Friday, September 24, 2021

Peg Solitaire and Single Parenting

You guys know the game. You're at a hole-in-the-wall diner before smartphones existed. Breakfast has been ordered (even though it's noon) and you know you have a solid 30 minutes to kill because there's a half dozen orders in front of you that want that same chicken fried steak you asked for.

The cook can only move so fast, so you wait at your table with a glass of ice water, salt and pepper shakers, a sugar holder with white, blue and pink packets and--if you're lucky--a plastic Smucker's caddy that still has some Seedless Blackberry in it. And peg solitaire.

Peg solitaire doesn't have the sophistication of card solitaire games like Spider or FreeCell. No. Peg solitaire is multiple rounds (about 30 minutes worth) of hilarious futility. This is the game where you end up laughing at yourself because you can't seem to quite get what appears to be a simple concept.

Oooh, I know. I'll jump here. Wait. No.

Here, then here, then here and...

OK. Three pegs left.  I almost win!

Steve Fishman (CC by 2.0)

Let's start over with the empty hole at the corner.  

From here to here to here. 

No. No, that's not right. Right here. NO. Seriously?


This is what single parenting is like every day. It doesn't seem like such a complicated thing. The end goal is right there in front of me. Somehow I keep running out of moves but I never run out of pegs.

Days happen, the clock spins and somehow stuff just gets past me. Come on. I'm better than that! Let's go again cuz we got this! 

(by 11 PM the next day) REALLY? It's like that!?!

Next day: Nope.

The next day: What?

The day after that: Two pegs to go and I almost win!!!

Yet another day: Is my chicken fried steak here yet?

I'm outnumbered. I'm tired. There's small details and intricacies of life that are no longer even considerations. Every seam is strained with necessity. Options are no longer optional. Out of moves, but the pegs are still in their places and they're laughing at me.

Can I tell you that I enjoy it? For some reason in this short season of life, I'm here playing the near-unwinnable game that was never meant to be a solo endeavor, but God has placed me at this table for a little while. And He's given me something to do. Something seemingly futile, but somehow there's laughter and love and understanding.

I cannot tell you the newly-gained respect I have for the single parents that I know. Especially, considering that so many of them I know are doing it well. In all of these amazing stories, I just think a lot of times the joy gets lost between the order and the steak.


A few months ago I was talking with a fellow single parent trying to understand what it is I could do better. During the conversation, I told them how amazing their kids were and how much I admired them as a family. My friend replied with two words:

I've tried.

Same, my friend. Same.

1 comment:

  1. As always, vulnerable and honest with just a touch of humor. I can't imagine the learning curve you are on, all 3 of you together. But, I know you're all lucky to have one another.