Reality: I have been writing through continuing sludge these past days – and very quickly. I’m not sure how I”m managing to do it (the “quickly” part helps); I’ve been struggling through an on-again off-again migraine, blurred vision, physical exhaustion. But no matter how I feel, there are tasks that need addressing. And there is no slack.
Since pulling an all-nighter with my son, there have been more late nights, his preparation for more standardized exams, my own strained hours working on a deliverable and the need to produce another.
Yesterday, I rose early to wake my son, and I worried, as he insisted on cycling to his exams rather than being driven.
Apparently, my parental radar wasn’t off; he began vomiting on the side of the road partway to his destination. A woman stopped and helped him. They put his bike in her car, she drove him to the testing site, and then she called me.
Hardly a proponent of getting in a car with a stranger, I was nonetheless relieved that my son assessed the situation and made a reasonable judgment call. He had few choices if he was to make it on time. I picked him up following the exams – fed him, and there was still no down time – he needed more art supplies for a project, which he began as soon as we returned home. He worked into the night.
As for the results of the exams? Who knows.
And I have been sleeping on and off since. Popping Excedrin Migraine. Chatting a little with a friend by phone. But I cannot seem to stay focused. Or awake.
Pushing ourselves for our children
There will be more “support” today. And tomorrow. And the next day. Because there are more deadlines this week, research I must do for my son who is already stretched to capacity, as am I. There are deadlines of my own that I must meet – through this haze, through the blurry eyes, through the body’s insistence on sleep.
So here’s the formula: Send Saint Bernards. Big, droopy-eyed, slobbering dogs carting kegs around their necks and not filled with brandy! More coffee. More resolve. More stamina. And in a world where wishes would come true, more than anything – another pair of hands, another pair of eyes, another functioning adult brain to be my son’s sounding board, to run the necessary errands that aren’t optional and that he cannot do on his own, on a bicycle. Another adult to allow me to take a breath, to put pieces of analytical brain back together – to do my own work as well as fulfilling the role of support system.
Solo parenting – what no one talks about
This is and has been my life as a solo parent, which was never a choice. I know – none of us intends life alone, or raising children alone. But let me be a cautionary tale to anyone who imagines taking on solo parenting. Babies are the easy part. As for the rest?
You must have family to help. You must have a support system. You had damn well be young enough and in good health – or I promise you, for all the joy of parenting – you will find yourself winding down from exhaustion, conflicting priorities, and debilitating loneliness.
No mask today. I’m too damn tired and there’s still so much to do. I wear the smile when I can, and it’s been easier lately – the chit chat, the response that “everything is fine” when asked “how are you.” And everything is fine, or at least – better. But I am breaking under the weight of the “everything.” I feel as though I am down for the count, and I cannot be down for the count. I must go another few rounds. I must.
Listening to your body, and not
So I will say “no” to my body today – though yesterday I allowed myself fog and sleep and even conversation though already the content has blurred and the curtain that lifted has dropped heavily again.
My body is saying “stop” and that isn’t in the cards. My anger is brewing, and it is old anger and present anger, justified and too familiar. The anger over “doing it all” and my sense that I’m doing it all badly. Bitterness that one parent all but abandoned his responsibilities years ago – except for those that are convenient. And no attempt to rectify that situation has worked. Ever.
So we keep going. Giving it our all. And I mean – our all. But my children deserve better.
All our children deserve better.