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Episode 9: The Ups & Downs of Solo-Parenting

0:00:11 - Allison
Kintsugi is the time-honored Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold to highlight the beauty of imperfection.

0:00:18 - Cyndi
We believe the same is true for life and motherhood that transparent conversations can impact generational legacy, in the spirit of Kintsugi.

0:00:26 - Allison
We embrace our differences and brokenness in the everyday pieces of life because we can all turn our messes into messages and are each more valuable when repaired with care where before we were broken.

0:00:36 - Cyndi
Welcome to Kintsugi Conversations.

0:00:41 - Allison
Hi guys, I'm Allison and I'm Cyndi. Welcome to another episode of Kintsugi Conversations. So today makes gosh, I guess two and a half weeks since DJ left for Dubai. For those of you that don't know, my husband plays professional basketball and has played all over the country and all over the world, and his career can make our lifestyle a little bit volatile, literally this season, I think. Mom, it was like Saturday morning and I was like, oh, I think we're getting an offer from Dubai right, and on Monday he signed the contract and on Tuesday the team was like hey, we would like you to come by Friday, and so everything moves extremely quickly, which is somewhat the norm in this lifestyle. How is that for you? Because I know that you're like me and we like to plan. How has it been adjusting to the craziness of our lifestyle?

0:01:43 - Cyndi
It's a little kind of. Everything is spur of the moment, rush, rush, rush and I always try to wherever I am. If I'm not in Atlanta, I try to get here so that I can try to help you with your sorting and packing and whatnot. Then I want to try to spend time with him before he leaves, but I also want to give you guys your family time. So it's kind of like a mixed bag and you don't quite know what to do. I feel like everybody's kind of like scrambling.

0:02:09 - Allison
Yeah, it definitely feels like that for me. This year we decided that the kids and I will stay home for I think we'll be here for what like five more weeks and then we will head over to Dubai, and so I am kind of starting the process, slowly but surely, of like getting our stuff together to head overseas. And I have entered another season of what I like to call solo parenting, which is not to be confused with being a single parent, because I'm not a single parent. I have a very loving, very supportive, very active husband. However, he is not here, so I am solo and solely responsible for, you know, the day to day responsibilities that come along with being a parent and mom. I know that solo parenting is something that you know all too well.

0:02:58 - Cyndi
Yes, I am very familiar with solo parenting While your dad was not even out of the country. He was in the same town as us, but your dad was a classic type A personality worker, holly, and he would work, you know, 20 hours a day. So there would be, you know, days, and even maybe sometimes like a week, that you know we would not see him because you know he maybe sometimes coming in the wee hours of the morning, shower, change clothes and head right back out again. I mean, it was to the point that, you know, at your school they thought I was a single mom. Yeah, I know, once or twice he showed up there and they were like, oh, who are you? She is married.

0:03:38 - Allison
She does have a husband.

0:03:40 - Cyndi
So I understand the solo parenting thing quite well yeah.

0:03:44 - Allison
I mean I remember, you know, being young and especially like, let's say, if dad was in trial or something like that, I remember literally you know I wouldn't see him. You said, you know, maybe a week, maybe like two, three weeks, because he would either like fall asleep at the office, you know, doing work for the trial, or he would come home after I was already in bed and like leave before I got up in the morning. And so you know I wouldn't see him. And you know you definitely became like the default parent, like I didn't even think like to to count on him before, like making my meals, you know, making sure my clothes were done, making sure I had school supplies, things like that.

0:04:27 - Cyndi
I mean financially he provided and he was not a bad father, but like when it came to like the day to day stuff, like I would have never thought to even ask him you know, I can even remember, like you having, like you know, bad dreams or being afraid or something, and there was a few times that he was even home, but your immediate response was mom. Yeah, you know you never called out for dad because, you know, sadly, you knew that. You know I was the one that was there.

0:04:58 - Allison
So what was it like for you, you know, solo parenting and kind of being the default parent.

0:05:06 - Cyndi
You know it was.

