You all know being a single parent is one of the toughest obstacle courses life can throw at you… and one of my favorite single dads and friend, Jim Everson of Depot Dad, agreed to write about his first few months in Single Parent Boot Camp.
I took this picture of Jim on my trip to San Francisco, the cave reminded me of this post… there is ALWAYS a light at the end of every tunnel and I think Jim is finally able to see his!
“Keep your butt down, soldier, or it’ll get shot off some day!”
That’s prudent advice in any endeavor actually and….what’s that? You don’t know about Single Parent Boot Camp? Well have a seat and let me give you a first hand account of the experience as I still navigate the barb-wire training course of single parenting.
I first arrived at Camp Cantwinfertryin last March.
110 degrees in the shade and all you get for supper is a steady helping of grief. Each day starts off with a 20km hike while carrying a 60 pound pack filled with pressures, fears, and worries. But its not all bad, since the camaraderie of the recruits is unrivaled in any organization.
Without a doubt the most difficult part of single parent training is the obstacle course. So they are:
The Tire Tread Mill
You have to hold a load of laundry and a bag of groceries up over your head while running through a field of tires. I hustled through this one as quickly as I could. I lifted my knees high. I landed in the center of each tire. In a few minutes I was across the yard. That’s when the Sarge yelled,
“Now get back to the beginning, Rookie, and do it again! You’re a single parent – you’re never finished being TIREd! HAR HAR HAR!”
And with that terrible pun still ringing in my ears, I ran on to the second obstacle…
The Budget Balance Beam
This one is tricky for sure, you have to cross a ditch of bills, taxes and expenses on the narrowest of income beams. All the while you are tossed to and fro by the winds of ever changing economic conditions. Its a tough one, I’m telling you. But once licked, you can move on to the…
Slippery Slope of Infatuations
All I remember about this oil slicked hillside surrounded by so many thorny bushes of heartache was the Sarge yelling at me from the sidelines,
“Keep your wits about you, Rookie, or you’ll fall before you’re ready!”
I almost bit it on that one, that’s for sure. But I managed to pull through and then I faced…
The Negotiation with the Ex Mine Field
The Mood Swinging Ropes
This one looked too easy. Grab a rope and make a simple swoop over a little patch of dirt. Imagine my surprise when, upon grabbing the rope, I was suddenly propelled this way and that. The rope spun me into a whirl of euphoria, then dropped me fast into a nauseating funk. Before I could get my bearings, it had thrown me back to where I had started, leaving me feeling as if no progress had been made. Finally, it catapulted me on to the next obstacle and that’s when I saw my undoing…
The Climbing Wall of Despair
One has only to scale the wall using a hanging rope and throw themselves over the other side. As I stumbled towards this last obstacle, I saw it was but a small task for so many of the other single parent recruits. They propelled themselves up and over with the greatest of ease. But as soon as I grabbed the rope and attempted to pull myself up, I knew I was in trouble.
“What’s the matter, Rookie?” came the familiar voice,”All tuckered out and feeling hopeless? Well ain’t that just toooooo baaaad! Now get climbing!”
I gave it a second go only to end up flat on my back in a fit of tears.
“You can’t lay down and blubber about yer troubles, you hopeless wreck!” came the sarge’s supportive advice. “Now GET OVER THAT WALL!”
But it was useless. Every time I tried to get back on my feet, I slumped back down to the ground. I was beaten.
And that is when the most surprising thing happened. A bus load of single parent graduates had stopped by to check out the new greenhorns. And as the door swung open and the experienced single parents came pouring out, I heard, not laughter and judgement but…
“Cut corners where you can,” yelled out Heather from iHeartSingleParents.com. Kitkat4real followed that with, “Everything doesn’t have to be perfect!” Sweets pulled out a bullhorn and shouted,”Take each day as it comes and don’t sweat the small stuff!” Then I saw singleparentdad waving a giant flag. He yelled out, “When I’m so tired and I can’t even lift an eyelid, I think about my little boy and I am able to find the strength to get a few more things done.” Tonya was next with a heartfelt, “Don’t feel like you’re alone in this!”
And lastly, out stepped Ms. Single Mama herself. “Hey, you’re doing it all yourself now after years of having help! You can’t – as a human being – just suddenly adapt to that overnight. It takes time!”
They all started cheering and I felt the strength return to my arms. I stood up and grabbed the rope. I pulled myself up and over to the sound of whoops and hollers. I made it over the wall of despair.
And that is where I am today. Sarge says I still have to go the full 12 months, because I’ve got to learn to do the course blindfolded next. He says its the only way to be sure that these new skills are second nature and I can overcome obstacles without a second thought. And that’s fine with me. With a cheering section like mine, how can I go wrong?
Just remember to keep your butts down, everybody, and I’ll see you on the other side.