Handle with Care. Please.

I’ll be cruising along, thinking I’m doing fine, and them BLAM! right into the brick wall of what being a single mama means. Tonight, while trying to handle a boy with the stomach flu who barfed all over my bed, I hit that wall. Stripping a king comforter, 6 pillows, sheets and blankets, for some reason was the trip-wire today.

I am fighting back tears, but they are winning. I have a sick child, and he needs me. I have two other kids who also need me. There is no “divide and conquer” anymore. It’s me. All me, all the time. Lugging the dripping laundry downstairs, my child starts to barf again, and I have to leave the laundry to attend him, wipe his brow, and give him comfort. And clean up Barf Part II.

I got the first batch of laundry going when I realized I have no bleach.When stomach flu hits, I don’t mess around; bleach is my friend. I am out. I cannot send someone to the store. I cannot run to the store. For some reason, the lack of bleach seems cataclysmic to me, and standing amid the pile of towels and pillow cases, I burst into tears.

They are hot tears of frustration, fear, anger, and aching sadness churned together with a fair dose rage and a dash of self-pity. Cursing my soon-to-be ex under my breath, I climb the stairs and begin putting my room back together. I had to dig to the back of the linen closet to find a king sheet, and then wrestled the thing on my bed. Crying the whole time.

Then I get to explain to my children why mama is crying. This is just so damn much fun. This is not what I signed up for. This is not what was supposed to happen. And yet, here I stand. Now what am I going to do with it? I suppose that’s the true test. Life sucks sometimes. It’s hard, and it’s not fair. At all. But… What am I going to do with it? What are you going to do with it?

And so I pick myself up again, wipe my tears, kiss my kids, say a prayer and carry on…

12 thoughts on “Handle with Care. Please.

  1. This sucks. I mean really sucks. But what can you do? The same thing women have done for ages…you just have to keep going and trust that the strength is going to come from somewhere. Thank you for sharing your struggles and frustrations with us. You are a trooper, a champion. It may not feel like it now, but someday you’ll look back on this and realize how strong you were. You’ll get through this. You’ll be in my prayers tonight, Tracy.

  2. Well, this is the hard part where you are becoming what you are going to be, and you slowly learn to weed out the anger, bitterness, and other parts that you really don’t want to keep as part of your future personae.

    You also need someone you can call when it gets that bad. I’m sure there are neighbors and friends who are willing to jump in and help (or at least run over a bottle of bleach). Please call them, even if it’s late at night. You can call me! I’m not close enough to run over though…… But if you just need to call someone, call me!

  3. They say that “necessity is the mother of invention”. I say that single mothers invent necessary things.

    When I was the single mom of 4 and the flu hit, I invented the “towel and bucket” method to save our bedding and my sanity. No matter where each sick child is located, there is a LARGE towel on top of the blankets (think huge napkin tucked up under their chins) and a bucket or large bowl etc. If they can’t make it to the bathroom, I only have to pull up the towel and replace it or empty the bucket. I also took a trick off of a forensics show on TV and I put “Vick’s Vapor Rub” under my nostrils to block out the smell…I’m no longer a single mother, but we ALL (even my grown kids) still do this during illnesses.

    Something else I learned over time was that I often stressed/worried/obsessed/anguished over what I THOUGHT my children were feeling/going through/suffering when in fact they weren’t experiencing what I THOUGHT they were. For example-I found that they didn’t experience any more trauma over Dad canceling time with them after he moved out than they did when he lived at home. I was the one feeling the “trauma” in their behalf. Little ones don’t view things the way adults do, and they don’t experience complicated feelings like regret mixed with shame-on-you mixed with injustice. More often than not, my children were more disappointed about not getting to leave the house for the supposed activity or adventure that Dad might have been planning (which in reality he wasn’t-usually they just went to his place and watched TV or did similar things that they would have done at home) than they were about not getting to “see Dad”.

