Young, single parents are nothing new. Sad to say, this is more prevalent now that one would like to think. However, it is not very often that you meet young, single dads, dads who are in their early to mid-twenties, raising kids without their kids’ mom by their side.
One of my colleagues is just that: a young single dad (YSD). He is in his mid-twenties, and already has a 10-year old son. Some of his choices early in life led to this present situation, but he is lucky to have parents and a support system that has helped him raise his son properly, while continuing with college and eventually earning a stable living without too much hassle.
Until recently, that is.
This pandemic has brought about lockdowns like nobody’s business, and because of that, son has had to continue school through distance learning, like all kids everywhere. Thus, YSD now has to sit in with son through all of his classes, as was recommended by the teacher, who recognizes that son needs more guidance for some of his subjects. In the past, grandma prepares son for school, and sees him off on the school bus, and is home in the afternoon to welcome son home from school. YSD only had to sit through homework, if needed, and spends time with son during the weekends, while he goes about his daily routine at his job. As YSD works the graveyard shift, this new development of having to wake up earlier than usual is, indeed, new to him.
Recently, his parents decided to travel to the province for All Soul’s Day, to visit and look after some business. This left child-rearing solely up to YSD, a first in his son’s 10 years on earth.
He has to go to the market, cook their meals, supervise home schooling, do the laundry and report for work in the evenings. I find it a bit funny to be swapping shared experiences regarding late dinners and running out for missing ingredients when the stores are about to close.
Halloween had him trying to figure out where to get a decent costume. I especially enjoyed his account of the meeting with teacher, him being the only dad present, where she gave specific suggestions about applying face paint or makeup, and him thinking where he would get some. He decided to get acrylic paint from the supermarket, and it was a good thing he mentioned this to us beforehand, or else who knows how long son would have to walk around with that stuff on this face?
I tell him he is lucky to have had to experience this now that his son is bigger and can take directions and can generally take care of himself. Those of us who have had to work while taking care of a baby or toddler know the hardship of not only physical fatigue, but also of emotional weariness, especially when you need to leave a child with sepanx (separation anxiety) because you need to work or finish chores.
I tell him he is lucky to have this time to spend alone with his son, as, soon enough, he will not have that luxury even though he forces it on him. He admits that he loses his temper more often these days, because he now sees everything that son does throughout the day; but this can be a good thing, if he can just tone down the irritation a bit, and spend time to make it a teachable moment, instead.
Though we would have liked that parents stay together for their kids, having to raise kids alone,like we do, is a reality that cannot be helped. I am just glad that young single dads, though not very common, get to experience child-rearing as any single mom would. Parenting, after all, is not just for moms. Let dads take their turn. It’s about time.
A bit late in the game, but welcome to the club, YSD!