The Ongoing Challenges of the Only Parent

03_25_09.JPGI think one of the bigger adjustments of all of my big adjustments to widowhood was the status as Only Parent. Only Parent is different from single parent in some situations, although very similar in lots of ways. I think one of the biggest differences is in the filling out of forms. Those damn forms. You know, the ones that say: married, single, widowed? I used to cry at the sight of that question. Legally I guess I’m required to pick Widow. Sometimes I am tempted to check all three – I am or have been all three, now it just depends on my mood. ;-)

The less humorous blanks on a form, even three years later, are the blanks that read: Father’s name, Father’s address, etc. For a while I would fill those in with Daniel’s name and information, out of sheer stubbornness. Unfortunately the end result of my mini-rebellion would be confusion and embarrassment as the person reading the form would then ask more questions, or ask if my husband wanted to volunteer, assistant coach, attend career day, etc. Finally, reality set in and I began to leave those blanks as they were: blank.

Just a few weeks ago, I was registering my 8 year old son for spring football. The registration was on-line and I entered all of my information and hit the “submit” button. An error message popped up informing me that my registration could not be completed without my husband’s information. Annoyed, I entered all of my information into the father’s section, erased the mother’s information and tried to submit it that way. Much to my relief, it couldn’t be submitted that way either. At least they were equal opportunity. I would have gone through the roof if the father’s information was required and the mother’s was optional!

So, back to my dilemma: I had to have some information in both the mother’s and father’s blanks in order to submit, but I didn’t want to put Daniel’s information in the blanks. In a week they’d be calling my number asking for him and hoping he’d be a coach. I definitely didn’t want to field that call, but I couldn’t leave it blank and submit, so what should I do? In a fit of self-righteous anger, I entered the words: “father deceased” in the blank and hit submit. Bingo, my submission was successful! “Jackasses” I thought to myself, “that will teach them to make that a required field.” I was really ticked off by the whole process and shared the ridiculous story with several friends.

Last week I received a team email from our new football coach. He was excited to be our coach, and much to my delight our team was going to be the Longhorns. Being a University of Texas alum, I was thrilled to be able to cheer for the longhorns this season. The coach had attached the team roster to the email and asked each parent to review their contact information and notify him of any necessary edits. Dutifully, I reviewed the roster to find this listing:

Player: Grayson Dippel 
Mother: Michelle Dippel 
Father: Father Deceased

My first thought was: “you have got to be kidding me.” My second thought was: “that poor coach, he’s going to hate getting my email.” I really did feel bad for him. The poor guy’s only fault in the situation was not reviewing the auto-generated list the league sent him before he sent it out. Obviously the online form fed a spreadsheet, and automatically recorded the mother’s and father’s names as they were submitted. I had to send him a very nice email asking him to please remove that entry from the form, to which he sent a very anxious and apologetic reply: “of course, Ms. Dippel, I am so sorry, we’ll have that removed right away!” Poor man, he was probably disturbed by that for more than a few moments.

I just can’t wait to get to our first practice! What fun! Coach Patrick will likely be terribly embarrassed and awkward, and I’ll have to try to put him at ease. Oh well, I’ve become a professional at that. At least because of this snafu I won’t have to answer the question: “And what about your husband, will he want to volunteer? I think they must have left his information off of the list…..” Not this time. That’s the upside: this time they know the score before the game even begins!


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