I am a single mother. This sentence, while its entirety does not define me, certainly shapes me. I find myself stating this throughout the events of my life, like the time I thought it excused the actions of my sick child when, after vomiting hot dogs on the grocery store floor, he then pulled a huge jar of pickles down off the shelves crashing down upon others. I stood paralyzed in fear as other parents, with their carts full of – I’m sure – nothing more than organic food for their kids because they were perfect, judged me. As pickle juice ran off my face and down my strands of hair, I quietly muttered, “I’m so sorry, I’m a single mom,” hoping that I unlocked some secret Fry’s VIP Card Society of mothers who “knew” the chaos I endured day in and out. They all ran to my side; one lady even volunteered her perfect little scarf to mop my pickle juice. Scarves to me were for mothers who had time to match their clothes. I did not own a scarf.
Another time, I was at my dentist’s office after having put off my appointment for years. (Side note – I guarantee my mother just let out a disapproving groan, raised her eyebrow, and pointed to this article to show my father that I haven’t gone to the dentist in years. She will have called me twice to see when my next appointment is by the time you finish reading this.) Anyway, I was at my dentist and he informed me that I needed a root canal. I ran through a million excuses why I couldn’t have one scheduled; I was leaving the country, I had a rare disease making drilling impossible, I had PTSD about drill noises, my insurance had lapsed, etc. but instead, in the midst of breathing cotton candy flavored laughing gas, I began uncontrollably crying and I blurted out that I was a single mother. The receptionist walked by, looked at me disapprovingly over her spectacles, and rolled her eyes. On the way out she asked if my appointment was “ok with my toddler.” Gross. My single parent status hadn’t worked in my favor. Clearly she wasn’t a part of the Organic Buying Secret Society of Fry’s VIP moms.
I share that I’m a single parent because soon after the hot dog vomit/pickle juice incident, I decided that I could either laugh about my life or I would have to find the nearest mental hospital. Since my insurance nearly lapsed when it was time for a root canal, I’d better not chance it. (Side note – my mother will have just called again, and when I answered she will have gotten a real serious tone and said, ‘honey, when did your insurance lapse?’) So…I laugh.
I have two boys. Big is 12 going on 40. He has such an old soul, and has always been calm, soothing and cuddly. When he was 5, I had influenza. I vaguely remember having enough energy to give him a roll of masking tape to play with. He slept on the floor of my room rolling the masking tape into little tubes and sticking them on his head so he looked like Shrek. I had family/friends come check on us and I’d answer my phone and whisper, “I’m dying,” and as my voice faded I always managed to squeak, “and I’m a single mom.” I felt like it added more drama. Big took excellent care of me and continues to be the man of the house to this day.
Little is four. He’s the polar opposite of Big. He’s loud, destructive, defiant, definitely not a snuggle bug and a total smart a**. He remembers everything and I’m 99% positive he owns a laptop, and hides it under the slide in his room to chronicle all my horrible parenting skills and he’ll use them against me in a court of law in the years to come. The other night I sautéed some zucchini and he stared me down so intently that I had BEADS OF SWEAT forming on my head. He demanded that I remove the questionable vegetable from his plate and we sat watching each other for a good five minutes. I panicked and threw the zucchini away. In the instant they hit the trash can, Little crossed his eyes Satanically and told me to “remember this.” I’m sure it got chronicled in the laptop. The next 14 years should be sheer bliss.
Me? I’m a career driven woman. I have three jobs that I do in addition to parenting. In ALL my free time I’m shuttling the boys to all their extra-curricular activities and spending time with my family that is in Prescott. (Side note – my phone will have just rang for the third time, and it’s my mother. She will have just told me that I lied in my column and that she feels neglected because I never see her. My father will be shaking his head disapprovingly that I have overshared.)
I look forward to continuing to share parts my life and the hysterical stories of my children with you; because in the end, all we can do is laugh together as parents. We’re in it together; us against them!