After over two years of home ownership without a partner and single parenting (By which I mean that when I’m with my boys, I’m the only parent with them. My ex-husband single parents as well.), I’ve discovered tasks that just shouldn’t be done alone. I realize they can be performed solo, but, in my opinion, they’re better done (or at least less painful) with a partner. Here’s my list:
1) Children’s birthday celebrations. Ordering the pizza, preparing the food, cleaning the house (even with help from one of the kids), lighting the candles, distributing cake and ice cream, cleaning up spills, and mediating disputes between children way too sugared up tops my list of jobs needing two. Or maybe needing four. I’m recovering from a pretty successful soiree with 13 kids of assorted ages and four adults. That ratio worked. Mostly. Alone would just be insane.
2) Rearranging furniture. Okay, the kitchen table and chairs are doable by a petite woman and an even more petite 13-year-old, but we’re pretty useless when stairs are involved in a move. Thus furniture trapped on floors where I no longer want it until another set of arms (generally bigger than the two of us combined) comes along. Thank goodness for friends who are larger than I am.
3) Applying for a mortgage/refinancing. Okay, so this one is physically possible, but the data gathering could put a person over the edge. Trips to the bank for signed statements, calls to the mortgage company, document gathering — yuck. Definitely pain that should be shared.
4) Interior design. Okay, some of you may disagree with me on this one, but I really don’t like to pick out furniture and paint colors on my own. Window treatment choices leave me cold even before the obscene prices are considered. I like to decorate with a partner, if for nothing else to make sure I don’t pick anything too scary. It’s also convenient when experiencing buyers’ remorse. (“Hey, I didn’t pick that migraine-inducing upholstery. That was his choice.” )
5) Car ownership. Now I just sound wimpy, and perhaps I am. I know little about the workings of my automobile. I know when to get the oil changed (about 3,000 miles ago) and the number to the dealership. Even with a cell phone in hand, I worry about being stranded with the beast. Buying a new car alone leaves me cold, however (those choices again), so I’d better take care of the one I have.
6) Home ownership. My home is 83 years old. A remarkable number of things can go wrong in a home that old, although I think homes of any age are best owned by two, or, like birthday parties, perhaps by four. Sure, the windows, roof, and furnace are newer, but something always seems to be falling apart. My older and I are moderately handy. Okay, kinda handy. Well, we know generous, handy people.
7) Parenting. I didn’t enter parenting as a single parent (see note at the top for clarification of that term), and I never intended to be alone for large chunks of it. Even happily married, it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. Admittedly, some bits are easier alone: I’m the final authority in the house (at least in my mind), and there are no parent-to-parent conflicts over immediate parenting issues. But it’s exhausting emotionally to be the only parent day and night. The child-free times when the boys are at their dad’s offer some respite, but I’d prefer a more traditional approach.
I love my boys, appreciate my home and car, and cope quite well on my own. Well, on my own with a little help from my friends. I’m far from lonely, quite fulfilled, and occasionally overwhelmed. And, yeah, it’s so much more friendlier (and often easier) with two.