How the hell am I going to do this?
No really, how the hell am I going to raise three young kids without Shawn? There’s literally a decade left before I send the first one to college, and I really don’t know what I’m doing right now, much less how I’m going to figure it out in the future. Some days, it just feels damn near impossible to know how to parent alone.
Take tonight. I took the kids out with friends for a fun kid-themed dinner at a Japanese steakhouse. There was entertainment and the kids were all so excited. But I couldn’t even get through the appetizer before I noticed how much my daughter was clearly overwhelmed. This happens, sometimes, as she has a food allergy and new restaurants make her nervous. But tonight she just couldn’t take it. We had to leave the restaurant and come home.
She was upset – first, because the new restaurant was overwhelming for her, but second, because she was worried that she had ruined my night. I reassured her that she hadn’t ruined my night and that I was happy to come home any time that she needed to. I want to push her to try new things, but I understand her fear of food, as I also have a food allergy.
Still, it’s hard. It’s hard to know that I’m the only one who’s going to be able to take her home. Before, that job was Shawn’s. He always took one for the Brimley family team, and he was happy to sit at home with whoever needed to be there. I guess I didn’t realize how often that was, and how disruptive it would be to my own life when I had to take over that role.
And then when I’m home with whichever kid is sick or frustrated or tired, I feel this intense sadness come over me. It’s happened each and every time I’ve had to bring one of my kids home early from some event or activity. In those moments, I feel Shawn’s loss so deeply.
We were supposed to do this together, dammit. That’s what partners mean. Together. Forever. The two of us verses the world.
We were supposed to share the shitty moments. The truly terrible ones, the ones that would maybe even make us fight with each other because neither of us wanted to do what we had to do. Those moments were supposed to be shared. If we were crappy parents, at least we were supposed to be crappy parents together.
The moment where my daughter looked at me and said that she was scared and sad and frustrated – that moment was supposed to be one where we both tried to find the right words to comfort her. It’s not supposed to be just me, all the time, always.
It took everything in me tonight to get her to bed. As I tried to calm her down by talking softly and brushing her hair, she said that sometimes when she goes into a new restaurant, she feels really nervous because she just doesn’t know what kind of food they have there.
I told her I understood, and that it’s a pretty normal thing to feel that way, especially if you have a food allergy. Then, for some reason I can’t explain, I decided to tell her about what was really hard for me.
“You know what makes me nervous when I go into restaurants?” I asked her.
She shook her head.
“Going in without Daddy makes me nervous because it makes me sad. It’s hard for me to do.” I started to cry a little bit.
She hugged me. And then I sat with her until she fell asleep.
I wish there was some perfect ending to this post, some beautiful something that I could write here to tie everything up. But when I put her to bed, I just felt so alone. Because now, in those moments, it’s just me verses the world.
And that makes me really nervous.
Image Credit: Stefanie Harrington Photography.