The whispered voice is heard coming from my open bedroom door. My seven year old walks over to me, sweating and pale.
Mom. I just vomited.
I settled back into my bed and sat up, pushing off the warm covers. I wrapped my arms around him and helped him get cleaned up.
I apologize, Mother. My stomach is in pain, Mother.
I quiet him and comfort him. Covering his trembling body with the cozy blankets.
I had to clean up more than two hours later. It was a messy situation. It’s time to clean up now. I sigh and then turn around.
Obtain commitments to organize enjoyable activities. Preparations for the week are underway. I need to complete the thank you cards. Today, I fulfilled my promise to paint pumpkins with my 4-year-old. There are no sick children in my house to take care of. I need to go grocery shopping, clean, and do the laundry. It’s a busy day for me. We all wake up together.
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Attempting to juggle everything. Commuting on a daily basis. Taking baths. Yet another hectic work week. A concert that I had planned several months in advance. An appointment for therapy. Visits to the dentist. Memorizing spelling words. I am completely worn out. Mentally reviewing the week ahead in my mind. I sip on my second cup of coffee as I switch my third batch of laundry.
Knowing that he would listen to me and support me, I could unload and call him when I became emotional and overwhelmed. As I walked through the door that night, the person who had always been there for me took some of the burden off my shoulders. Yet, I remember how lonely I was, staying at home with a newborn in the early days. Motherhood can be a lonely place.
We would look at each other and laugh, amazed and proud that their child has only one parent. It was enjoyable and fun, connecting us as silly parts. It wasn’t just hard.
The connection that once existed has disappeared. What remains are feelings of grief and sadness for what we are each lacking. One connection was forced upon us, while the other was a choice. The support that used to be given is no longer present. Instead, there is a tendency to avoid any conflicts or problems that arise. The boys’ dad and I still share stories and cute pictures with each other. However, it is not the same as before.
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If you are wondering, there will be enough love present. No one is screwing us up as parents, so there is no need to worry. No one tells me to take a nap and lay down. No one shares the responsibility of school homework and appointment bills. When there is an epic meltdown, no one is standing next to me, bringing tears to all of us. No one joins in the Nerf gun fights or spontaneous dance parties. No one helps me clean up when sickness strikes. There is no one at the door coming in at night.
I am sincerely thankful for how they will never be able to show. They give me and my boys so much support and love. I worry, however, that I am a burden. I have my friends. I have my family. It becomes too much when everything is added together.
It becomes rough when the nights turn into rough days, struggling to make it to bedtime. But I overcome it with love and I stare at my sleeping sons. I whisper a thank you to God. I kiss their soft cheeks and brush their hair back. I am holding this moment in my heart. I am so exhausted that I can’t even let out the tears. Knowing that I have to wake up in a few short hours to do it all over again. Feeling sad. Feeling spent.
I still harbor resentment towards certain moments. If we had the opportunity to save our life and family, we would have done anything, knowing that I didn’t want this kind of life.
Embracing single motherhood is a continuous journey.
Solitary. Flourishing, existing, monetary resources, employed, recuperating, romantic relationships, parenthood, maturity. Balancing the burden of overwhelming obligations, overwhelming the with day-to-day challenges, I am not just a single mom. I am a woman who never envisioned this life for herself. I am not only a single mom.
It is a solitary place, lone parenthood. One that tries to overwhelm me. One that urges me to persevere.
One that compels me to discover resilience I never knew was present.
This article initially appeared on the writer’s blog.