It could get frustrating at times because there's, you know, you always need the support of your mate, whether it's, you know, helping with homework and you know, even playing, and when your kid gets sick, and then there are times when you don't feel well and you need that support system to help you.

So it was definitely frustrating as far as even like having a child, but even, sometimes even more than that, it was lonely because I, you know, I didn't have my support system there. I didn't have the person that I loved there on a day to day. So, you know, after you were, you know, fed and bathed and embed and whatnot, then the other flip side of it kicked in because, again, I was alone, I didn't have anyone to have adult conversations with or spend adult time with. So it was very frustrating, it was lonely at times. I mean, like I said, it was just sort of a mixed bag and occasionally too, you do sort of build up a little bit of resentment, I guess too, and although you know that they're doing their jobs and you want to be supportive, but still there's like, sometimes it's like, hey, what about me? I need help too.

0:06:22 - Allison
Yeah, I can definitely relate to all of that 100%. It's a little different for me because during the off season, when DJ is not in season, doesn't have practice, doesn't have games, he is like very active and very hands-on with the kids. However, I feel like sometimes that kind of spoils me and I get kind of used to that in the off season. So when basketball season does come, it's kind of hard for me to adjust back to solo parenting. Yeah, because, you know, even when we are in the country with him, he's not able to be as helpful as he is during the off season. Just because he does have practice, he does have games. It is physically and you know, and mentally draining and it's a pretty demanding career. And so I just, you know, I am thankful that he's able to be active during the off season and he does the best that he can during this season. Like he is still helpful.

It's just different than the off season, of course, when he, you know, is pretty much available all the time. But you know, like you mentioning loneliness, like I think that's honestly the main thing because parenting, especially in the stage that I'm in, where, you know, I have a toddler and I have a small child, both of whom are very active and still have big feelings and all that stuff. It's hard either way, like it's hard whether I'm alone or whether DJ's here. However, it's easier to deal with the hard when you have someone else like in the trenches of it with you. I feel like like you know, at least we can both like laugh at the fact that it is hard. You know what I'm saying Also too.

0:08:03 - Cyndi
You know your kids and you were too. You know you loved your mommy. So even when your dad was there, you still gravitated to me or whatever else. And the same thing with your kids, your kids.

0:08:15 - Allison
They loved their dad to death, but still, you know, they are kind of mama's kids, they come to us for different things, like especially like Jackson, for example Harper Choo, but Jackson, like he knows, like if he wants to like play rough on the floor, like let me go find my dad, but like anything else, pretty much it's like mommy, mommy, mommy, and Harper's kind of, you know. The same way, if she wants to go outside, for example, she's like, oh, let me ask dad, but anything else she's like, no, I want mommy to do it, you know. So it's like dealing with being a default parent and dealing with, you know, my husband having a demanding job. But you know, I don't know, like after a long day of parenting, I definitely miss having someone to just like sit with and, you know, talk to and unwind with. So I can definitely relate to that as well. How do you feel like being a solo parent impacted your marriage?

0:09:13 - Cyndi
I think that it definitely. It was good and bad. There were some ways that it made us closer because we appreciate the time that we did get to spend together or at least I did so that made me feel closer to him in those times. But also the flip side of that is it did put distance between us because you know, I'm basically living my life at home with the kids and he's basically living his life at his office and doing like the entertaining side that he had to do for his business. So you know it's a flip side and some areas it made us closer and some areas it gave us, you know it put some distance between us.

0:09:55 - Allison
Yeah, I feel like you know you mentioned resentment and I feel like, as much as I try not to be resentful because I am so thankful of the sacrifices that DJ makes so that we can, you know, live the lifestyle that we live and I mean his career is fun and all that stuff it's kind of hard not to have like just a little bit of resentment because there's just, you know, times where maybe I'm venting or maybe I'm like, you know, expressing something about the kids, and you know he'll say something and I'm like, but you're not here.

You know, at the end of the day, you don't, you don't get it. I have to watch myself with that because I do realize that, as hard as it is for me to not have him here, it's harder for him because he feels like he's missing, you know, precious time with his family. But I think it's kind of natural for a little bit of resentment just to creep in when you're dealing with this situation where your husband has a very demanding job that, like takes him out of the house. For, you know, majority of the day, majority of the week, majority of the month, majority of the year, whatever it is, and you are in the trenches, you know, stay at home, mom, with the kids.