    You view your ex canceling on the kids through the eyes of a loving mother who knows that they aren’t little for long and wants to fill their childhoods with positive, loving validation. Your ex, no matter how sensitive and loving he may have seemed during your marriage is STILL a man, and “guys” often act more out of duty or sense of responsibility than actual altruistic desires to “make others happy”. You view each event through at least two lenses-what it is-and what it COULD have been. A lot of your pain will ease and heal when you are able to put down the second one and let things just be what they are. Your children ONLY see things as they are. They do not now comprehend, nor do they need to comprehend, that Daddy’s love should/could be more demonstrative or consistent. They just need to know that Dad loves them-in his own way-no matter how inept or selfish or stupid that way might truly be.

    I agree with em and Jessie-you ARE going to make it. You ARE tough.
    AND-you NEED to extend yourself to those around you who can serve you and help during these times. Visiting teachers, home teachers, neighbors, the closest friend you have living near you. They are just WAITING for you to call for help-trust me, they are. Heavenly Father put them in place for just these purposes. If you need bleach at midnight-so be it. I wouldn’t be a bit put out if someone I knew called in such circumstances. I can testify to you today that back then I was only “totally alone” when I chose to be.


  4. Amen to LeaAnn’s layered towel tricks…bowls and towels…fabulous. She had a lot of good sense elsewhere in her comment. And wahoo for your RS Pres.

    You are frustrated at not having the help he used to provide, and now you feel like you have to be both mom and dad. The idea of being both mom and dad is ridiculous; you weren’t designed to do that. Clean up what you can and save the rest for the morning, call a friend or the RS Pres and ask for some help. (They live for that kind of stuff.) You can tackle the money, take over the lawn, teach your sons how to tie a Windsor knot, and your daughter how to parallel park. What you cannot do is his job at being a dad. That’s his job alone… and if he blows it that’s his guilt not yours.

    Be the mom. Be the warrior mom who has to go on despite the lack of a companion. My brother died at age 32, his oldest child was 7 and he died right alone with him, leaving my s-i-l alone, 29 yrs. old with 4 children under the age of 6. She lost her first born and her husband. She was sad, mad, and made huge mistakes along the way…but she made it. And so did the kids. They managed without a dad, and with a mom who had to work out of the home every day their entire life. They all managed to grow up to be decent kids, marry in the temple and give her a slew of grand kids that look just like my brother.

    She didn’t have a choice, and frankly you don’t either. Your biggest problem is that your ex will still be around. (In a way, so was my brother… and that was hard too.) But you can do this just like my sis did. Be frustrated. Be mad. Fight back. But for heaven’s sake don’t do his job. Pack it up and leave it for him, you have enough dirty laundry to wash and lug around! (and frankly, laundry CAN wait.)

    You’ll find the tricks with help from others along the way and in a few years, you’ll look back with wonder at how you did it all! Have a good cry, then get back to being *you*.

  5. I am so sorry. It’s always the little things that seem to become the big things. During a marriage, it’s the little annoyances that grow and in your new situation, those same darn little things that cloud the big picture.

    It sounds like you are doing the best you can in trying circumstances. It’s okay to grieve for what was supposed to have been. The key is to get the emotions out but not continuously wallow. It sounds like that is exactly what you are doing.

  6. Thank God for your Relief Society President. Sometimes a gallon of bleach is worth a year of therapy!

    Hope the pukes have gone away by now.

  7. Tracy, you have amazing in-person and online friends! What a blessing to have their help, love, and advice.

    You are a strong woman and you are going to make it through this maze of emotional upheaval.

    I hope your son is feeling better, and that nobody else catches the barf bug!

    (( Hugs ))

  8. Smee-thanks for your kind words.

    Something you said to Tracy reminded me of something that a very wise Priesthood leader said to me after my ex left. He said something along these lines:

    “Divorce can be worse than losing your spouse to death. In death there is mourning but eventually you come to some sense of closure. In a divorce, you mourn but the “body” keeps showing up at the house”.

    Hilariously funny now, but powerfully true and profound THEN.

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