WTF WORLD? Letting Solo Parents get Sick?
Give me a BREAK! COME ONNNNNNN!
How cute, you thought this was a post about being a solo parent while your kid is sick? Because moms don’t get sick, right? *Rolls my eyes so much they almost roll into the next room* I’ll have you know that even my son told me “You’ve never sick, mom. You never get sick, why are you sick?” Yeah, right. More like it’s not very often I complain about being sick, nor do I let it hinder me.
My kid goes to pre-school. The germs that I come in to contact with, as well as from working in the public, means that I often catch a slight sniffle or a crackly cough. But nothing that really lays me out so bad, making it nearly impossible for me to think about anything other than laying in a bed until I manage… if I ever manage… to overcome this toxic invader that has come to destroy me seemingly overnight. Le Sigh.
But at the end of this last August (2018) it hit me. A cold that came on so quickly, so strongly, that I literally called up a friend and told them “While I’m not suicidal or want to actually be DEAD dead and end my life, I just want to not be alive until I’m all better. I can’t do it. I need it to be over. Make it stop.”
My muscles hurt all over, true exhaustion had hit me about 4.5 years before, the new school year was starting, I was a mucus faucet, I was being audited by the CRA, I was 2 weeks behind on studying, I work, volunteer, housework had been neglected, and rent was due.
Did I mention that I still had to be a parent?
OH the joys of being a solo parent, you don’t have any sick days. You don’t have another person to take over running the household. You don’t have another parent to pawn your child off to so you can hunker down and hibernate while you suffer the consequences of your body betraying you. If you’re lucky, you’ll have family, or perhaps daycare, school, or a friend you can swap in for the alternate parent.
If you’re really lucky, like me, you’ll get sick over the long weekend. The first weekend your one and only alternate has gotten off all summer long, who apparently is also the one who potentially had infected you and is no longer available as a back-up because they are also sick.
Also, being the long weekend, there is no school. There is no daycare. There is nothing because everyone is on holiday. Thank the friggin rainbows and butterflies of the world that I somehow managed to get the weekend off without requesting any time off from work. That was pure luck, and I am ever so grateful. #Blessed
When You Hit Rock Bottom
It was 5:30 pm, I walked into the kitchen, looked around, felt my knees become weak and I slid down to the ground. Sitting on my dirty kitchen sink rug that I should have vacuumed two days ago, I lean my head back onto the cupboard, close my eyes and let the tears fall. This was it. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was spent.
All I had to do was cook dinner. That’s all. Dinner, wash up, and a bedtime routine. That’s all that was left.
I had survived the whole of Day 1: The Sick Solo Parent Long Weekend, only to be defeated at dinner time. I couldn’t do it. There was nothing left in me but tears.
Every part of my body ached. My head throbbed. My nostril faucet still hadn’t been shut off, the pressure behind my eyes made it hard to keep them open, I was exhausted. Completely and utterly spent. I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t want to cook, I didn’t want to breathe, I didn’t want to do anything but crawl into bed until next week, month, heck, it felt like I needed a year to recover.
After a few minutes I stopped crying. The energy wasn’t there for it. Still leaning against my kitchen cupboards, sitting on the unswept floor, all I could hear was my breathing. The ringing in my ears was deafening. This was it. I would be like this, right here. Forever.
But then I heard something else. A sweet voice that was playing with toys, on the other side of my kitchen counter which was hiding me from his sight. Gregory. Sweet, happy, patient, hungry, also tired, Gregory. My trooper who has put up with my sick ass all day long. My little boy who relies on me, and only me, to survive. And it was dinner time.
Solo Parent Super Powers – PEW PEW
I’m pretty sure these super powers aren’t limited to solo parents. I’m sure all parents, at some point or another, are also capable of drawing upon them. They only seem to be accessible to me, though, when I’ve hit absolute rock bottom.
When I’ve fallen, and there is nothing in the entire world that could motivate me and energize me enough to get back up, some switch inside is suddenly activated. And my Solo Parent Super Powers kick in, giving me the ability to do things that were moments before, seemingly impossible.
