I think I could hack it as a single parent.
Now, it would have to be one sponging off the state. That's not a commentary on anyone else by the way. I'm being specific. I don't know if I could be a single Dad and go to work. That sounds bloody horrible. I'm like a whiny baby after not-even two weeks (basically) of the wife being away. And I didn't have the stresses of work, day care and all the crap real single parents deal with. Being a single parent is not something I envy at all.
No - what I'm saying is that with the kid's mother away essentially for two weeks I've come to realize I could pull it off if needs be. Mind you in week one I'd have argued that I could be a single parent - but the house would be an appalling mess. It was clear of general clutter but there was a veneer of filth everywhere. The dishes were clean but the counters weren't. Stuff was shoved into piles to make it appear neat. The laundry was clean but not put away. There was a general layer of despair in the form of dog hair, leaves and bits of craft paper gathered in the corners of the living room. The kitchen floor was particularly rancid. But I just kept telling myself I'd get to it in the end. And I didn't. So by the time my wife got home I hoped that the following day we could tackle the mess together. Instead she picked that evening as the once-a-quarter moment when she can't tolerate any kind of mess at all. The second she came through the door she wanted to make her point - she'd kept up her end of things (been to work and aced the shit out of it by schmoozing until the wee hours at a week-long conference) and wanted to know what feeble excuses I had for things not being perfect at home. It's during these moments that I remind her of the very similar sloppy state of our home when I was the one working and that if I ever mentioned it she would stare at me like I hate all women. When I remind her of this she always smugly remarks, "yes well - you were right after all." Check. Shit.
I know lots of people with children who also have beautiful homes. Lots of nice things and always clean. Part of out problem is we've been living in an unfinished home for years. And really - we rebuilt this thing so it wasn't like a small DIY project that's not been completed. The whole thing was ripped out and only now is really coming together. And I have the handicap of genuinely just not being able to feel anything about aesthetics. That's not a cheap excuse for it either. While I'm glad we put new flooring in, I'm glad for pragmatic reasons. So that the house has resale value and that the wife is happy mostly. But I genuinely don't have any feelings as to the new floor being better than the old one. I wasn't happy with the old floor because I wasn't anything. Content isn't the right word but it's a similar emotion. So in one sense it seems weird to spend money, effort and whatnot on things for other people to tell you they look nice. This last week a few visitors commented that the living room looks really nice (a salesman and two people taking the old couch notably). I'm sure it does look nicer - but I don't feel anything about it. But I'm aware also that you can learn pride and care of things too - so have tried to point this out to my kids even so.
So in one sense the whole place has had an under-construction sort of vibe to it. But the finished or untouched stuff - like the kitchen (finished) and our bedroom (totally untouched) are generally messy. I do feel like I'm combating these often against the rest of the entire family. I clean the kitchen at least twice a day. And I constantly remind the two kids about certain things (pick your coats up, don't traipse through the house with muddy feet, play in one place not everywhere, etc) to pretend that there's some control over it all. And in typical fashion when their mother get's home I'll get irritated at her if she contributes at all to the mess. Which she will. Much to my wife's consternation I've often tried to prove to her that while we are all at fault for much of the slovenliness of our home that she is sometimes the main culprit for some of it. That sounds absurd seeing as she's home for such a small portion in comparison. But we did assign certain job responsibilities to each other which - when she's extra busy - go unmet. That's not blame - but it does mean stuff doesn't get done. And being more ungenerous I know at least one person who reads this that was her roommate in college and can attest to how messy she was. I recall one story my wife tells about how their room was clearly divided with one side neat and pleasant, whereas the other looked like a nuclear reactor had failed. Well - I performed a similar experiment in our bedroom with much the same results this Summer and it took nine entire weeks before the that was resolved.
But still - I am home and have been slacking. I would justify not keeping up with stuff because I had to endure more single parenting because the wife was at work more and more. Which is the shittiest kind of martyrdom. It's in the "Hey kids - Mom;s not coming home so we get pizza for the THIRD NIGHT STRAIGHT!" territory. So in direct competition this week I've followed the method where if you don't allow dirt to build up then it never gets too bad. So it's still mostly clean everywhere and the same amount of time is conducted to keep it mostly that way. And even though my son has been revolting ill I've still kept up. Like a real Flylady and everything (before all the merchandise-hocking stuff became so prevalent, obviously)...
Mind you without my wife's guiding hand I do tend to wander down bizarre cul-de-sacs that could get me into great trouble. For example all it took was one comment from an online friend about how they were visualizing Queen's I Want To Break Free after I mentioned I'd just done the cleaning and I was stood in the bedroom holding one of my wife's skirts and wondering if I could fit into the damn thing. But when I realized that I was actually stood in my living room holding the only pink dress my wife has with no idea what witchcraft is need to get it on and I could hear my son grumbling about not feeling well I knew I was on the wrong path. A path that would lead to me having to explain to far too many people why they've seen a video of me sweeping in a dress while my son cries in the background. And I'm not about to make a ridiculous decision like that any time soon.