Single Mother

*updated as the day progresses*

6:46 a.m. It’s unclear if the sound of rain gurgling down the gutters wakes me, or if it’s the cold little feet my daughter under my side as she flops sleepily, arms akimbo, in the pre-dawn light. When I fell asleep to the muted monologue of Letterman, I was alone in my bed, but as happens so often now, I wake with one or several little people pushing on my warmth and needing mama.

7:20 a.m. All three of them are in bed with me now, watching Handy Manny, and I am slowly being shoved towards the peripherara of the bed, as sleepy snuggling gives way gradually, as the room lightens in the gray pallor of the drizzly day. Bean’s ability to tolerate jostling and touch diminishes as his hunger kicks in, and the clock is ticking to get him fed before he tanks.

7:30 In the kitchen, the weather makes me feel like making a nice breakfast, and I whip up a batch of cinnamon crumble muffins and throw them in the oven. I like the sound of rain and the cozy feeling in the kitchen. Abby comes in to offer her “help” but I am distracted as I try and look over my homework while the muffins cook. I had an assignment due yesterday, but I know I have some leeway and if I turn it in by Monday, I should be fine. I shoo her out of the kitchen and start some bacon popping in my cast iron skillet while I think about post-colonial Africa.

7:54 Breakfast is on the table, and I even lit a candle to make it feel cozy and homey. I call the kids. I can hear cartoons and giggle-bickering. I holler louder- breakfast is ready! Still nothing. For some reason, this ticks me off. I have so many other things I could be doing besides fixing a hot, homemade breakfast, and they can’t even come eat? I am in a sour mood now, and when they do come to the table, Bean immediately yelps and runs to hide, because his muffin is in the shape of a heart and not a circle. Dammit, why did I even try?

8:00 Bean is back at the table after I wrangle him out of his squeeze-spot with much honking. They eat their nice home-made breakfast in the kitchen without me. I’m not hungry and I am crying in my room– quietly, because I don’t want them to hear me. I turn on PBS and watch through angry tears as some guy makes dovetail cuts in a beautiful piece of wood with a hand chisel.

8:22 The kids are off playing, and drag myself to the kitchen as start a load of dishes and clean up from breakfast. So much work for only a few fleeting minutes of happiness. Do they care that I do these things? Does it make a difference? Should I just have given them cold cereal? No, I can’t do that. Bean only eats specific things, and I pay for it if he doesn’t get them. We all do, including him. This is another series of questions to which there is no answer, and only time will show the return on investment.

9:00 Bean has requested that I move his therapy hammock from my room into the TV room so he can watch movies in it. It really calms him down when he comes unwound, and I’m game for moving it. Any time he can tell me what he needs with actual words I am grateful and try to do it. Unfastening the hammock from the bracket in my ceiling joist, I realize I have no tools to install a new bracket- X took all the drills and drivers. Digging in the kitchen junk drawer, I find a hammer with part of the claw missing, some screwdrivers, and one mangy crescent wrench. I can make this work.

9:40 After hammering small holes in the ceiling to determined the direction of the joists, I find a good spot and attach the anchors. It’s hard, since I have no drill to make pilot holes, but I use a screwdriver as a lever to get some torque on the eyebolts, and get them seated well with some elbow grease. Standing on one of the kid’s chairs to reach the ceiling, I am still holding a wrench in my hand as I clamp the carabiner, and the wrench slips and smacks me in the mouth. My lip is bleeding, but my teeth seem intact.

10:00 I sit down to crack my textbooks and start on my post-colonial Africa paper. The kids are happily playing in the basement, the dishwasher is finishing the dishes, and it’s cozy and warm at the kitchen table. I get about a page and a half written- it’s a decent start, and I was only interrupted three times by kids’ needs and to wipe a bottom. Bean is very happy and content with his new hammock location, and I am reaping a small reward. The Wii is babysitting so I can get those pages written.

11:00 I realize I’m hungry, and since everyone is still happy and occupied, I think cooking myself something sounds therapeutic and nice. On my counter are some plump late-summer onions brought over by some friends from church– I slice them up and get the caramelizing– still not sure what I’m going to make, but caramelized onions are always a good start. A long time ago, I learned not to toss apple or potato peels down the disposal. It seems the same applies to onion skins. Just as the onion was beginning to sizzle, I turned on the disposal and it erupted all over the kitchen. Reaching behind me I flip off the stove.

