My wife flew abroad for work this week so I was on full-time parents duty (as I sit here writing this, I feel particularly exhausted). She left on Sunday afternoon, and she’s finally back home, as of an hour or so ago (in time for Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sunset on Friday).
Being my daughter’s father is a dominant component of my identity; she’s constantly in my thoughts (to a healthy extent for a parent). However, when my wife is away and I’m single parenting, which occurs several times a year, my role as ‘Abba’chka’ (that’s my version of ‘Daddy’) occupies an even greater amount of my mind-space. Of course, this is partially a matter of logistics because there’s nobody else available to get her ready for school in the mornings and put her to bed at night; but it’s also psychological.
Incidentally, whenever we have a week like this, I find myself struck with awe at single parents; how do they manage this every single day?
Here in Israel, which is a country with many immigrants, it is not unusual for there to be families in which both parents were raised overseas; many an Israeli child grows up without any grandparents nearby. This, of course, means that when one parent is unavailable, all of the parenting responsibilities fall upon the other parent. (Although those who have the means can hire nannies or other forms of help.)
Anyway, when our daughter was several years younger, this was traumatic for her – she would cry and cry inconsolably over the absence of her mother, which, in turn, was very stressful for me. Now, at the age of 6⅔, she is capable of expressing her feelings without tears, and she’s gotten used to being with only one of her two parents for an extended time. Also, as she’s gotten older, her relationship with me has grown stronger (relative to her relationship with her mother, which used to be dominant), which also makes things easier for us.
The play date
In case you missed it, this week I wrote a poem about my daughter’s play date with a friend of her from class. Due to COVID-19 having erupted when it did, this was her first indoor play date in quite some time, which was quite lovely for her; but that was not the most significant aspect of the event.
Since I was single parenting this week, I was pleased to have those extra couple hours during her play date to run some errands, but the significance of this event also went beyond my personal convenience.
I’ve already mentioned the particularly welcoming nature of our school community on this blog, which is quite different than that of our daughter’s kindergarten last year. We find this to be profoundly encouraging and heartwarming.
Still, the changes have not only been in our daughter’s school environment. Our 6⅔-year-old is growing up, as I’ve noted above, and while she’s still emotionally dependent upon her parents, those ties are slowly beginning to unwind (in a good way).
After school that day, she was picked up by her friend’s mother and taken to her home (usually, I collect her after school), which she’d never been to before. The two girls played together for more than three hours so contentedly and so well, in fact, that I was instructed to give them an additional 30 minutes of play time before coming to collect her. And – even then, when I arrived, my daughter had absolutely no desire to go home – she was having too much fun.
This may, perhaps, seem a minor thing, but our little girl’s ability to enjoy herself in an entirely new setting for several hours without either of her parents is a new development; it’s quite a big deal.
It’s a wonderful thing to behold.