Residual “Single Parent Mode”

Funny story.

Isn’t it great how many times we say that out loud when regaling our friends with tales that are… well… less than funny?

Anyway, it was a busy weekend in the Varland house. We saw Iron & Wine at the Taft on Friday, shot a wedding in Bloomington, and saw Novo Amor in Indianapolis on Sunday. It was a really fun weekend, except for the stomach bug that’s been hitting me on and off for a week.

This weekend it hit just as we were sitting down for a quick bite before the concert in Indianapolis. Yeah – in Indianapolis – a full 2 hour drive from home. Really not the place you want to find out that the stomach bug never really left. 🤦🏻‍♀️

I was miserable. I couldn’t eat anything. I couldn’t get comfortable. I just felt nauseous and gross and… well, you get it. Anyway, despite it being an AMAZING concert, we left early to start the drive back home. I prayed. A lot. I mean it wasn’t super awful – not even close to as bad as the people in those videos on YouTube where the driver has to go to the bathroom is literally squirming in his or her seat. (If you haven’t seen any of those and need a good laugh, they’re hysterical.) Having said that, I for sure was asking God to just get me home. Thankfully, he did.

As we pulled into the driveway, I thought all was well. Then we guided our sleepy kids inside and found that Noah didn’t have sheets on his bed. (We have our kids wash their sheets every weekend and he hadn’t put the clean sheets back on yet.) I had been really looking forward to taking a deep breath and trying to calm down whatever awfulness had taken up residence in my stomach and that came to a screeching halt. The inside of me let out an internal scream, but the mom in me sprang into action. I had to wait. I had to power though. I had to make sure Noah was taken care of.

Then Toby walked into Noah’s room, took over, and sent me to just take care of myself with a simple, “I’ve got it covered.”

I don’t know about you guys, but I know what it’s like to be a single parent. It’s HARD. Like really hard. You may have some people that help you, but most of the time you feel totally alone in the trenches, battling every day as it comes at you. There are no breaks. There isn’t “me time”. There is only living every waking moment in a constant state of stress and doing the best that you can. That’s it.

I realized in that moment in Noah’s room as Toby smiled and took the clean sheet out of my hands that I’m living with some residual “single parent mode”. I don’t like leaning on anyone. It makes me feel weak. A deep-rooted longing to be self-sufficient instead of trusting someone to have my back is a habit that I fell into during the years Toby and I were separated. I still hate asking people for anything to the point where I have a physical reaction when I have to do it. It’s a really hard habit to shake.

Marriage isn’t perfect. Not for me, not for anyone. We all have good days and bad days and that’s ok. But my auto-mode can and should be set to “teamwork mode”, not “single parent mode”. No matter what else is going on in life, knowing that I don’t have to do it alone is a good thing. And that’s something I don’t think I will ever take for granted.

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