This week, my wife has been away helping out her parents which has left me home alone with our four boys. During this week, I have had zero free time or “me time” and it hit me how truly difficult it must be for a true single parent. Driving kids to the school bus, getting lunches ready, taking one to an orthodontist appointment, helping with homework, making dinner, keeping the house clean, doing laundry, and trying to spend appropriate time with each of them, literally took all the time I had outside of work. And this was with barely optimal sleep, from 10:30pm – 5:30am, which got interrupted one night at 3am with a sick child.
For me to be able to do all of this alone, work to provide for my family, and have any sort of personal life would be near impossible. Something would have to give. Would it be the bedtime reading to my youngest two? The walk I took with my oldest to discuss something in his life? Or talking with my second oldest while working out a knot in his lower back? My choice was to give up my personal exercise time, which is likely not healthy in the long run.
It made me reflect on the importance of choosing wisely in your life-partner. My wife and I present retreats for Catholic Engaged Encounter, with the hope that we are able to help couples make sure they want to build a sacramental marriage together as well as giving them tools which can help them navigate their married life together. But after this week, it made the importance of what we do even more poignant.
If we are able to help couples stay more happily married, it improves lives far beyond the husband and the wife. Children can learn to love to read/cook/study/(fill in your favorite activity here!) better as parents have time model the behaviors. Connections between parents and children are stronger. The parents work is done better for their employers. Schools and teachers will likely have better results as kids are better supported at home. The list goes on and reverberates down generations.
My message to my children when it is time for them date and eventually think about marriage is to choose wisely.