Slice of life

by Meg Heiman

I’ve been flying solo quite a bit lately. My husband’s job requires him to do some traveling in the fall. Since mid-September he’s been home a week, gone a week, home a week, gone a week. The weeks that he’s gone are, in a word, exhausting. <BR><BR>When my partner is gone and I’m left to juggle things on my own, I have a hard time keeping up. I rush through homework with the kids; dinner is fast food or a bagel and a bowl of cereal; the little kids get hands and faces washed before bed - a bath takes too much time - and the laundry sits wet in the washer, wrinkled in the dryer, and piling up in the hamper. Life is MORE hectic, MORE hurried. <BR><BR>I’m anxious; the kids are anxious. When I drop them off for practice, they speak from experience when they say, “Now don’t forget to pick me up!” <BR><BR>But for me, there’s an end to all of this in sight. Soon this stretch of travel will be over. Then, without disruption, we’ll be back to tag-team parenting - I help the kids with their homework while he makes dinner; he gives the little kids a bath while I throw in a load of laundry; I drop a kid off at practice and he picks him up. <BR><BR>And for me, even in the midst of my husband’s out-of-town-travel spurt, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Come Friday of a travel week, my tag-team partner is back. Then I can hand over the parenting baton to someone else and get a break. <BR><BR>By Friday afternoon, I need a break. I’m tired. And I’m humbled. Because each time I go though a week of flying solo, I wonder: how do single parents do this all the time? For single parents, there may be no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel. <BR><BR>Recently I talked with a friend of mine who is a single mom. “How do you do it?” I asked, incredulously. <BR><BR>“I just do it,” she replied. <BR><BR>I asked the obvious. “Are you just exhausted all the time?” <BR><BR>“Yes.” <BR><BR>“Do you ever get a break?” I wondered. <BR><BR>“Sometimes,” she answered. <BR><BR>I have a feeling her sometimes is different than mine. <BR><BR>There are many people out there who are fighting the good fight alone. They may have friends and extended family to help out once in a while, but for the most part the work they do in the trenches is work they do on their own. Solo. They may be flying solo for different reasons, but none matters. What matters is that they are trying to do the job of two, and they are one. <BR><BR>And somewhere at the bottom of the list - after homework and baths and laundry, far below job responsibilities and bills and a hundred other things - comes self. <BR><BR>For those of us fortunate enough to have a tag-team partner, we can get down on our knees more often than a day on the calendar reminds us to and give thanks. And when we get back up, we can reach out to those who aren’t so lucky. I’m sure a nutritious “adult” meal would be appreciated by a single parent every now and then, especially if it’s made by a friend and brought over with a loaf of bread and a salad. For those without a tag-team partner, my hat is off to you.<BR><BR>SPINACH LASAGNA <BR><BR>10 lasagna noodles <BR><BR>2 pkgs frozen chopped spinach (10 oz each) <BR><BR>2 c chopped onions <BR><BR>1 T olive oil <BR><BR>1 c grated carrots <BR><BR>2 c fresh diced mushrooms <BR><BR>1 6-oz can tomato paste <BR><BR>1 12-oz can tomato sauce <BR><BR>2 t oregano <BR><BR>2 c cottage cheese or ricotta cheese <BR><BR>2 eggs <BR><BR>1 pound mozzarella cheese <BR><BR>1/4 c parmesan cheese<BR><BR>Boil the noodles as directed. Cook the spinach as directed; squeeze out excess water. Sauté the onions in oil; add the carrots and mushrooms. Stir in tomato paste, tomato sauce, and oregano. <BR><BR>In a separate bowl, combine cottage cheese and eggs; sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Grease a 9-by13 pan. Spread a little sauce in the bottom of pan, and then layer noodles, spinach, cottage or ricotta cheese, sauce, and thin slices of mozzarella. Repeat and end with cheese on top. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over top. Cover with foil. <BR><BR>On the top of the foil, write “Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 30 minutes.” Give to a single parent. This recipe can be doubled, if desired.<BR><BR>