Solo

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I went solo.

When my husband told me he had two back to back work courses down in Porirua, I took in the news as though it were no big deal.

As April approached, the thought of two weeks began to loom over my head. They were there when Olly got up in the night to the baby, every time he fed Ashton breakfast and every time he changed his nappy. Those two weeks grew more daunting every time Olly came home from work with a wide smile that said “Daddy’s here now. Let’s give mum some time out.”

See, I have never struggled with Olly and his parent duties. The man just doesn't complain! Even more so, if he sees that something needs to be done, he just does it.

I’m blessed and I know it. Although he’ll probably be the first to tell you he’s not perfect, in fact you may remember my blog post about just how annoying an over-attentive dad can be too. But with that being said, there’s one thing about Olly that really, truly, absolutely just SUCKS.

When he leaves it hurts. Big time.

So, when the time finally came for him to leave, I felt like it would be forever.

We’d all had the cold (again) and although I was finally recovering, poor little Ashton wasn’t. He still had streams of snot coming out his nostrils every two seconds, as well as a nasty cough. We were housebound again and we were alone. I was going crazy.

I couldn’t believe how long the days stretched on, or how one day just seemed to mash into another and then into another. It was to keep the house clean and keep my baby entertained without losing my patience. I couldn’t believe how much I just wanted my baby to sleep. He wasn't tired at all, I just wanted a moment of blissful silence and I was so used to Olly coming home and giving me a damn break.

We had the parent routine down! We knew the steps so well it was like dancing together but separately. I took the baby, he took the baby. I cooked dinner, he did the dishes. I distracted Ashton while he changed him into his pjs. We were like clockwork.

Now I had lost my dance partner, but I still had to complete all the steps.

Here’s the stupidest confession of all – even though Olly was gone, I still had SO much support. My mum cooked me dinner every night and both my parents offered to look after Ashton whenever I needed a little break. One night I went out and saw a movie with my mum gang and I even went to a job interview (but more on that later!). Still, for some reason I felt like I was drowning in a big sea of never-ending baby-problems. I still felt I was dancing on my own (and I wasn't very good either).

I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. That’s not what this is about. 

There are people (perhaps even reading this) that do what I did for two weeks, for YEARS, for their whole parenting journey, in fact.

If that is you, here’s a shout out. I have MAJOR respect for you.

To all those parents whose partners work mega long hours and don’t get home till after 7pm, just so they can keep things a float, MEGA respect for you, another shout out.

Can I encourage you singles mamas (and daddas) that whatever you’re doing and however you’re doing it, if your children are happy and healthy you're doing great. It doesn’t matter if you’re working a full-time job or if your kids are in school or high school or full-time care. MATE, you’re doing this when so many of us (like myself) feel ourselves cracking after a few days. You’re doing it. YOU.

How strong you are, how courageous, how freakin’ awesome.

And to the partners that do come home to a grumpy baby and a stressed out wife – I hope you know that you are valued, even if we don’t say it as much as you need to hear it.

We love that you come home from a busy working day to spend time with your family. But your breaks are just as important as ours. Set some time aside for your stuff too, even if it means drawing up a weekly plan with your partner and vowing to stick to it.

I’m a little ashamed to say it, but I had never really considered how hard and lonely motherhood could be. My husband was always home at 3pm, ready to take the child off my hands. No matter how hard my day was, it was 3pm before I knew it and he was back. I could breathe.

When he was back at last, I had a fresh perspective for all the hard work he puts in as a husband. I just wanted to keep hugging him. I squeezed him so tightly that it felt I was never going to let him go out of my sight again.

Then I remembered I had a Girl’s night booked, so within minutes I wandered out the door and left him to put the baby to sleep! How’s that for contradictory?

That's the thing, he's not just my dance partner. He’s like my business partner and husband and father-of-my-child all rolled into one!

With all that in mind, I can honestly say that I love that man even more than the day we got married. Just when I thought it wasn’t possible.

Don't let me put you wrong, Olly still takes time out to gym, go for runs, and catch up on sports games and highlights. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that! He needs that time.

He needs to have his own time, just as much as he needs time with us.

So if you’ve got a good one, keep them close. Communicate. Be honest. Let them takeover. Let them step back. Do this crazy two-step dance of parent-life together.

You’ll have the steps down before you even know it.

Rachel Chen