0:11:03 - Cyndi
Yeah, it's almost like they get to be the fun, good time, happy times, parent, but you have to deal with the discipline and everything else, so you can't necessarily always be the friend and all that kind of stuff.

I can remember your dad, you know, be home sometimes when I was like, you know, allison did X, y and Z, I need for you to handle it. And he's like well, no, I don't want her to be mad at me because I got to go, you know, back to the office, to go back to court, and I don't want her to be mad at me and I'm like, but it's OK if she's mad at me, I mean, and that doesn't matter, I need, you know, your dad, can you step in and handle this? But it was like no, I don't, I don't want to be the bad guy. So it makes you have to be again the disciplinarian, the nurse, the teacher, you know. So you get all the good but you also get all the bad. But then you can't really, like you said, you don't really necessarily want to go to them and gripe about it, because you know they feel some kind of way about not being able to be there too.

0:11:58 - Allison
So it's just, you know, big feelings yeah, and this isn't really supposed to be what this episode is about, but I have to just like touch on this because I feel like it Like wraps right into this topic. Right of being a solo parent, being the default parent during the day and then, even when you know your husband is around at night, being Expected to be a wife at night time and we all know what I'm referring to.

I'm talking about sex. For those that didn't catch that, it is really hard to like have a kid climb on you all day. You know, need you all day. And then you know your husband, who maybe wasn't home all day and didn't deal with any of those things. He's ready For intimacy because he hasn't had intimacy all day. And you've had intimacy all day long, in a different way, of course, but I feel like that's another way that it can definitely like impact.

0:12:48 - Cyndi
A marriage because it's really hard. Cause resent? Because you're like the last thing I want right now is anybody else touching me. Yeah, can I just even just go and lock the door and sit on the toilet in peace, without somebody?

0:13:01 - Allison
calling for.

0:13:05 - Cyndi
What? I definitely understand that and you know me. And also they don't understand that for a woman, we need that. If you want intimacy from us at night, we need little things during the day to make us feel, you know, pretty and sexy and to lead up to that. You can't just come and pounce on me just because you just got.

0:13:23 - Allison
Exactly exactly. I feel like that's something that, you know, any parent that is the default parent probably deals with, because it's definitely hard to just like turn off the mom and turn on the wife, like like that. It like it takes time, and that's something that I've dealt with kind of in just in in in this, this life, where usually I am the one that is like with the kids, you know, the majority of the time.

0:13:51 - Cyndi
Yeah, it's hard to because, like you said, after you've been with the kids, you know you get them up, get them ready for school, get them breakfast, all that stuff. Then pick them you, while they're at school, you're doing household chores and whatever. You know little job, whatever you have to do. Then it's time, before you know it, to go back and get them again. Then you got to deal with after school activities or keeping them occupied. Then it's dinner time for them, then it's finally. You know you're counting down the clock and watching the clock till it's. You know bad time, bad time. You get them in bed. But then your second job kicks in too, because now you got to reshuffle out the house, you got to do the dinner dishes, you got to figure out lunches for the next day, you got to figure out laundry. So you know, when you're solo parenting it never ends for you yeah, and it's.

0:14:38 - Allison
It's that feeling of having no one to call. You know what I'm saying, because at the end of the day, like there is an invisible mental load that comes along with motherhood and I've talked about this a little bit on social media I feel like as a mom there, like we're tired because we're thinking all day what are we going to eat? Did I make that doctors appointment? Oh, is Harper still having an issue with XYZ friend at school? Oh, jackson probably isn't going to eat what I'm going to make for dinner for me and Harper. What can I make him?

There's just so many things that we as moms Think about and you know, on top of that we have our responsibilities that we have to handle, like you were saying, around the house, and I think for me one of the hard things about solo parenting is like there is no one that I can say oh hey, can you do this thing? Would you mind unloading the dishwash or would you mind doing XYZ? Because it all, at the end of the day, falls in my lap, whether it's like the household stuff or the parenting stuff, and it all has to get done.

