Mom Wearing Lots of Hats

Lone Parent: The Wearer of Many Hats

by Tricia Wellington for


I arrived the year before childbirth classes became really popular. I understand that the morning I was born, my father dropped my mother off at the hospital and continued on to work. Mom stayed home with us until I was in junior high. Then, twenty-four years later, I was begging her to come and hold my hand in the delivery room. She left two weeks after I was released from the hospital, and I put on a few of the hats I’ve been wearing ever since.

I’m raising my daughter single-handedly. I want her to be self-sufficient, emotionally strong, assertive, and in-charge, with at least an idea of how to use a power drill and change a tire. Mom doesn't know how to do those things. Neither do I, but both are on my list of Knowledge I Must Acquire.
This is a helpful tool.

Looking out for myself alone would be simple. That I am now charged with ensuring the safety and comfort of another human being is a little scary—as any first-time parent faced with a feverish child knows.

There's no time to get sick, and I'm trying to become accustomed to doing things that take me out of my comfort zone. I am this household's all-around problem-solver, the Fixer of Broken Things, the Master of Clever Compromises, and the wearer of many, many hats. Just about everything we do at my house is now planned down to the n-th detail. Really, who goes anywhere spur-of-the-moment with the extra 330 lbs. of gear required to keep a toddler comfortable, amused and safe?

Now, I keep running into inflexible rules and outdated perceptions. Each time, I'm disappointed by them and a little surprised that they persist, given the prevalence of one-parent families. These serve as a reminder that of much of society is still structured to assume the presence of a second parent in households where there are children.

However, there are some really pleasant surprises too—well-thought-out baby-changing areas in unlikely places; customer service departments that don't make assumptions about the marital status of their women customers; and hotels that do a little extra to accommodate guests who arrive with babies. Have a look at this tasteful baby-friendly lodging in Boston.

Twenty-one months and nineteen baby teeth later, I have yet to master roundhouse kicks, and only vaguely understand what’s under the hood of my car. But when I close my eyes at night, I hope with all my heart that I’m presenting to the world a capable, responsible, compassionate little person whose "To Do" List will be a good deal less cluttered than mine.


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