Mike is away for the weekend. I am a single parent. That thought; single parenting Braden, used to bring such feelings of fear and anxiety, that I could barely handle thinking about it. Now…Well, it’s still hard, but it is definitely doable.
Raising Braden means someone has to be “on” 100% of the time. When he was younger, he had so much energy; he would just run nonstop; run around the house, run outside, jump on the trampoline, run to the neighbor’s swingset, run…run…run.
His favorite activity was literally running around our house…The actual house. So, Mike and I
devised a plan. Mike would sit in the backyard with his computer so he could work. I would sit in the front yard with my books, as I was getting my Masters degree in Special Education at the time, and study. We both were armed with walkie-talkies.
“He’s yours,” Mike would say as Braden rounded the house.
“I’ve got my eye on him,” I’d exclaim. “He’s heading to the back now.”
And so on, and so on, until it was time to go inside.
These types of systems worked great when there were two of us to share the load. But when one of us had another commitment, life could become pretty difficult for the single parent left at home.
When Mike had to go away to speak at a conference or coach volleyball, I would go into a panic.
How will I entertain Braden?
What if he misbehaves in public?
What if he becomes violent?
We have had the most wonderful friends in every country we’ve lived in who have helped along the way. I remember emailing my good friends Eileen and Huguette a desperate email at one point. Braden had gotten upset out in public and started pulling my hair and kicking me. I managed to get him home, but I was so sad and had such anxiety about spending the next few hours with him, that I didn’t know what to do. Eileen, who lived 45 minutes away, hopped in her car and drove over. Huguette came over as well and helped clean my house while Eileen entertained Braden.
Time has certainly matured us all in our handling of Braden. We still love it most when there are two of us to hang out with Braden. Usually, that means we’re all hanging out together, but there are times when we say, “Tag…you’re it,” and take turns. I’ve been working a lot lately, so Mike has been a full-time dad, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
So this weekend, Mike’s in Indonesia presenting at a conference. I’m a single mom. When you’re raising a kiddo like Braden, there can be no down time, as that just agitates him. So here is what yesterday was for us:
9:30 Braden got up
9:45 Made pancakes for breakfast. He refused to eat them. Then he started perseverating on Coca Cola. We had 12 very small cans in the refrigerator. I told him he could have one. I can see when Braden is getting ready to get upset and start doing behaviors that are destructive, so it’s better to say he can have one than to deny him one.
10:15 Took dog for a walk
10:30 Tried to get Braden to play a video game- he managed for 15 minutes. I stupidly did not hide the cokes, so he went and grabbed another, and then another! While he was playing the video game, I hid the rest of them.
10:45 Braden started pacing around the house. I called my dad and Madison, and he sat with me while we chatted.
11:45 Took Braden on an 8 1/2 mile bike ride around the community.
1:00 Took Braden for a foot massage. He can relax during this time, so it’s a nice way to break up the day.
2:45 Tried to get Braden to relax a bit at home. He kept searching for the cokes, so I took him on a motor scooter ride for an hour.
3:45 Took Braden to the swimming pool.
5:30 Took Braden out to dinner.
7:30 Came home. Braden played Mario Kart for about 20 minutes and then watched iPad for about 10 minutes. Then he wanted to go to bed.
So, it’s not a bad day at all. It’s more a day that I consider myself to be on “High Alert” status. If there is any sign of agitation, we need to do something. Sitting is not an option. And that is okay. Any parents of young children know how this feels.
Mike comes home tomorrow. Braden, at 10:00 a.m this Sunday morning, is still in bed. And once again, I’m surrounded by wonderful people. My friend Kathy messaged me to say, “I know you want to go for a run. I’ll come by and hang out and watch Braden so you can.” What a gift!
Next weekend I will be a conference. On Friday afternoon, I will say to Mike, “Tag…you’re it.” All in good fun. We enjoy our time with our big guy, but we definitely prefer when we get to enjoy him…together.