I haven’t been able to keep up with the barrage of news coverage about Katie Couric’s jump to CBS. Frankly, the thing I’m most interested in is how the change will affect Katie’s two daughters. Morning anchors get up in the wee hours (in Katie’s case, it is 4 a.m., I believe), and since Katie is a single mom to two girls, that must add some extra stress to her sleep-deprived state.
I have a unique view of the life of a single parent. For the past 18 months, my husband and I have been sharing quarters my friend Robin and her daughter Riley. Robin and I first were roommates when I moved to New York in 1993. When I moved in, she was in her late 30s, and she warned me that she was thinking about getting pregnant. Sure enough, less than three years later she did just that and gave birth to Riley. I remember the day I helped them get home from the hospital: Our cab driver was incredibly nervous to have a newborn on board.
I moved out right before I got married, but the reason we are currently living together again is a function of the vagaries of the New York real estate market. My husband and I moved in with Robin and Riley just before my son Leo was born in an effort to purchase another apartment in the complex at a super-cheap price. Our current apartment is big (four bedrooms and two bathrooms), but with five people (plus my son’s nanny during the weekdays) it can get cramped quickly, especially if guests come over.
People are fascinated by our weird set up. Inevitably, we are asked about meals and whether we all eat together. (The answer is sometimes.) Other quirks: While we share the cost of household goods such as paper towels, we keep food separate. Thus, the right side of the fridge belongs to us, while Robin and Riley use the left. To speed up the getting-to-work process, Jon and I shower in the morning, while Robin and Riley shower at night.
As for the single parent part, Robin does a great job, but it’s tough. For the past two years, she’s been attending graduate school in an effort to become a school psychologist. She is changing careers from freelancing in the film industry to provide a more stable life (with healthcare benefits). Most of her classes are at night, which makes it especially hard to monitor Riley’s progress with homework. At the end of a long day, nothing makes Robin angrier than finding out that Riley forgot to do an assignment.
Mornings can be stressful, too. Since Robin has an internship, she’s out of the house at least 40 minutes before Riley needs to leave for school. For the past school year, Riley has used a morning check list of things to do to get ready for school. Items on the list include “Brush Your Teeth” and “Make Your Bed.” I’m often called in for back up duties, such as hair brushing and peanut butter spreading. I also keep an eye on the clock to make sure Riley leaves for school on time.
Among my fellow Working Parents bloggers, the only single parent we have is Cathy, so we haven't devoted much cyberspace to this topic. Clearly, it's a hot one. When I last logged into On Balance, there were at least 100 comments in response to a posting about Single Parents.
What are the best resources out there for single parents?