I knew my daughter would bust me.
I just didn’t realize she was going to do it so quickly – or so coldly.
“Dad didn’t do anything when you were gone,” she blurted out matter-of-factly, mere minutes after my wife returned home after a four-day work conference in Tennessee.
That hurt. Almost as much as the wicked glare I shot my 12-year-old daughter as soon as my wife turned away.
Didn’t do anything?
Didn’t do anything?!?!
To say I didn’t do anything might be a bit of an exaggeration, I muttered (or something to that effect) in a feeble attempt to defend myself.
After all, who made sure to hide all the evidence and put all the take-out boxes outside in the recycling bin before mom got home?
Me, that’s who.
And who did all the laundry? Well, wait… No. Nevermind. Scratch that.
Um. Who did… all the floors? No, no. Forget that too.
OK. So I’ll admit it. I didn’t do much in terms of housework for the five days my wife was gone.
But to say I didn’t do anything is ludicrous!
In typical dad fashion, I view my weekend accomplishments as nothing short of a miracle!
Dads, back me up here.
The fact that I managed to juggle two extremely busy days at work, five baseball games, one badminton practice, one pre-teen dance, one sleepover, one birthday and one play date – all while keeping my sanity (relatively) intact must earn me some sort of parenting medal.
All kidding aside, the real miracle is that there are thousands of single parents in our community who do this – and much more – every single week.
In Canada, there are more than 1.6 million lone-parent families as of 2016 – and that number is on the rise. And of those, about eight in 10 were female lone-parent families.
And in the U.S., out of about 12 million single-parent families in 2016, more than 80 per cent were headed by single mothers.
I tip my hat to every single one of them.
Because while I jest about my four hectic days as a lone parent, recent statistics are no laughing matter.
A 1996/1997 Stats Can study found that working lone mothers have the highest levels of time-stress compared to all other demographic groups.
Compared to the general population, lone mothers have higher rates of chronic illness, disability days, activity restrictions, and are three times more likely to visit health care professionals about their mental and emotional health.
They all have my respect.
And not to be overlooked are all the incredibly supportive grandmas, grandpas, uncles and aunties of the world who are always willing to offer a helping hand or take the kids when mom or dad need a break.
(By the way, thanks, grandma, for doing a last-minute run to the airport.)
The African proverb is right.
It truly takes a village.
Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org