These powers kicked in when I realized that if I didn’t get up, my son wouldn’t eat. I had to do this, that there was literally no one else who was going to do it. I had to be the hero, that is my job. I’m the mom.
Wearily, I stood up, walked to the front door, and pulled the 5 bags of groceries I carried up 3 flights of stairs in one trip moments before, towards the kitchen. Avoiding all the school uniforms pulled from storage earlier that day and the toys spread out across our bachelor suite floor. I start to unpack them. Cleaning the few dishes in the sink I need to make dinner, clearing art supplies from the kitchen counter, and start preparing food.
The solo parent carries on. Like a superhero who gets back up again and again after being hit by the bad guy. You watch and you know that it has got to hurt, yet they don’t seem to show much suffering from pain. They put on a tough face, grit their teeth, and run back towards the enemy, the danger, towards the purpose of their existence.
I made bean burritos and potato toddlers. They were delicious.
There is NO other Option, one MUST Endure.
The great thing about being a superhero is that there is no other option but to be the superhero. You’re locked in, can’t back down and bow out when it gets too tough to do the superhero things. You also realize that no regular person is going to be able to step up and do all these superhero things in place of you. You are the only one who can fill the shoes that you do.
No one else is going to be able to be Gregory’s mom.
We’ve survived worse than the start of a cold/flu season. We are warriors. Sure, often times when life hits me, I fall on my butt. I’m shocked that she did it again. I think “That Bitch!”, and I wonder why I let her keep doing this to me.
But she smiles at me. A little smile that I almost miss every time. But it’s so bright and contagious that it grabs my full attention at the last moment and gives me just enough.
Enough to remember that there is no other option, I must endure. Because I’m not being my own superhero. I’m Gregory’s. And I wouldn’t want my life to be any different. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else or do anything else… except perhaps relaxing on a beach, Bellini in my hand, with my son on one side of me and a hot caveman on the other side, somewhere in the tropics. What? a girl can dream, can’t she?
The Struggle is REAL
The struggle is definitely real. For everyone. I’m here to tell you that the Solo Parent Struggle is really real. I’m not sure how I get by sometimes. I’d like to thank good old Robitussin or some other cough and cold medication for helping me get by, but I like to be real with you, and I won’t stop now.
Solo Parent Struggle #3, Never Enough Money. As a sick parent, without a sick kid who did not infect you, 9 times out of 10 you will buy cough and cold medicine for the kid who isn’t sick yet. Because you don’t have money for medicine for the both of you and you’re more afraid of infecting your offspring and dealing with them without the aid of cough and cold syrup than suffering yourself without. Even if there was enough money, I’d probably splurge on those Halls Lollipops for him instead.
Every decision you make as a solo parent, you make with intention. There is no one moment where you can turn off and relax as a parent. Except perhaps at 2 am, which my doctor frowns upon as sleep torture is real and inflicting it upon yourself does not, in fact, give you more functional hours in your day. It will still drive you to insanity. Who knew?
Momma Bear and I have a joke… or shall I say, most women I know are aware of the “Pam, Call my Mom” joke. I wanted to ask Pam to call my mom too. I don’t actually know Pam’s phone number anymore, so I had to call my mom myself. I asked how parents do it, how do I make it easier to endure. Her reply: “It’s hard, huh? I totally understand.”
That was all. No words of wisdom. Because those were the wise words. All parents understand. All moms understand. And there is nothing that makes it easier. It’s hard. The struggle is real. And we still endure.
Sometimes we even have the urge to do it again from the start… me? Not so much. I’m pretty set with the one. I recognize my limits and do not wish for the number of my offspring to outnumber me.
Before You Go
Remember, you aren’t alone. Life is tough, but you’re tougher. You’re going to hit rock bottom. To be honest, I hit it almost daily. Those Solo Parent Super Powers always seem to kick in and I survive another day of the Solo Parenthood Apocalypse. I mean, if it weren’t for all that destruction and chaos, I would never have had the opportunity to gain these super powers. And I get to spend every day being the superhero to my most favourite person in the world.
I get to be the mom of my son. And even though I may complain, and cry, at the end of the day, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Because I get the privilege to do it again tomorrow.