11:25 Everything under the kitchen sink is on the floor, and I have unscrewed all the pipes and cleaned them out. There is a pile of towels and a bucket full of nasty water than I decide pouring in the toilet is the best plan. It was a good choice. Briefly I had contemplated calling my HT when I thought I had fixed it the first time and water shot up all over my clothes. I wiped at the hot tears that sprung to my eyes and screwed up my resolve. I can do this. It’s all put back together, and so far no leaks, and the disposal is emptying again. I just have to start a load of towels.

12:00 I sit down to carmelized onions with goat cheese on a gluten-free slice of bread. It’s astoundingly delicious. I can hear Bean has found his trumpet, and this makes me smile. He loves that thing- we had lost it in the move. I  found it last night cleaning out a box. I microwave myself a cup of peppermint tea and realize no one has had a bath or shower yet, and I have to get us to the grocery store. Shoving aside the paper I’m working on, I remember the test I have to prep for too. If I play my cards right, I should be able to get to it all. I lag a little, enjoying the warm cup of tea in my hands. It’s still raining, and heading to the grocery store on a Saturday with all three kids is… not my favorite. But it cannot be avoided.

1:27 Still trying to get everyone out the door. All are finally dressed and clean- but it’s like herding cats. I get one shod and coated and near the door, and the one I wasn’t paying attention to bolts. Jeffrey is the only child cooperating, and Abby is weeping because she left her favorite fluffy coat at preschool and the world must stop. Bean will not stop trumpeting his bugle, and Jeff is ready to kill him. I really hope my cloth grocery bags are in the car. One in the car, two headed out the door. Still no progress on homework.

2:31 Well, that was fun. The grocery store with Bean is always a… challenge. All those colors and smells just put him over the edge, so we practically run through with our list and get the heck out of dodge. He ran away from me and hid twice, which isn’t bad. My neck prickles with self-consciousness as I scan the aisles calling for him; older people inevitably look down their noses and over the tops of their glasses at what looks like a naughty child and the terrible mother who clearly cannot control him. I’m used to it, but it still hurts. When I found him the second time, I shoved the food aside and put him in the cart, where he kicked and honked until we were through the check-out. I see a friend’s husband in the store with one of their kids, and I have a moment of envy at their ability to divide and conquer. It’s almost three o’clock and I am no further on my paper, the laundry hasn’t been started, the beds need changing. There is a single-adult dance tonight in our stake, and I had tossed around the notion of going, but honestly, I just don’t see it happening.

2:45 The groceries are all put away and the kids have taken their laundry to the wash room, so there’s that. On the couch, the boys snuggle in brief brotherly harmony as they peer intently at the screen of Jeffrey’s gameboy. I can hear Abby singing “Yo Gabba GABBA!” to herself as she spins in the computer chair in the basement. Whirrrrrr…. whirrrrrr…. And I have to go coax her to move so I can actually get started on some homework now.

5:02 Got a solid hour and a half of studying in while Abby spun herself on the desk chair next to me and occasionally asked to loosen a Lego for some big, delicate thing she was intently building. Bean hung out in his hammock, swinging contentedly and playing Harry Potter on Wii with Jeffrey. I was able to log into my University website and watch a lecture I missed earlier this week (loooove professors who record their lectures!), and then scored 96% on the 50 question quiz that followed. My tea is tepid on the desk here next to me, but that’s okay- it’s time to go cook dinner. I have no idea what I’m making, and the laundry is still forlorn and undone.

5:35 Dinner is served. All comply. At this point, there is no way anyone is reading this insane document, so I’ll just say we had frog eyes and Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans- in the flavors of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. And an English muffin with pb for Bean, of course.

6:15 Kitchen is cleaned, dishes are going and the kids are getting their jammies on. I have bribed them and promised TWO chapters from Harry Potter and Sorcerers Stone if they are compliant and obedient children. Reading to them every night is one part crazy-making stuff, and two parts sweet, sweet goodness.