0:15:43 - Cyndi
Right, it does. I can remember again you being at school and you would go to school and I would do whatever in between times, but then picking you back up and then you would have either a play date or you were involved in sports activity. So it was like getting you to that activity or getting you to your orchestra practice and that kind of thing. And then, oh, I forgot to tell you, mom, I have this project due, I need XYZ. So it's a constant cycle of being needed and being pulled in a million different directions and, like you said, not having that backup, to say, hey, while I do this, can you do that? Yeah, exactly.

0:16:24 - Allison
Do you feel like being that you were often a solo parent, that it impacted how you mothered at all or impacted our relationship?

0:16:35 - Cyndi
I don't think it necessarily impacted how I mothered. I do think it is one of the things, though, that still made us as close as we are today, because we did do so many things together. I always because your dad was not going to be at different things that you were involved in, I always want to make sure that I was front and center and used to tease me. You know, mom, you had to be the loudest one, but I always wanted you to know that you were supported and loved. Probably sometimes we're overboard, because I knew that he couldn't be there to provide that for you. So I would go to the extra to make sure that, hey, I'm here for me and dad you may not hear his what you're gonna hear me.

So it helped to make us, I do think, still made us some closer. But you and he had your own relationship, irregardless and the closest that you and he had. It was different things that you and he bonded over that were different than the things that you and I bonded over. So I'm glad that, just like with your kids, we have our relationship. You and he had your relationship, but it was still a family unit, but it was just sometimes separate.

0:17:55 - Allison
Yeah, yeah, I get it. I feel like for me it does kind of impact like a lot of the decisions that I will make as a mom, because I'm constantly thinking about, even if DJ, even while he is here, I'm always thinking like, will I be able to handle this alone? For example, like signing Harper up for activities right, when I was signing her up for activities for this period while he was away, like in my head I was like, okay, how will I manage this though, when he is gone? This time works now when he's here, but will this time still work when it's just me? Even like bedtime okay, we're gonna introduce kind of this to the bedtime routine. Will I be able to keep this up when he's gone?

And then not really sadly enough, but I do feel like I'm also like, how can I like fill the void while he's away? Because my kids are very close to their dad. I mean, they both, they both are, like you said. They have like a special bond and special relationship with him, even though I'm mommy and I'm, you know, the default parent and they're both kind of mama's babies. They have a really close relationship with him.

And so I'm also always thinking about how do I kind of make up for that, and I feel like that can sometimes make me put a lot of pressure on myself to be everything you know what I'm saying and do it all and make sure that they get, that they don't miss out on anything. They still get to do X, y, z, and I mean quite honestly I even feel like you know it's part of the reason why my kids are, like, so spoiled, because you know I'm kind of like, well, yeah, like your dad's gone Harper, like if you want this, you know toy, like yeah, that'll make you happy. Like I know you miss your dad, like here it goes, and then he's guilty of it too, right Cause he's like, yeah, you know the kids miss me. Like let me just send them this, you know what I'm saying, and it kind of it creates kind of an interesting dynamic.

0:19:58 - Cyndi
Well, for you too it's harder because, you know, fortunately, unfortunately, unfortunately, I only had you to deal with and so you've got two kids. So that's that's a big, big difference too. And you know, you always want to make sure you're dividing your time equally between the two of them and give it each one of them what they need and you know, and letting them, you know, have time with their dad on the phone and whatever. So you know you've got it a little bit harder than I had it. You know I can also remember, even like after you, you know, growing up and then, and even after your dad passed away, you know, because I was still so used to him not necessarily being present, you know I still remember doing things and giving you, giving me, like, you know, this is for me and your dad you know, you know, at your wedding, you know I was, like, you know, I'm giving her away in honor of her dad in heaven.

So, you know, still, you know, trying to incorporate, you know, his presence in your life even after he had passed away, because I was so used to that solo parenting and still used to, though, even in my solo parenting making you feel like he was still present in your life, Exactly exactly.

0:21:07 - Allison
When it comes to you know husbands or you know men with demanding jobs, I feel like you know. We often hear that you know when your man has an demanding job, you as a woman have to give up. You know certain things. Do you feel like you gave up anything so that daddy could, you know, kind of maintain and succeed and excel in his demanding job?

0:21:33 - Cyndi
I do because I am a firm believer in there can only be one star of a show at a given time. So you know he was, you know, building his career. I knew that he wanted a stay-at-home wife and mom. So you know I gave up. You know, going to school, you know I was doing modeling part-time. So I let all of those things go and put them on the back burner so that I could be, you know, first of all, the wife that he needed to support him, be able to travel with him and do things that he needed me to do, and then also, when you came along, to be able to be, you know, at home with you to attend to your schooling, your whatever needs that you had, so that he still could go out and build his career. So there were a lot of things that I did put on the back burner and put myself lower on the totem pole or on the shelf so that he and then you could have the lives that you know I wanted you guys to have.

0:22:32 - Allison
Yeah, you know I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and I have caught a little bit of flack for, like saying that out loud over the last few years, but I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Because you were a stay-at-home mom and you were such an amazing mother that to me, like that seemed like the ideal, and so even when DJ and I were dating, before he played professionally, you know, we always kind of talked about like that. That was our ideal plan for me to be a stay-at-home mom. So I don't really feel like I haven't given anything up per se because we planned it this way all along. However, I do feel like I often put things, you know, on the back burner or press pause to things that I have going on so that he can, you know, do what he needs and wants to do as professional athlete, like, for example, when we leave to go overseas. You know, in a few months, like I'll have to push pause on some of the projects and things that I have going on here at home because, like we won't be in the country. So it's just like things like that that I do feel like I've had to kind of shift um due to his career. However, I will.

I agree with you that there can only be kind of one star at a time, and I think that the beauty, at least in my marriage, is that, like DJ is very, very supportive of me and my dreams and what I want to do as well, and so, even if it's a season where I can't necessarily be the star and shine right, then he always carves out a space for me to be able to do that later and like supports it 100%. So, like, for example, like in the off season, he's like it's your time to shine, bay. Like you got it, like I'll help with the kids so that you can do whatever it is that you know you weren't able to do over the season, so I don't know. I really appreciate that, so shout out to my man thank you to my man.

0:24:25 - Cyndi
Well, that's, that's really really good.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of women, though, that don't have that um, support, um, they feel like their husbands feel like, you know, I'm the primary breadwinner or because I'm the man, you know, you should always take a back seat to me, and that's not the case.

Ladies, you know, it would be great if you guys could have like a very open and honest conversation and both of you lay out you know what your goals are, what is it you want to succeed in life?

You know doing and also what your man wants to do, and maybe at some point in time, like Allison said, you know find a time, though, that you know, even though you're supporting him, let's say, you know 75% of the time because, okay, he is the man and he may be the primary breadwinner, but also, maybe you know he can find a time whether it's during, you know, the summer or whatever that he can say to you, that you know he can say, hey, you know, I've been doing this, you know, for this amount of time. I know that there's some things that you want to do here. I'm going to take a backseat right now and let you come up and do the things that you want to do. So you know, I'm hoping that maybe, you know, people can have like an open and honest conversation with their mate and find that balance.

0:25:43 - Allison
So, as you know, so low parents or default parents to men with demanding jobs, like there are things that we can't do, there are things that you know it might be hard for us to do, we might feel overwhelmed, we might feel lonely, but what was helpful for you in, you know, finding support or just like not feeling, you know, totally alone or totally overwhelmed as a solo parent.

0:26:11 - Cyndi
For me it was finding, like mothers whose husbands also had, you know, demanding jobs and you know so we were playing like play dates for our kids, and so while the kids were playing, it gave us a chance to kind of sit as wives and moms and kind of, you know, have our own little gripes session yeah, community.

Which is which is very important. Yeah, we also would take turns, you know, keeping each other's kids, so that one mom could have some time just to herself, just to whether she just want to take a long, luxurious bubble bath or just whatever. Just you know, having that village, though, to support you is vital, I think Also. Just I also found time where, after you were in bed and I got everything done that I was sitting back and be like, okay, you know what I like when I got ready to write my book, I, just after you, were in bed and whatever, and I had the quiet time. You know it's two o'clock in the morning, but that was something that I wanted to do for myself, so I carved out that little time that was just for me.

Yeah, and also journaling when you don't have that partner there to like talk to or you don't want to necessarily share everything you're feeling with him, because you don't want to. You know how the male ego is, so you don't want to shock their ego. Journaling also helped me a lot to like just get out feelings of frustration and loneliness and that kind of thing.

0:27:43 - Allison
I agree, mom, 100%. I think that community is huge when it comes to being a wife or, you know, being a mother, and you know your partner has a demanding job. Finding community is going to be huge because you need people to talk to, you need people that you can relate to and you need people that you can count on. Also, like communicating about it by journaling or to a therapist or to a friend, is going to be huge, and the other thing that I will say is find some help if you can there is nothing wrong with hiring a housekeeper, a nanny, a mother's helper, calling on your mom, whoever.

It's hard to be a parent. Even you know when your partner is present. So if you are solo, like, get some help. That is the number one thing that I have done in this period of solo parenting. That's been kind of different.

Then my last period, like usually, my mom is my number one source of help, you know, with the kids and everything like that, and she is great. However Hired, help is is next level, because you don't really feel guilty right for asking them to help because, like, you're paying them for it. So you know that has been a game changer for me. At the end of the day, I realized that I cannot be the mother that my kids need unless I am, you know, filling up my cup. I can't, I can't feel theirs if mine is empty. And having help has just allowed me to do that, because it's allowed me to To have a break. It's allowed me to get things done that I need to do and it's just really gone a long way for me, you know, in terms of Managing during this period where I am solo.

0:29:19 - Cyndi
Yeah, I am so glad that you found it, because I have been telling you that for the longest amount of time. You know, ouston, there's nothing wrong with asking for help, whether it's through me or hiring people. You know, I'm like we'll figure it out. We just have to interview the people, find the right matches and do this. I am so proud of you, though, for realizing that, yes, you are super mom, but you can't do everything.

0:29:45 - Allison
Yes, I'm, I'm glad for me too. I'm happy for me, I love that for myself, and I realized that, like these solutions might kind of sound cliche, but like they honestly do Do work, I feel like, and you know, if you are at all able, get some help.

Mom, even you are remember when I was going up. You know we didn't have a nanny, but you had some help with the household things, you know, with a housekeeper. You know I'm all for getting all of the help and support because you know your kids need you. Obviously, since you're often Solo, if your husband has a demanding job, your kids need you. So you know the. To me, the best way to be At your best for them is to be supported yourself.

0:30:27 - Cyndi
Exactly, you know. I've always said you know, you can't be a whole mom when you're not a whole person.

0:30:32 - Allison
So, exactly, well, you know we always like to leave you guys with something, and first of all, we want to welcome you guys into our community. I'm always open. My mom is always open. You know, we can definitely both relate to being wives of men that have demanding jobs, even my mom's we didn't even really talk about mom your, your husband now, but he has a pretty demanding job as well. So, even though you guys aren't raising small kids together, you know You're kind of back into that, into that lifestyle, and so we would love to be there for you to support you. You know, feel free to reach out to us on social media. We are more than happy just to kind of, you know, be your listening ear, be, do what we can to support you through this journey, and we also have a journal prompt that is up on our website and it's just kind of a prompt to help you to Put some stuff on paper so that maybe you can have a conversation with your spouse About your needs and what would help you to feel Supported as you support him in his, you know, demanding career. Correct, all right, guys, thank you so much for tuning in.

As always, we are headed over to patreon To record a little special extra about the perks of being married to a husband with a demanding job. We kind of talked about. You know what makes it difficult, but there are quite a few things that make it fun as well. So if you're not already, be sure to subscribe to our patreon and please, please, please, like this episode, rate it, review it, share it with a friend. Thanks for listening, guys, bye, bye.

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