Single Mom Diaries: A Typical Day

5:30 AM: The sound of my alarm wakes me. She is asleep in my bed so I fumble in the dark, find my phone, and silence the alarm. Resist the temptation of “10 more minutes”.

I rise.

Make coffee. Sit quietly. And think about… nothing.

6:30 AM: His alarm breaks the silence. She cries, not a fan of the mornings. He moves quickly, silently. She is slow and angry.

I rise.

Make the best of what I’ve been given. Catch a glimpse in the mirror and think “you look good… enough.”

Smile. Pull her hair into a ponytail, kiss her sweet cheeks, and remind her she is loved.

There are ants in the shower. Tiny red ants. I want to pull the shower curtain back and walk away. Avoidance. My preferred coping method.

I rise.

Grab a can of ant spray and cover the tub. The room fills with fumes. I close the door.

7:30 AM: Drive to school. Tell them you love them. Tell them to be brave and kind. To be a friend and a blessing. Remind them learning is a privilege, and education is a gift.

Wave goodbye. Smile. Breathe.

The kids are all right. They are happy, smart, and kind. They love well. Breathe.

Drive to work and think of all the things you left undone. Make a mental list. Remember to carry over items from yesterday’s list. Cross-off items that are over a month old.

Hope they really…weren’t…THAT…important.

8:00 AM: Arrive at work.

Focus. Smile. Wave. Exchange pleasantries. Make a new list. Write this one down. Everything is important. EVERYTHING is THE MOST important.

Prioritize. Strategize. Focus.

Ignore the phone when the school calls to remind you of the papers you didn’t sign.

Ignore your parents when they call to see how things are going. You’ll call them back.

Add it to the list. The other list. The one that only grows.

Interestingly enough, ignoring the boy who DIDN’T call is harder than ignoring the one who DID. Ignore them both.

Focus. Plan. Work.

4:30 PM: If you leave now you’ll beat traffic. They will make it to practice on time. Coach will be happy. Kids will be happy. If you leave now everyone wins.

If you leave NOW, tomorrow… WILL BE HARDER.

I rise.

5:30 PM: Drop them off at the pool. You want to stay and watch them practice like your mother did. Like the other mothers do.

No.

You want to WANT to stay and watch them practice. You are tired and thankful for a break.

You’ll use the time to read books, and write stories. Plan vacations. Clean the garage. Clean the kitchen. Paint. Fix things. Learn to cook. Ride a bike. Exercise.

6:15 PM: Put a pin in all your plans. Be happy that you let the dog out, started a load of laundry, and made a decision for dinner. Pasta… again.

7:15 PM: Home. Showers. Cook… something. Anything. Fresh. Balanced. MUST SERVE VEGETABLES. Sit with them. Talk to them. Ask them about their day. Smile. Laugh. Teach them to keep their elbows off the table. Offer them more while you eat less. Resist the temptation to clean while they eat. Hope they don’t notice, you’re not hungry… again.

Send them to brush their teeth while you take care of the mess. Pat yourself on the back. You are very good at cleaning messes you didn’t make.

Breathe.

8:45 PM: Bed. 20 minutes of reading or, “the teacher will get mad”.

9:00 PM: 1 minute more and I will go mad. Close the books and your eyes.

I rise.

Kiss foreheads. Pull blankets. Tell them I love them. Tell them they are my treasures. My people. Turn off the lights and walk away.

9:30 PM: “Can I sleep with you?”

No.

“Why not?”

Because mommy wants to sleep alone.

“You’re mean.”

Then because I am mean. Goodnight.

Who are we?

“The 3 musketeers!”

All for 1.

“And 1 for all!”

I smile. They are happy and fast asleep before I start to cry. Not because I am sad. I am not sad. Because I am tired, and it’s Monday. And tomorrow my alarm will wake me up at 5:30 AM, and she will be in my bed. And I am not sure I can do it all again.

But I will rise.

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