An absentee partner is not the same as no partner at all.
Single parenting is different.
I know, I've done both.
For the first 15 months of Gabriel's life, his father and I were together, under one roof, supporting one household.
K was gone for three weeks out of the month, traveling for work.
Gabriel spent a minimum of 6 hours a day howling inconsolably for the first 6 months of his life.
Gabriel underwent major, in-hospital surgery when he was 5 months old.
I was a full time graduate student, and I took no time off when Gabriel was born (on the second day of the semester, during which I was enrolled in three classes).
I didn't have a car.
I lived hours away from any family or friends.
I was overburdened and networkless and adrift in the sea of postpartum confusion.
But that wasn't single parenting.
And I want to tell you something.
Single parenting is harder.
When your partner travels for work, your partner is providing financially for your household.
And it's your household, with your supervision and standards and quirks and ideas.
I am the sole financial provider as well as the sole parent.
I work because I have to and I mother because I have to and I'm not saying that I don't love both because I adore my son to pieces and I treasure my independence.
I work all day, I come home, and I parent until it's time to go back to work again.
I'm the one up at 1 and 3 and 5am with bad dreams and requests for water and night terrors, and then I'm right back up at 530 for work, juggling my own career with preschool and swim lessons and birthday parties and doctor's visits.
I stay home when my son is sick, but I do that as the only paycheck to buoy the accounts.
I spend my time trying to form this small person, trying to make sure that he will be a good, strong, happy adult.
And then woooosh.
He's at his dad's house for the weekend.
And that's even harder.
And I have no control over what they do or say or don't do or don't say.
I don't make the rules, I don't know the adults, I have no oversight.
I go from 100% on, round-the-clock, scrambling and doing the best I can, to 100% off and just....floating.
And I have to be okay with that.
This small person with the blue blue eyes, he has another parent in his father, and his father has a right to raise his son.
And it's harder.
It's harder, it's harder, it's harder.
It's harder to single parent than it is to parent with a partner who's married to his work.
I'm happier here and now than I ever could be there and then, but they aren't the same and it's hard to express but single parenting is harder.