I am not a single parent. I am a solo parent.
It was only a few months after Erik’s passing that I was out of town. Everything during this time was still painful. Waking up, breathing, pretending to smile, existing – it was all so painful. I was on my way to the airport to catch my next flight when I got a call about Charlotte. She was taken to the hospital the night before for what seemed to be a fever from an ear infection. The call was to tell me that it was worse than we had thought and that Charlotte would need surgery as soon as possible, yet all I could hear was the voice in my head saying ‘How could you not be by her side right now?’ over and over again. My stomach dropped listening to this doctor from the hospital explain to me the surgery in a bunch of medical words I didn’t understand. When the call was over I rushed to the ticket counter to change my flight back home begging to get onto any next flight out of Chicago to make it in time for my baby girl’s surgery. I remember this exact moment. This moment of standing in the crowded atmosphere of one of the busiest airports and seeing everything move and shuffle around me, yet I stood frozen with an excruciating knot in my stomach; I reached for the phone to call my dead husband. This was the first time I realized how alone I was in this parenting journey. There I was. It was just me. Because I was now a solo parent. And a solo parent to twins.
Solo parenting means more than just not having your partner to ‘tag in’. It means the full mental, emotional, and financial weight of raising children now rested solely on my shoulders. It means that every decision that needed to be made was on me. There was no co-parent to debate or help me decide which path to choose. It means there is no one to share the blame when things go wrong, or to celebrate the victories when things go right. It means I am the only person standing between me and my children and whatever storm comes at us. It means at any given moment I am overtly aware of the fact that if I get hurt or sick, they will be left completely alone. I am it. I am the last parent standing.
I am all they have. Those agonizing words constantly go through my head on a daily basis. I am all they have. They will never have their dad back. Charlotte will never have her first date with Dad. She will never have him walk her down the aisle. Wyatt will never get those father/son talks that Erik was so excited about; all the things he wanted to teach and share with his son from his experiences. And as much as I wish I could fill this space for them, I could never fill his shoes. I can give them twice as much, even when I feel half as capable, but I will never be able to fill the role of Dad for them. This means they only get me, when they should have gotten us.
Update on Charlotte’s ear journey: Last week the ENT cleared her for all things dealing with her ears since June of 2022, which started with that hospital visit. It has been over a year of ups and downs and constantly thinking we would get a clean bill of health only to have the rug pulled from under us. Being a solo parent paired with a child being sick feels like having your stomach punched over and over yet not being able to take a breath in between. But Thursday of last week I went back in my car after her appointment and I cried. I cried happy tears for her making it through everything she had to endure, I cried sad tears for every moment of Charlotte’s strength that Erik missed and I cried tears of relief for everything I had overcome, mostly as a solo parent. I will take that as a win.
From after the surgery June 2022 to after the ENT appointment July 2023.