I don’t think about it all that often and certainly not every day, but from time to time it hits me – how many different roles I play as a single parent.
I know it’s not as bad some days as it is others. And I also know that parents who are married also have to fill a number of roles.
But the other day it hit me when I found myself wearing what felt to be approximately 10,000 different hats in about a two-hour period. Maybe it happens more often than I think, but on this particular afternoon, it really caught my attention. I went from college professor to father to marketer to concerned father to negotiator to cook and a few things in between.
I was at school, finishing up my teaching and office duties for the day. I got home with my son, which almost always leads to an interesting conversation. (“Why are only purebred dogs allowed in the dog shows?” Where does he get these questions? And where, I ask you in a pleading voice, can I find the answers? If there was just some way I could install Google inside my head . . . )
Once home, it was time for an after-school snack, which usually involves something that would make me gain weight and a glass of milk. Then we got started on getting Valentine’s Day cards ready for his class party.
While he was working on that, I took out a Proof from a printer for a brochure I’m working on. I was looking over the proof, marking a few areas of concern, when my daughter came in and we talked about what to have for supper. Usually that involves either eating out or something frozen, but on this day, I was actually going to cook something. Something mostly healthy, too.
So we decided on a meal, and she had to go somewhere. But just a few seconds later, she was back in the house, and very upset.
She had been in an accident just in front of our house. (She was fine, but the car . . . not so much). In the next few minutes, I found myself comforting her, talking to two people simultaneously on my cell phone and home phone (please don’t ask how I did it, or even what I said to them), and then talking to someone else who had come by. This was all after we had spoken to the driver of the other vehicle.
And yet somehow I found myself very calm through the whole experience. In fact, it seemed that the more things that happened, the calmer I became. After my daughter finally went to run her errand, I found myself back to my normal routine – I was helping my son finish up Valentine cards and I was cooking supper.
Of course, that’s assuming that I (or any parent for that matter) ever has a normal routine.
I think the main thing to remember is that no matter how many hats you find yourself wearing on any given day, to remember which hat is most important – and that’s your hat as a parent. Most of the time our kids aren’t going to remember what happened as much as they’re going to remember how we reacted to what happened.
And that’s an important hat to wear every day of the year.