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Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Don't Want To Be A Single Parent

I never ever ever ever want to be a single parent.

Alex has been out of town for the past 5 days. I was as sick as a dog the first three days: migraine from rainy weather, Ella's cold that she was nice enough to share, and terrible allergies. Fun stuff. The kids have been normal, so that's a good thing I guess. Not more challenging than usual, but normal-challenging. Ella was thoughtful enough to wake me up every morning at 5:30, so I didn't need to set an alarm. Ben and Jonah were often my bookends of the night- Ben usually wakes me up just after I fall asleep, and Jonah wakes me up just before Ella wakes me for the day. Ella's been having bad dreams, so she wakes up in the middle somewhere and shoves me over in bed and climbs in. 

Ben had a tough time dealing with Daddy being gone. His sadness over missing Dad was tangible, especially at night. Usually when Dad is gone and Ben is missing him, he wears Daddy's clothes around the house. He globs around in a shirt and "squishy pants" from Daddy's closet that are about 13 sizes too big, ties them up with a belt and wears a smile from the comfort that Dad's clothes bring him. This time Dad has been gone, Ben decided it was a good idea to use Dad's cologne as a way to comfort himself. I thought this was sort of ingenious. Until Ben's room began to wreak of cologne. He sprayed his blankie with it every night and snuggled into a Daddy Smell with a smile. After wiping the tears away. He also sprayed the cologne into the fan as it blew, so the smell was distributed throughout his room. What you have to take into consideration is that Ben also has a cold, and his smeller is broken. So in order to effectively smell Dad, he has to spray a billion times more cologne just to smell a hint of it. Nice. Ben's room will smell like Dad for the next 40 years.

Of course the van broke. So I had to get that taken in to the fix-it shop. Apparently things are leaking and things shaped like a Y are broken. Who knows. It's all Greek to me. Luckily we have Alex's car home to schlep people around in. 

Yesterday my sweet mother-in-law came to my rescue; I had double booked because I thought Alex would be home to help out. So Jonah needed to be at a psychiatrist appointment at the same time Ella needed to be dropped off at camp. In opposite directions of course. So Grandma dropped Ella off while I took Jonah to the psychiatrist. Then he and I ran to the grocery store. Then we got home, put the groceries away, and Grandma drove down to the fix-it shop with me so I could drop the van off and come home in her car. Then I cleaned up dog vomit while Grandma cleaned up the ants that were eating a lost cracker on the kitchen floor. Then Jonah needed help sewing his new pillow. Then I left to get Ella from camp. Grandma took the three boys to Panera, where we were going to meet for lunch. On my way over, Grandma called me so that I wouldn't freak out when I saw the scene. Aidan had pinched his finger really badly in the bathroom door, and was wailing his head off. They were sitting outside on the sidewalk in front of Panera, Aidan screaming, with a bag of ice on his hand. Pinching your finger that badly really does hurt.

I held Aidan close to me while Grandma took the other kiddos inside to try and figure out what to eat. The Panera manager came outside to make sure Aidan was ok. She said there was a place right across the street where they could do an X-ray to see if he had broken his finger. She asked AIDAN if he thought he should go get an X-ray. He nodded at her through tear-leaking eyes, and said in a wobbly voice "Yes, I think I need an X-ray. I think I'm dying." 

I had already done my Mommy Emergency Assessment and knew that there were no broken bones. I said no, we're not going to waste time and money and energy and tears going to get a needless X-ray. Believe me when I tell you, I'm sort of an expert on pinched fingers. I do have four little children, after all. So Aidan wailed at me with anger because he felt certain he needed an X-ray and I had foiled his plans. 

We decided eventually that Aidan was ok enough to go in and try some lunch. My family was milling aimlessly around. They hadn't ordered yet and Jonah was having a snit about something. So lunch was completely chaotic. We got food in front of people, some ate, some didn't. I didn't even order until everyone was almost done, and took my food to go because who knows when I'll have time to eat some days. Ella cried through part of lunch because she had some owie that seemed imaginary to me, but I'm sure was real to her. Aidan continued to cry through parts of lunch too. Jonah was irritable through all of lunch. Ben felt so badly about being with Aidan when he pinched his finger, that he kept trying to find ways to comfort Aidan. I just held Aidan on my lap and tried to feed him soup. And get the lunch over with as soon as possible and get the heck out of there, because it was a disaster.

On the way to the car, I apologized to Grandma for the chaos. We laughed and she said "It's not like this every day, is it?" I didn't know how to answer. Because most days are like this. Some are even crazier, some are better because we don't have as many injuries, but every single day is just nuts. My days start at 5:30am and since the kids don't take Clonidine anymore, they go to bed later. So my day ends about 9pm. I get about one hour to myself every day. Literally. Because there is always someone who needs something-- a shoe tied, a butt wiped, a snack, vomit cleaned up, a toy fixed, a lost thing found, a book to be read, a back to be patted, a bandaid to be found, sunscreen to be put on, a bike tire to be pumped. There is always something fun I want to do with the kids-- make glitter clay, play with shaving cream, go to the pool or the zoo or the library or a park. And of course you have to make sure the kids have at least one clean shirt and pair of shorts, make sure they take a shower or bath ONCE in a while, make sure they are fed, make sure the dishes get washed and the dog gets fed and walked, give everyone all their meds twice a day, we get to all our therapy and doctor's appointments, and change those pee sheets every single morning. Throw in a few dozen fights you have to break up, a couple of intense ragey moments that you have to de-escalate, a hundred or so irritable moments that you have to diffuse and redirect, and many "I'm bored" hours that you have to navigate. And when you finish doing all those things, there is exactly one hour left in the day to do anything you want. And by that time, I'm so completely exhausted, I don't want to write, or read, or talk, or think. So I watch a mindless TV show and crawl into bed. So I'm ready to do it all again in a few hours. 

This is why I neglect my brother and parents and friends and neighbors. It's not that I don't desperately love and miss them. It's not that I don't feel lonely. It's that I am so completely and thoroughly exhausted, I don't even have the energy to speak. This week has been especially tough because Alex has been gone, but every day is like this. I love to be with friends and talk to my family on the phone and blog and read and paint…I just am too tired. Being a single parent, even for a week, is exhausting. Being a single parent of four kids who have special needs is…there isn't a word for how tiring it is. Of course we've had special, beautiful moments this week too. But boy, am I tired. 

Alex is due home tonight. His first flight got cancelled. He got on a different one. Which got delayed. We'll see when he actually gets home. Meanwhile, I'm just praying for energy. And patience. And thanking the sweet Lord in Heaven that I am not a single parent all the time.

1 comment:

Full Spectrum Mama said...

yes, it is very different. the gratitude is great and so is giving our single parent sisters the props they deserve - i've been both and lemme tell ya...