I’m not a single parent and I don’t play one on TV. But… butbutbut… this last 3 weeks I have been ‘solo-parenting’ while the man has been away laying the foundation for his bliss and let me just tell you… hard stuff. Seriously. I feel like I’ve been in boot camp. And I don’t like it.
The first week he was gone was relatively easy breezy, I was feeling all blissed out that he was following his bliss and the Universe was throwing down big “Bliss: this way” signs for me too. Bliss bliss bliss.
The second week, the big kids landed back home for what can only be described as a hell week. I should have invited a gaggle of teenagers over to watch what went down because that was some surefire birth control right there. While they’re normally an intense pair, Hopper (5 almost 6y) was off the charts. She was having some extreme separation anxiety from the ex and while I love her to pieces (PIECES) I wanted to sell her on eBay, or leave her on the church steps, or something. Her first night home it took her 5 (yes, that’s the number FIVE) hours to go to sleep from when we started bedtime routines. I. Wanted. To. Die. And I wasn’t altogether nice the whole time. Poor Pip (10y) didn’t know what to do with her and he tried to help me but at 10pm he was like ‘yo mama, can I go to bed please?’. I really didn’t want him to go. Seriously. I needed the extra body around because Hopper wouldn’t let me leave her room. These are some of the favored phrases of the night: “You can’t leave, I’ll be ALONE!” (we were all still upstairs, my door is two feet from her door, we share a wall), “I want/need/miss mommy” (mommy is the othermother, I’m mama), “I don’t want to be here” (and there’s the stake into my heart). I didn’t take it personally (she says, gripping the edges of reality, knuckles white). But the cloying, the whining, the drama, the sobbing (with no tears) if I left the room for more than a fraction of a second. Oy!
I’m still trying to wrangle my guilt about the situation. I wasn’t nearly as nurturing as I wanted to be. We were all so tired and so spent by the end of it. And it was only the first night.
The second night started out just as bad, but I really just gave up without a fight and let her fall asleep watching a movie (and after taking a melatonin). She fights the melatonin though – girl has got some skills. Two hours after the melatonin and one hour into the movie she’d been sleeping for about 30 minutes. I tried to take her upstairs. That would be a fail; had to carry her 40lb half-asleep self back down the stairs and wait until the movie was over.
The third night it started at 4:45, long before bedtime, but after a Karate practice that the othermother attended (had to get that photo of her getting her new belt, apparently I can’t be trusted to take pictures). As soon as we got in the car, cue audio track from previous nights “I miss/need/want to be with mommy”. Now, at this point in the game, I’d asked her in as many ways as I could think (and I used to interview kids as part of my job, so mama’s got her own skills in this area) why she doesn’t want to be here… why does she want so desperately to be with the othermother? She had nothing for me.
Finally, what can only be described as God himself coming down and sticking this little idea in my head, I suggested that she write mommy a note to tell her that she misses here. We got her a notebook, pencil and large envelope and away she went. I’m not quite sure why, but it totally worked. (Cue parting of the heavens, streaming sunlight, choral ensemble hitting high note). The next day she says to me “I don’t feel sad about missing mommy anymore”. Cha-ching.
And just in time because I seriously thought I was going to lose my mind. I kept calling the man and venting and there was just not a single thing he could do but remind me that she’s only five and for some reason her little heart was feeling broken. Totally easy to do when you’re a 10 hr car ride away.
I hadn’t quite recovered from that when we made plans to stay at my mom’s for the weekend. The goal (which was moderately successful) was to have distractions for the big kids (pool, swings, playhouse, Memere, Pepere and an assortment of other relatives) and an extra set of hands (or two) for the small one.
Friday morning, when I should have been packing for our weekend, I stumbled on this post on Overcoming Overwhelm. Very timely as I had been stretching myself way too thin and trying to wrap myself around some perfect solo-mama of three kids ideology. I nodded through her video and reminded myself that I needed to stop trying to be super-mama and just roll back to the basics.
Not 3 hours later I would be found scrambling around my house with a grouchy baby who was refusing a nap strapped to me in the Ergo, sweating, swearing, and trying to gather belongings and food for all of us. Because we’re allergic to everything (and the list keeps getting bigger for me by the day), I often bring a good portion of our food, or at least accoutrements as we can get by on your basic plain meat and veggies when we’re away from home. I was rushing because I told my mom we’d be there at a certain time. I was carrying the baby because the nap I expected him to take, he did not. I was exhausted because instead of pack in the morning, or nap with him in the morning, I screwed off and did nothing because I’m so mentally exhausted I’m really not prioritizing well at all.
The weekend was fine but I never really got a chance to recover. On top of solo-parenting 24/7 the baby decided to start dragging himself from one end of our very un-childproofed house to another (not exactly crawling, but same result). If that all doesn’t knock you on your ass, I don’t know what would. I’m spent. Like a floppy deflated balloon. I think of trying to carve out the time to write, or even read for that matter, and I’m like… seriously? My mental capacity is on “E”. I went into the bathroom to get the baby’s potty and walked out with the drying rack. Really now.
Thankfully, the man is coming home tomorrow (oh sweet heavens THANK YOU). I’m pretty certain I could not do this for another day. Well, aside from tomorrow, not one more day. I love him, profoundly so, but he may not see me for two days other than to bring me the baby to eat because I intend to do some hardcore sleeping, maybe a walk or two on the beach even (who am I kidding, drive to the beach, walk to sand, sit for an hour listening to waves, drive home – we live a mile from the beach – yea, THAT tired).
My hope is to regain enough energy to devote some to figuring out how I got here, exactly, and how I can avoid this next time.