So for nearly the past week, I have been the sole parent in the household with my two sons: Micah 3 ½ and Kasen 9 months. My wife Heather has training for a new job out of town, and thus the responsibility for this week of child-rearing responsibility fell to me, alone. I saw this as both a challenge and an opportunity for me to be DAD. So what follows are my reflections of the week.
1. People are not used to a dad watching the kids by himself for a week.
“Oh, you are watching them all by yourself!” “Are you surviving this week?” These are the statements that I have heard this week. If I was mom watching the kids by myself for a week, then they would not garner the sympathy or attention I have because it is expected of moms to be able to raise kids by themselves, but not dads as a general rule.
2. If I didn’t participate in taking care of my boys on a daily basis, then I would have been totally unprepared to do it this week.
Because I have helped get the kids ready for the day, made meals, fed bottles, read stories, and gave baths for the last 3 ½ years this was not as overwhelming as it could have been. The deciding factor for me on when to have kids was this simple fact: I wanted to learn to be a dad before I became a Pastor, so that my pastoral life would adjust to my life as dad and not the other way around. Thus Micah and Kasen did not interrupt my ministry (this week or in general), but sometimes ministry interrupts my time as Dad.
3. I’m grateful for those that have prayed for me.
I know that our families and our church families have been in prayer for me and the boys during this week. I know that God has worked through those prayers giving me patience with the boys and through the kids giving grace to their dad.
4. Putting 2 kids to bed is a workout.
This was my Tuesday night. Put Kasen down for a nap. Start cooking dinner. Eat dinner. Feed Kasen. Don’t do any dishes. Play with boys. Give Kasen bath. Get Kasen in PJs. Get bottle ready for Kasen. Make sure Micah feels loved. Feed Kasen. Rock Kasen. Lay him down and pray he falls asleep (He did). Get bath ready for Micah. Give him bath. Help him brush teeth and go potty. Play in his room. Read stories. Go potty. Tell him a story. Check on Kasen sleeping. Tell story. Go potty again. Give strict orders to lie down, be quiet, and still. Go potty again. Tell story. Threaten toys taken away if he doesn’t lay still. Pump fist when he finally falls asleep. Sit down in chair and look at the mound of dishes and toys scattered across the floor. Call wife and share about our day. Walk past the dishes and step over toys on the way to bed because I’m so exhausted.
5. My church family is awesome.
I know that if I needed someone to watch Micah or Kasen, I could have called 20 people to help me. They give our boys such love. The youth love watching them, and I don’t tell them thank you enough. The ladies in our church are so glad to see Kasen and Micah grow, and I am so thankful. When we have a church activity, all of the adults feel some sort of responsibility to make sure that “our” Micah does mostly what he is supposed to. If you don’t have the love of a church family, I pray that you can find the loving home like we do.
6. I miss my wife.
I miss my wife on many levels. I miss her help, obviously, with raising the boys. There is a reason God desires a husband and a wife to raise a kid because the kids need it, and the parents need each other. Not just to share child-rearing responsibilities, but also to be there in support for one another, to share the joys and the laughs together. To have an adult conversation in the midst of talk about Spiderman house, cries, and potty is a blessing.
7. Continuous sleep is a gift from God.
Kasen has been getting up at 3:00 A.M. or 4:00 A.M. for a bottle. This morning he slept till 7:30. I felt 10,000% better today than I did yesterday.
8. I have tremendous respect for single parents.
My experience is 6 days. Before my wife left, I went to the store and stocked up for the week. I know Heather is coming back soon. I know that if I don’t get all the dishes or laundry done that we can work together to do it. I know my wife will take a night shift soon so I can get the gift of continuous sleep again. Single parents don’t have that luxury. Love the single parents around you, and find ways to serve and love them. Give them grace, from my experience they have to be exhausted, and I always need extra grace when I’m exhausted.