8:30 p.m. and I am exhausted. Day 3 of 1 kid home sick; day 26 of husband living elsewhere. Save a few trips to the bathroom, I’m sitting down for the first time since I woke up. In some ways my life as a single mom is easier, in some ways it is not. The change was gradual and gave me time to both get used to and resent it. The ease comes from simpler dinners, less dishes, less complaining, less disappointment, more laughter and flexibility. The difficulty comes from no one to pass the parenting hat to when I’m spent and no one to lift heavy stuff or take out the trash.
My 6 year-old has realized this change might not be temporary and he’s not happy about it. He’s dealing with it in ways that make sense to his 6 year-old brain. While he hasn’t come right out and asked us to reconcile, he spent the better part of an afternoon setting-up a “wedding” he wants his father and I to act out in our living room. He also insists he’s not ready for 1st grade next year, and wants to stay in kindergarten one more year. He doesn’t want anymore change in his life and I don’t blame him.
I’m as honest as I can be with him. I listen when he wants to talk. I take him to see a counselor. I tell him that I know this is a hard time, that I’m sorry, and that it will get better soon. I remind him daily how much his dad and I love him and his brother and that we will always be a family.
We’re making it. Some days I’m sweet and patient and everyone (mostly) gets their needs met. Other days I’m a cranky mess and we spend most of the day barking at each other or moping around in our PJs watching movies. I’m getting better at just accepting myself for whatever I am on any given day. I’m getting better at accepting whatever the day brings.
I put this acceptance into practice the other night when, a half hour before bed time, I accidentally gave my boys mocha lattes. How does one accidentally give their 4 and 6 year-olds lattes? Let’s just say I’ve written a letter to the nice folks at Ghiradelli suggesting they make their hot cocoa and instant coffee containers look a bit less alike.
Anyway, once I realized that my kids were jacked-up on caffeine, I shrugged my shoulders, cranked some tunes and gave in to the mayhem. We had a blast and laughed more than we have in months. I thought to myself, “this is how I’d always pictured family life: equal parts fun and insanity.” I see a light at the end of the tunnel; I just hope we’re all in one piece when we get there.