflections on this really helpful as I am pretty scared about how I will cope not only with the baby but with myself. It sounds like you are doing an incredible job.

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  13. Solo parenting is hard as you are "IT" all the time and ther is no "can you sort the kids out while I do dinner". I totally know that most Mum's even with a husband do the fair share of raising the kids, organising the house, cleaning etc and the list goes on however when their is a husband or partner there is the option of the mum getting a break. Solo parenting is harder than people think as you are discovering however society still thinks all solo parents are second class citizens. I would way rather be married and have my family together however I value myself as a person and couldn't put up with constant affairs and drinking so had to end it which was heart breaking for me because I wanted to be married to one person and have my family together. I know that I am better off without him and very glad we are not married any more however it made me a single parent 24/7 and it's tough. I love my kids more than anything and they know that. My friends say that they couldn't do it and don't know how I do it. My reply to them is "I don't get a choice, you just have to do it". Having one parent at home instead of two is really half of what families should have which means the one half left is doing double the work. It does get exhausting that's for sure but I get all the cuddles and kisses I want. Kathy

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  14. Your post took me back in time. There was a time where I parented one, and then two children on my own every second week. With no family in the same state as myself. It can be exhausting, and draining. So important Jodi for you to take care of yourself during this time. If you're feeling good, then your day will flow so much nicer, and you can handle all those curve balls, tantrums and dinner hours with more grace and ease. If a day starts shit, tends to stay that way sometimes!!! We live in a remote town now (18 months left on our contract). My youngest has not been that good a sleeper, and if you're not getting sleep then you can't parent well on your own. Hence why we're now living in the middle of nowhere!!
    Goodluck for the rest of your time on your own. Hope you have more good days then bad xx

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  15. i think you are doing a phenomenal job Jodi. i am sure it must be so hard but again, i think you are doing great!

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  16. Oh I feel for you Jodi! My husband worked remotely when first had our baby, so i was functioning as a single parent with a newborn for a couple months, so tough! I have crazy respect for single parents now. And I couldn't agree with your advice more. Who knows how many bottles of dry shampoo I went through haha! I can't imagine doing this with two kids. Stay strong! You're amazing!

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  17. Ji Jodi, it's wonderful that you share all this, the ups and the downs of parenting. I learn a lot through your experience and beautiful words.
    Lots of warm thoughts from far far away.

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  18. It's great that you're working through this in your own way and being realistic with your emotions and struggles Jodi! I for one would never ever ever let Jesse leave home for that long, haha! Thankfully his career is not going that direction, we've only spent two nights apart max in our almost 4 years of marriage, and right now are working to make working from home even more accessible, but this is something that has always been our goal as a family, to be at home together. Regardless, it is commendable the sacrifice you are making for his career to advance and I am amazed, I don't think I would be able to do anything close to what you are doing! Much love to you!

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  19. Jodi, thanks so much for your wisdom and honesty! Your advice is now written on my wall because even though some of it seems obvious, it's the most common sense things that we forget when the crazy comes...

    You're the best, gracious or not. I hope YOU have a wonderful day today (and get into bed before 10pm!)

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  20. The relentless slog of parenting can get us all down some days, regardless of circumstance. It's hard missing your fella, that's the hardest bit of all. Sending you much love and sanity and a big old cuddle, Jodi. x

    PS - Does sacrifice always bring rewards? I'm not sure that's true at all. Sometime we sacrifice selflessly, knowing we might never be rewarded. Or maybe they just take a very long time coming sometimes!?

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    1. No, I don't think it does. But it's a source of comfort on days that are really hard....so I'm going with it for now x

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  21. I have been a single mother to my four and half year old from the day she was born. I don't know any other way and so just do it. It's exhausting and relentless, but so many women (and some men) do it and do it well. The lesson I have learned is that maintaining self-care is the only way to survive and thrive. I get very few breaks from my daughter, but the two things that keep me still and centred are my weekly yoga class and spending time in nature. Take care, Fiona

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  22. This rings so true...my husband rarely travels but is getting ready for a job change that could mean 40% travel for him. I'm a WAHM with toddler twins, and when he has been gone, challenge + sacrifice is right, oh boy. But yes, even though some days were shit, most left me feeling empowered. I'm not sure that will ring true for an extended period of time...so this gives me hope. Thanks for sharing!

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  23. Yes! :: recently single mama here :: ''take it one hour at a time'' ''simple'' ''lower your expectations'' - do what you need to do to get through each day... Thanks for sharing your experience x

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  24. Beautiful post and your photos are gorgeous. This mummy gig is hard work isn't it! I take my hat off to those doing it solo full time. My hubby works shift work so one week out of 3 it's me to do the nighttime routine, by the end of that week a big glass of wine always looks lovely :D
    Jan x

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  25. Hang in there honey! It's so full on. Thismakes appreciate hubby walking in the door every night , no matter how late it is.

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  27. oh boy i hear you! stick it out (as if you have any choice!) and keep smiling! just think of us SMS mamas when days get tough, we do night time as well with our angels, tilly is often up for 22 hour days as she doesn't sleep so the crazy hour sometimes doesn't stop here! now if you had asked me 8 years ago, before i had even had children or heard of smith magenis syndrome, i would had said never ever ever could i do it, but often magic is at the end of these crazy journeys! who is on the biggest journey i wonder, you or hubby? Thinking of you often, i know we have never met and live miles apart but this blog world is strange you end up feeling like you know people! i remain in awe of your vision and creativity and parenting! rock it.....even when you cry in the fruit shop. love from a mama who knows well what stetched feels like x xxxx

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