Day 47 - Single Motherhood, JK Rowling & Chicken Pox
I got home from work last night at 8:15 pm. Another long day on the books. I was tired. Weary from the week that was only mid way done. I had spent the entire day slogging along desperately trying to act as if I was happy to be out of bed. Really wanting to jump back into my bed all damn day. So I persevered. I made it the whole day...until 8:15 pm.
When I arrived home my children greeted me with the same argument they have every day. I was irritated, tired and was not in the mood for what was going down. My daughter had taken several of my things and not put them back. My son took a bath, turned the bathtub blue and then left it a mess. My mom gave me a less than stellar report on the kid’s behavior. I was fucking tired and not in the mood...
My mom went home. My son went to bed. My daughter and I were talking when she said...
“Mom, I have all these bug bites all over my body and they itch and they hurt.”
I froze. My internal dialogue of irritation and exhaustion interrupted by...
Yep, you guessed it - CHICKEN POX!
I checked her out and she does in fact have them everywhere except her face, blessedly. Both kids were vaccinated so I felt a little better believing that they might be shorter in duration and milder. I called my son in, checked him out and yep, he has them too. He is less affected but he has the same spots all over his torso.
UGH! Fuckity, fuck, FUCK!
I gave them both some medicine for the pain and itch and sent them to bed. Looks like my morning will be spent at the doctor getting a confirmed diagnosis...
Truth be told, I am grateful. I am happy that today I can stay home, stay in my sweats and work from home. I am happy that I don’t have to go into the office. I am relieved that I can rest today too.
I know, weird thing to be grateful for but today I am grateful for chicken pox...they have given me a sick day and I don’t have to be the one who is sick!
When I woke up this morning, I looked at Facebook. A luxury of a day that I do not have to be out of the house by 7:15. I know, stupid thing to do first thing but I was not wanting to get up and so I allowed myself to lay there and just numb out for a minute.
I saw a post from a woman that used to be a neighbor who has recently become a single mother of two little kids against her will. She was reaching out because she was struggling to find her balance with mothering and working - she wanted advice. I felt I had to comment. I mean who knows better than me what it is like to juggle a career and motherhood alone?
Here is what I said to her:
Be nice to yourself.
You can’t do it all.
No one can.
Get up every day and do your best. Recognize some days your best will be amazing and other days not so much.
Trust your gut.
Let the 27 things on your list go.
Do the essential - self care, kids, work.
Realize there will be days that order will get all screwed up.
Try again tomorrow.
Ask for help. Yes with the laundry. Or dishes. Or a shoulder to cry on.
Put yourself first because it’s all riding on you.
You won’t fail because you love those kids and they are your motivation.
Ask for help.
Breathe and find 5 minutes of quiet every day. Dedicate that time to you as a woman.
Remember this will change. Your children will grow up.
Make sure you live so that you like yourself in this process.
Ask for help.
Be proud of yourself for being amazing, strong and fierce.
Because you are.
Yep, that is what I have learned being a single mom. I have actually learned a lot more than that but that is a pretty good summary. I am going to read that every day because even though I wrote it, I don’t remember it often.
I can remember when I was recently separated and moving back to California from Florida. The kids and I were in Ojai visiting and I was looking for a place to live. Against all odds, I found a place. I was going to sign the lease the next day. We were staying at a friend’s beach house, the kids were asleep and I was awake...panicking.
I felt completely alone as I wandered through the foreign house. My children sleeping peacefully. Overwhelmed by all that I was about to undertake. Doubting myself. Doubting my abilities, stamina, fortitude, strength, endurance. I was almost in full panic mode when the phone rang. It was this guy that I had been on a couple of dates with. I didn’t really want to talk to him. But he was a welcome distraction...I answered. I am so glad that I did. He asked how I was and I told him the truth. I cried while I told him all the things I was terrified of:
Letting my kids down
Not being able to support myself and kids
Not having a life of my own
Getting sick from the exhaustion of what I was about to undertake
Drinking from the sheer stress of it all.
He listened while I talked. He listened for a long time. Then he said this:
"I have heard all that you are concerned about. You are right to be worried and concerned. It is a lot. A lot for anyone to undertake. You are terrified to let those kids down. You are scared that you will fail. But what I heard underneath all you said was a fierce determination to not fail. Those kids are a source of fear but they are also you biggest motivation. You can’t fail because you are an amazing mom and you love them so you will not let them down."
Levi - 52 - Tinder.
And just like that, my greatest fears were transformed into motivation. I went back to Florida, sold the house, packed it up, drove my daughter, 4 cats, 3 dogs and a parrot across the United States. Camped the entire way across. Arrived 6 days later with all beings alive and in tact with just some new grey hair for my trouble.
And that has been my story. Over and over again. I have handled it all...every day. Not perfectly, not completely but I have done it. Every damn day. Handled being a single mom, working a more than full time job and making sure that I am taken care of in the process. Maintaining some semblance of balance for all of us. Certainly not all the time, but overall, I think I have kinda done a great fucking job.
What is most important is that I didn’t do it alone. My kids helped. I got the most amazing nanny there could ever be. After a year, my parents made a huge sacrifice and moved to my town to be close to me and their grandchildren. Not because I needed them to but because they wanted to.
So with some amazing help, some minor and a few major fuck ups, grit, my girlfriends and a lot of fucking laughter, I have handled being a single mom like a boss. Chicken pox...prepare to to be vanquished. That is just how I roll.