“You don’t know what you don’t know” or “A tribute to single parents”

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“You don’t know what you don’t know” is something I preach in my classes and cling to in the academic setting that is my regular work environment. I strive to help my students learn to ask the right questions, to, as a friend of mine once put it, “Think higher, feel deeper”. And so this week, serving as a single parent with my wife away on business, I’m learning rapidly what I didn’t know, and feeling much more deeply the plight of the lone child rearing individual. The first thing I’ve realized: It’s almost impossible to get anything done as a single parent.

This morning on the way to drop Titus off at daycare, I couldn’t get gas because at two separate stations where I stopped, the credit card machine wasn’t working. I arrived fifteen minutes late to my first meeting of the day. After school I picked him up, made him dinner, and wiped a runny nose with clockwork regularity. I missed three phone calls and neglected my email to play with him. I had to call a friend and neighbor to watch him for twenty minutes just so I could shovel the walk, and I had to cancel my night class when I couldn’t find a substitute. The washing machine broke the morning my wife left, and it can’t be repaired until she returns, because the repairman and I keep the same hours. On top of it all, I have tons of grading and writing to do, and by the time these days have ended, I’m too tired even to consider it. Last night, I was asleep before 9pm, only to wake at 3am to the sounds of a crying boy on the baby monitor, which lead into the day I described above. Phew… I got tired just writing all of that down!

Please don’t read any of this as a complaint. Rather, it is a tribute. I am so utterly in awe of the single parent who somehow finds balance in raising a child and working, in addition to living life. Having performed their duties for all of nearly 48 hours, I can say with certainty that they are all deserving of sainthood, if not a Nobel prize. So tonight I’m raising a glass, and a rather specific one, so all the single parents I know (and those I don’t as well).

With dinner tonight, I had decanted a bottle of wine. In a rush, I grabbed what was close to me, a bottle of my go-to Cab from Columbia Crest, 2014. A young, low-cost Cabernet Sauvignon from the Columbia Valley, my first sips out of the bottle were a bit harsh, with pronounced wood and smoke notes dominating the fruit. In a spare moment between microwaving leftovers for dinner and strapping Titus into his highchair, I dumped it into a decanter. My neighbor arrived while Titus was eating, and before I’d started, and between shoveling the walk, changing diapers, reading bedtime stories, and more, I simply forgot about the wine and left it on the counter. About an hour and a half later, I noticed it again after putting Titus to bed. It has smoothed out into a gorgeous, well-structured, easy drinker that is driven by dark red fruits, with the smokey notes clearly in a supporting role. In short, it’s exactly what I need right now. (That and food; I still haven’t eaten dinner.)

This wine always drinks above its price point, but tonight especially it was delightful after a long decant, as if to reward me for working too hard to enjoy it with dinner. With Titus now asleep, I have time to sit and ponder, to type, to sip, and soon to sleep. I hope that all single parents can make time for a glass of wine like this one, and I hope they, too, will take the time to decant it. I now understand how very much they deserve such things.

Cheers to the amazing single parents out there!

Mark

PS: Sonja, if you read this, hurry home.

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