There’s been a lot of ink spilled about single parenthood in my lifetime. As the number of single parent households went through the roof, a lot of people felt the need to lend them as much moral support as possible. So, for the last few decades we’ve seen a steady stream of odes to single parents — how hard they work, how much they sacrifice for their kids, stuff like that.
There are many cases where that’s true, and those parents deserve all the praise and support we can give them. But we spend so much time talking about how great single parents are, I’m afraid we give short shrift to the fact that having two parents is pretty great too.
This occurred to me during some recent vacation time with my family. I’m an educated man, a good problem solver, fairly calm in pressure situations, in good physical shape, with an upbeat disposition. And I could no more travel by myself with a two-year-old and a four-year-old than I could defuse a bomb while landing a jet plane on a carrier deck at night. Our road trip was one, long prayer of thankfulness by me for my wife.
She packed new movies for the kids to watch in the car. She put fresh batteries in their headphones. When they both wanted the same snack, she was ready. When they wanted different snacks, she was ready for that too. She was ready to tend to every need of a couple of people who need a lot of needs tended to.
That’s an incredible blessing when you’re traveling with small children, and it’s the kind of preparation that neither of us would have had time for if we were working alone.
That’s the key: time. You can love your kids a lot, and sacrifice for them a lot, but there is no substitute for time. Two parents working together can manufacture time. It sounds miraculous, but it’s true. And that’s the gift we can give our kids, and each other, that will matter when we look back on our lives together.
For single parents who are making the best of it, I admire your efforts. But for everyone who’s thinking of starting a family, I highly recommend that you do it with someone who is loyal and loving, who is in it for the long haul, and who can pour milk into a sippy cup in a moving car.