I started reading a new book because that’s just what I do. I like to read- and I like to read books that really make you think deeply and if the author can tie their thoughts to scientific facts, even better! I’m so there for it. “Introspection” was always a popular word in my psych courses through the years and I definitely appreciate these fab authors encouraging their readers to do some deep examination of one’s own mental and emotional processes. Meditation is a big thing and if you’re like me, it’s almost impossible to shut my brain down completely. Truth is, there’s just always so much happening in my life that I don’t have time to NOT think. I know, what a bad excuse, right? But, my brain doesn’t get a break. I haven’t had a partner’s support through these strange times and you definitely feel the brunt of it, especially when you could use some more expertise or even just someone to take over for an hour so you can make a game plan, rather than just make one up on the spot. But this one book I’m reading said to take a minute to just ‘be still.’ So, I tried…
Okay, Alanna. Be Still. Just jump in that shower and let all the thoughts drain from your head and be still. 1-2-3…
And then whoosh. My brain goes into overdrive.
I really need to clean the kitchen floor, it’s gotten so sticky and the kids just don’t know how to keep juice in their cup. And did they all brush their teeth? I think they did, but maybe I’m wrong.
And that e-learning? I know they’re playing math games and not getting their assignments in and it’s 100% because I’m not sitting beside them to help and I’m selfishly taking this shower because I just need a minute to NOT think. And here I am…. Thinking.
Alanna, it’s almost noon which means you need to get lunch started. Get out of the shower, NOW. And why is there soap in your mouth and why is it so salty? Wait, that’s not soap. Here come the tears. Tears of feeling like you can’t do enough and everyone is looking at you. Great. Wipe them away and get moving, girl. You have a full day. There’s laundry in the washing machine and honestly, when was the last time you washed the kids bedding? You better do that today. What time do the online dance classes start again…? Ok, good. That gives you about 4 hours to get everyone moving.
Outdoor time? Well, maybe not. Papa is building a deck out back and the kids shouldn’t be near the power tools. Maybe a walk? Even though your allergies are brutal today, you need to do it because that’s what good Mom’s do- they take their kids for walks and don’t let them waste away in front of their devices all day. You know their Father isn’t doing it for them.
Frig. You still need to finish painting the boys room. They totally deserve a nice bedroom and the only reason it’s not getting done is because YOU haven’t made the time to paint one measly wall. Come on, Alanna. Do better. You need to do better. You are the only one here.
And make sure you stay on top of your email today. You had that questionnaire that was due a few days ago and you need to get it in stat. Watch it like a hawk so you can finish it immediately. Prioritize that. Also, you need to talk to them MORE about white privilege and inequality. You haven’t done enough.
Forget your online real estate course today. You don’t have time to do that. You need to focus on these kids all day. The boys are in their weird moods because of all the Father’s Day commercials and you need to do a better job navigating their emotions. And you also need to do a better job at taking them to protests and show them to take a stand for injustice. And really, do you even have a right to feel frustrated right now? Absolutely not. Put on your big girl panties and smile all day. And don’t forget their vitamins- Covid isn’t gone. Damn.You need to get a new bottle of Vitamin C. I do wish I could get someone to run out and get them for me without feeling super guilty. This can wait.
Okay, get out of the shower. Wipe your tears away and go drink some water. But you need to make sure that Jaidyn gets her meditation in today and you better learn how to set the example for that. Be Still.
I think I hear tears? Is it? Yep. They’re fighting. Your time is so up in here. Get dressed quickly and go put things away in the kitchen that weren’t put away last night. Like honestly Alanna, how lazy can you be? You need to do more today. The kids need to make memories here and they need to complete their school work. You need to clean the house and you need to wash all their sheets. And why the hell are you so shaky? Why can you hear your heartbeat? Get. It. Together. Mind over matter. Inhale. Exhale. You know the drill.
And this is the point where I pull myself together and walk downstairs and decide it’s a good time for the kids to get some outdoor time, as they’re totally glued to the television screen and hosting their very own wrestling match on top of the couch… yes, on top of the couch. We’ve got Rice Krispies all over the floor and spilled orange juice but I have to ignore it for the time being because they’re running off in 5 different directions and I need order to hit some deadlines. In all fairness, one is usually crying because there ARE 5 of them and age span is a thing. Literally, as I type this, I’ve got one kid crying because one sibling doesn’t want her to play and the other does. And there’s another kid crying in another room because of some clearly awful memory of them not having dessert the night before and choosing now as the time to speak their mind about it. Totally logical, kiddo. I’d be pissed, too. If you know, you know.
Low and behold, the second you mention it’s time for a bike ride or a swim in the pool, they’re beelining it for the door and somehow knock over 600 cups of water that have magically appeared all over the floor. And two minutes into being outdoors, someone NEEDS a cup of water (yes, the one they just knocked over that I’m blatantly ignoring because they need to be supervised in the pool) and another one has a ‘hungry spot.’ There are usually one or two kids who sneak inside the second I sit down to hammer out some work (because believe it or not, I have things to complete) and it’s a constant game of cat-and-mouse to wrangle them all back outside. Again? If you know, you know. We do live with my parents, but they’re still working and these kids are MY responsibility.
