By Linda Grant
Conceptually, I knew what I was getting into when I made the decision to adopt a child on my own without family nearby for support. But not until I was in the throes of the day-to-day care of an infant, did I realize how hard single motherhood really is. There is no middle-of-the-night solidarity with a partner when Baby won’t sleep, no other breadwinner in the family to head off for work the next morning, no grandma or auntie to babysit for a few hours so Mommy can rest. Or take a shower. Or make dinner.
But even with long hours of work on little sleep, having to schlep an infant and her gear up three flights of stairs every afternoon, endless diapers, spit-up, worry… it was all surmountable because at the end of the day, I could enjoy my baby. My little bundle of love (and my love for that little bundle) helped me rise above the many challenges.
As a single parent I learned quickly to really appreciate the special moments. I never missed the chance to chaperone preschool field trips or make birthday cupcakes. Later, I cherished the walks to school every day, because it was our special time to chat.
Now that my daughter is in middle school (and morning walks together are no more), it’s all about dinners together at home.
The importance of family dinners was instilled in me by my own parents who made sure my siblings and I ate with them every night so we could each share our day’s happenings.
The look of my family’s dinner table was laid-back and casual, but, even though it’s just the two of us, I prefer to set our table with cloth napkins, placemats, and the good china.
Or maybe it’s because it’s just the two of us. Because when I was growing up, our dinners were filled with the banter and bickering of my siblings and parents. But it’s harder for healthy conversation to sprout from just one parent and a child than it is for family of five. A family of only two needs a bit more fanfare.
So, in addition to making a festive table, I also set out a bowl full of fun questions. This way we can share our day and my daughter doesn’t have to endure an “inquisition” and the incessant “how was school?” question.
The bowl holds questions like: What was the “funnest” part of your day? What song is your favorite this week? What was your favorite show growing up? (That’s for me.) I always add new ones so we are never at a loss for conversation. Of course, a question might send us off on a tangent, but that’s the point! It’s all about communicating, and sharing…as a family…which is exactly what our little twosome is.
The meaning of “family” is varied – especially in our modern world. But regardless of your own personal definition, family is always about love and support and savoring those cherished moments of laughter and conversation forever.
Linda Grant writes a blog called NYC Single Mom and is excited to be part of the #HowWeFamily campaign promoting its positive message about families. Get connected by visiting the official site of #HowWeFamily. Use the #HowWeFamily hashtag on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to show how YOU family.
Disclosure: I have received information and materials from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. the makers of TYLENOL. The opinions stated are my own.