7:24 Abby is in bed, because she couldn’t keep her feet off her brothers, and she is happily singing primary songs to herself. The boys are in their beds with flashlights reading Calvin & Hobbes. Yes, it’s early, but with 9 a.m. church, they’ve got to be in bed by 8, otherwise morning is horrible. Also, my sanity is at stake. By this hour, I’m done. Maybe now I can get some laundry started… I still have three essays to write before tomorrow night on post-colonial Africa. What I really want to is to curl up with a book I want to read and escape for a while. So much for the stake dance.

8:16 The doorbell rings, and it’s Jeffrey’s Sunday School teacher, who also happens to be the nicest man on earth. He’s brought us a pizza, as he does almost every weekend, from his pizza restaurant. The kids will be bummed they missed him- he’s always a popular sight on our doorstep. All three kids are asleep already. Hallelujah.

8:32 Pizza is cooling on the counter. Time for some real homework. Forget social life, forget dating. Where on earth would I fit anything else in? Looking back over this day, most of what I do many other mothers do as well. Maybe not the full-time school, but the other stuff. The part that sticks out and makes my heart throb is not having anyone to share the joys and triumphs with- I am alone with all three of my children almost all the time. And while I love and adore them, they are arrows that I am prepping to shoot into the skies of their own lives. Here, where I am, I stand alone. Having someone to bounce ideas off, to help when I am tired, to pass a kid to when I’m at my wits end- these are the hardest moments.

14 thoughts on “Single Mother

  1. All that before noon? You really don’t know how strong you are until you have to be, do you.

    I’m off to the grocery store, too. My youngest needs some food in him. He’s already tanked. But he’s 15 and his version of honking is slamming doors and yelling at his older brother.

  2. I hope you made it to that singles dance. It would be good to get out.

    I am feeling a litte bit of kinship here. I finished a so-called ‘mini’ project (mini, my foot!) on aural rehab and aging, baking a batch of snickerdoodle cupcakes for ym/yw choir practice tomorrow which filled my kitchen with the smells of cinnamon sugar, looking at the kitchen and floor that are supposed to be clean, and thinking about my trip to Home Depot/grocery/library today. My daughter who cann0t keep her hands off anything, kept my carts full of unwanted items and the library unfortunately will have to reshelve a myriad of books. At least I got dinner on the table at a decent hour. It didn’t stop the bickering of the boys or the bossiness of The Love Magnet.

    I think I’ll join you in a cup of tea – rooibois for me.

  3. You go. I can’t do ANY of that, except maybe the school part and the grocery part. I can’t install stuff in ceilings, fix plumbing, or whip up cinnamon crumble muffins.

  4. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans in the flavors of soup and grilled cheese, huh? (Just so you know that some of us hang on your every word.) I’m sorry there’s not someone right there to share the heartaches and the triumphs with, but I’m glad you’re willing to share them with all of us.

  5. You are a strong and incredible person. You also win a mom award for making the coolest dinner ever! Although, I’m thinking… when I have kids, I think we might try “Bertie Bott’s every flavor bean soup” as a substitute for split pea soup… I have a strong suspicion that one will be more popular :-)

  6. You are amazing, and even though it doesn’t seem like it now, you will make it through, and so will your kids. Sometimes it feels like not only is there not a light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel is blocked, and no light is likely to come any time soon, but it will come my friend, it will come. (And I’m one of those who reads
    everything you write to the very end. Hang in there).

  7. yes, you really are amazing! Parenting is full time and hard enough on its own, plus you have school, plus being a solo-parent – yup, totally amazing!!!

  8. That last part is what my recently divorced sister says too. The being alone and having no one to bounce things off of. it’s lonely. You are moving mountians. Wish I could help you more.

  9. So that’s how it’s done! When you hit the mental brick wall you just screw up your resolve and tell yourself “I can do this.” I’m gonna have to try that.

    I still can’t get over how fast you get things done. I have this mental image of myself swimming through wet concrete, or at least jello pudding or something.

    It’s a poor substitute, but I hope you get some relief from bouncing ideas here.

  10. I really want to be some of the people in your ward when I grow up! How awesome is it that your child’s Sunday School teacher randomly brings you pizza? I need to start doing stuff like that instead of waiting for the RS to assign me to do it.

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