Parenting for Two: Single Parent During Deployment?

Here are the 5 hardest things about being a good parent.
*Disclaimer- I wrote this from the point of view of a wife/mother. I am very aware and acknowledge that men are in the same boat as us when they are the civilian spouse, but all of my experience comes from being a wife/mother surrounded by wives/mothers as that my husband is in an all male MOS. For the purpose of this article, when I use “single mom” I am also referring to the single dads.*

It was early 2005, around the middle of February. My infant daughter was running a fever, and I’d had to drive the hour and a half home from work in the middle of the day to pick her up from the sitter early. After some rocking and singing (and a popsicle because, as it turned out, she was only teething), she finally fell asleep. I called my dad while she slept on a blanket on the living room floor. We chatted for a time, talked about the weather (because even though 65 degrees is freezing cold in Twenty Nine Palms, apparently it gets colder in North Carolina) and then we discussed my husband’s deployment and how I was coping alone with the baby.

“I just feel like a single parent, ya know?” I’d said to him.

“Except that whole part about where you have a husband?” my dad flippantly asked. End of discussion.

A few years later, a few permanent duty stations later, a few kids later and in the beginning stages of my husband’s fourth combat deployment, I heard a wife address the concept of being a “single mom” during deployment.

“I am not a single mom, and neither are any of you,” she’d insisted rather emphatically. “Our husbands provide for us; we don’t have to go out and work twelve, sixteen hour days in order to afford insurance and food for our kids. That’s what single mom’s do.” That brief declaration stuck with me, and I spent a lot of time thinking about the differences.

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