Dina L. Relles

writer. editor. curious + common.


Yesterday, Scary Mommy ran my piece On Single Mommin’ It…But Not Really. (In case you missed it, go ahead…check it out. I’ll still be here when you get back.)

What a perfect day for that post to be published. I’m sure many of us on the East Coast woke up to a morning logistically complicated by the significant snowfall the night before. Even before my little gang took to the outside, it was one of those mornings where I found myself unable to give each boy what he needs when he needs it. My middle was tormenting my oldest (a rare occurrence), while I was elbow-deep in changing the baby’s diaper. Then he sweetly insists that he sit on my lap just as my oldest requests a breakfast refill. In passing, I gratefully observe that it seems we’ve trained the baby to deliver choking hazards to the nearest adult or older brother instead of ingesting them (thanks for that tiny Lego piece, bud!). I make a mental note that we’re out of eggs. (We’re always out of something, because I dread grocery shopping. Tried it once spontaneously on my own with the three in tow. Won’t do that again.) And meanwhile, my mind is racing with all the things that must get done in order for us to leave the house (where is that shovel & salt? do the kids need to wear boots? is our parking lot plowed? is there still trash collection in the snow?), so I’m inevitably distracted. Always distracted.

I like to think my divided attention is good for them–for fostering their independence, patience, and low-maintenanceness. No helicopter-momming here, because I haven’t figured out how to fly three at once. Plus, that’s neither practical nor affordable.

And yesterday morning? When I was busy doing who-knows-what, my older boys came up with a creative little game involving sending a marble (choking hazard) through a makeshift “tunnel” (more Legos). They had the time of their lives.

So I’m curious to hear your thoughts. What do you do when you can’t meet your kids’ needs all at once? Is it ultimately good for them to have a parent with divided attention (at least some of the time–and provided, of course, they are safe, basic needs are met, etc.)? Drop me a note and let me know what you think.

And by the way–I may as well issue my Disclaimer now:  If you don’t hear from me for a bit, just know I’m out there, enjoying every comment you send my way & crafting responses in my mind while I’m knee-deep in boy needs. While I intend to write here regularly, I’m determined to prioritize mothering over all. As I’ve mentioned, my hope is that this site helps me parent more deliberately, not more distractedly. So I beg your patience and understanding if it takes me some time to reply or post new content. Thank you!

And reading the comments to yesterday’s piece (yes, I did–and always will–read every single one), I was smiling through tears. I’m humbled that so many strong, beautiful women (and men!) took the time to read and respond.

After clearing the snow and ice off our van while my three guys waited warmly within, I was reminded that we–all of us–can handle more than we ever thought we could. This I know.

4 thoughts on “Single Mommin’ It on a Snow Day

  1. My response to this doesn’t come from any of my parenting experience, since lord knows I’m no expert in THAT arena, but actually from my dating history (although, also no expert there). I recall dating a guy at one time in my life who was the product of helicopter parenting. His mom was actually a lovely woman– the caring, generous kind of person who always put everyone’s needs ahead of her own. Her children had her full, undivided attention at all times. Even with her kids fully grown, she would still constantly drop EVERYTHING to immediately comply with any of their demands.

    And her son was the BIGGEST JERK I have ever dated in my life.

  2. Hilarious! Thanks for this.

  3. Sara says:

    Hi Dina – Thanks for sharing these thoughts! I was directed to your blog by an excellent surgeon/father of 3 that I work with! We have 3 kids in our family too (6 and 4 year old boys and a 7month old girl) so I can very much relate to you…
    I call this ‘benign neglect’ although maybe it would better be called ‘distraction parenting’…Generally, I think that this approach is healthy for us and our kids and basically inevitable…And I’m pretty sure that it’s what parents have always done! But I sometimes worry that I am spread too thin or distracted too much…but all I can do is do the best I can and start saving for future family therapy session later!
    Of course, maybe ‘highchairs and headaches’ is right and our children’s future boyfriends/girlfriends/partners will thank us!
    I look forward to hearing more from you!

    1. Some great thoughts, Sara! I’m glad you found me here. Hope you’ll stick around…and I look forward to meeting you in person sometime! All the best.

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