E-learning has been thrown out the window at this point because it’s hard. It’s hard to sit beside 5 kids simultaneously and meet their every need and figure out all their different platforms. My brain physically can’t process being pulled in that many directions, while I have my own online courses to do. I have to start being selective with what I bring into this so-called malleable brain because it’s turning into mush from overstimulation. Grade 5 math? No thank you. And housework? I try. I really do.
Okay, so this sounds pretty average during The Times of Covid and a massive Human Rights Movement, right? Totally. I feel silly even writing about it but that’s the problem. The pressure is on all of us to do better and when we’re doing this parenting gig by yourself? It’s tricky. I’m tired of being told that this is all on me and that I need to just buckle up and face it. Every parent needs a minute in order to be a better parent in a normal world, and even more so in this time.
The afternoons are your typical shitshow and bedtime is hard on us all and by the time everyone’s asleep, I’m sure it’s close to midnight. If they’re in their real awesome mood, they defy me and test their boundaries and after a long ass day- it’s really exhausting to be screamed at by your 4-year old in the front yard because they don’t want to go to bed. And believe me, the entire neighbourhood can hear. Straight up- I don’t blame them for their moods the majority of the time because life is tough on everyone and I know to acknowledge their craptacular behaviour as pure frustration. And this is where I need to be mindful. Their less than ideal behaviour comes from SOMEWHERE and sometimes they need a massive hug and chat and sometimes they just need to be sent to bed early. The hard part is figuring out which one they need and it’s even tougher without another parent because it’s on you… and I’m only human and make mistakes all.the.time.
You see, my divorce left me feeling like I wasn’t enough. It’s a tricky situation when you’re left for a substance as it makes you really wonder what it is about you that just isn’t enough for someone. I now know I was enough and I know the depth and realm of addiction and know better than to blame myself… but the thoughts do surface and it takes resilience and strength to remind yourself that you ARE enough. It’s just one of those hard truths to see and accept. And I have that added stress of navigating the feelings my kids will have as they grow up and wonder why their father chose his path. I KNOW I’ll say the wrong things from time to time because I have struggled with the same thoughts. It’s just one more thing that’s on my plate and a grim reality that I need to be prepared for.
My 8-year old son has become pretty keen and intuitive. With Father’s Day approaching, the commercials are on more often and after a morning cartoon there was one specific commercial that came on and he looked at me after it was done and said, “I wish my Dad was like that one on TV.” I sat there and froze because how do you respond to that? The kid just wants his father to play with him and be there. The only thing I could do was hug him and remind him how loved he is. But, they still crave that male connection. He asks me almost every night who I’m going to marry because he wants someone to play catch with. And the thought of it has him smiling from ear to ear. The thought of it hurts me because I know I can’t be enough for them in that regard. I know the responsibility of raising them is solely mine and it can get to me in big ways but it’s also my job to keep pushing forward. It can be a daily battle with the thoughts and words from us all but at the end of the day, these kids do have a mother who will persevere and do her absolute best to ensure they feel loved and safe every day… and will do her best to play catch with them. Hell, I co-coached his t-ball team last year to make up for that lack of a male figure… and honestly speaking? It made him upset. He used to give me the silent treatment after hockey, football and ball games because the majority of the kids on the team were brought by- you guessed it- their father. It’s something we’re working through and it’s something that has needed a child psychologist’s guidance but we’re facing it together and learning.
Parenting is a series of peaks and valleys in general. I can acknowledge that we are currently in a bit of a valley with not only the state of the world but with Father’s Day on the horizon. I also know that better days are ahead and my job is to keep bettering myself so that I can handle all the crooked paths and wrong turns. I am trying to ‘be still’ daily and connect with my most inner thoughts and ideas. I’m imagining what our best life would look like and I’m refusing to accept anything other than what supports my values. My children are surrounded by love, a wonderful extended family and opportunities that I am so beyond thankful for. But the truth is that parenting without a partner has proven to be lonely, sad, yet thought-provoking. It has made me step up as a parent but has also made me doubt everything I do. The physical and mental load proves to be almost too much at times BUT it’s also a constant reminder to keep doing better. The world is under huge pressure to change for the better and a lot of that responsibility lays on the parents to make sure our kids KNOW better, DO better and are led by our example. And it’s okay to struggle right now because life is hard. It’s so hard. The tears are okay because these are extraordinary times. And an extra hug to all my fellow single Mama’s who are dealing with the pain of Father’s Day when there is no Father around. Love your babies harder and create that safe haven. And Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful Dad’s, Papa’s, step-fathers and men who have generously stepped up in the absence of another man. You are all so loved and appreciated. Keep playing catch with them and being there- make the memories last.