The largest difference between a single parent family and a family with two parents? Besides income (or the ability to have one be a stay-at-home parent), it’s the company. Most “couples” have a built-in buddy to do things with, things with the kids at least. When you take the kids to the beach, to a fair or festival, or just on a walk, you have the option of having another adult go with you. Me? I can’t count on this. It’s awesome when I get my sister and my niece to go along, but most of the time, it’s just M and I. And while sometimes that’s great for the two of us, sometimes (for me, at least) it’s awfully lonely.
I was raised an only child (my mother’s only child, my sister and I share a father but were raised in different households with different mothers) and I don’t remember feeling lonely when it was just my mom and I. I’m glad of that, because I want M to feel happy and complete when it’s just the two of us, but I’m sure that my mom often felt lonely. I’m sure that she didn’t feel like going to a lot of kid-friendly activities and events because it’s just a little depressing to be without any other adult company at places like this.
As a single mom, and a person who loves to get out and see new things, I’ve done the following with my kid and I and no one else: fairs, festivals, airplane trips, road trips, farms, hands-on museums, movies, classes, splash pads, metro parks, nature trails, church, apple orchards, holiday-themed events, beaches, boat rides, restaurants, etc etc etc.
Luckily for me, my child is a natural people-person and extrovert. Everywhere we go she engages strangers in conversation, finds other children to play with, and shows interest in whatever is happening around her. Case in point: today I took her to a summer festival in the downtown area of the city in which I work. She asked lots of questions to the person inside the giant dinosaur puppets, befriended the acrobat concert-goers, helped other parents chase down their runaway toddlers, and hung out at several picnic tables while chatting with college students. This is not a child who knows how to be lonely! Everywhere we go, adults tell me over and over she is darling, has beautiful hair, and above all is so curious and inquisitive and smart! And she really is.
Oh how I wish I had someone to share her magical childhood with! And how I wish I had some friends (even one friend would do) to accompany us on our adventures.
She inspects the costume and asks many questions of the puppeteer:
She enjoyed the live calypso music (and then got up and danced):
She found these audience members too interesting to leave alone:
She joined in the bubble fun, and of course made sure she understood how the bubbles were made and dumped into the pails: