So I’m back out there in the world, meeting new people, talking to strangers, which really isn’t that big of a deal since we now know that stranger danger isn’t a real thing, for the most part. I hold it back for as long as I can, but eventually it comes out, “Yes, I am a single mom of twin three year olds.” I don’t really like saying it; it requires too much explanation or sidestepping of explanation. Inevitably, it comes out, and the hearer invariably looks at me wide-eyed, shakes her head (I basically only speak to women), and says, “How do you do it?” Sometimes I’m in a good mood and give the answer that people feel most comfortable with, “Oh it’s a lot of work, but I have a wonderful support network.” It’s true. I do have a wonderful support network. Just this Sunday, Uncle Danny rounded up my kids and took them to church so that I could attend a brunch concert. Now that’s support! Sometimes I’m in a feisty mood and throw out an answer like, “Actually my kids are so well-behaved and smart that it’s really no work at all” or “I maintain order by using a whistle like Colonel Von Trapp in the Sound of Music” or “It was easy when they were babies, but now that they have thoughts and feelings it just got real” or “Avery and Lily have been honing their pick-pocketing skills after school to bring in extra income.”
In all honesty, what I’m really thinking when someone lays the “how do you do it” question out there is more like a mash up of something Yoda would say and a Nike slogan. There is no how; I just do it. The exact definition of “it” is vague. It’s not as if I’m trying to split the atom while taming Lily’s ringlets. I identify the rock bottom necessities and make sure those are covered; food, shelter, clothing. I consider anything else as a bonus. Seriously, I like to imagine not doing “it” and chuckle. Like I could wake up one morning, and say, “Kids, I’m not doing ‘it’ today. Fend for yourselves!” They probably could get pretty far, actually, with their Austrian style discipline and tiny hands just perfect for lifting wallets.
So when the next person asks me how I do it, I’m going to tell the truth. I don’t know. I don’t know how to raise these girls to be the remarkable women I want them to be. I don’t know how to knock it out of the park in my career when a large portion of my brain is always devoted to my kids. I don’t know how to make sure that the house is always orderly, the dishes are washed, the laundry is freshly folded and tucked away, and the lunches are packed thoughtfully. I don’t know how to get my kids dropped off for school without angering another parent with my inconsiderate parking! I do not know how to do all of these things. I do know how to shove a frozen pizza in the oven, put an album on our record player, and dance with my two best gals. Now that I can do. I’ll figure out the rest of it tomorrow, after I split the atom.