I’ve been really struggling to get a grip on certain things that used to come easy for me. I’ve been through a lot and my friends have often said to me how much they admire my strength, my organization skills, my sunny outlook in life.
They commented many times how I seem to do all of this juggling so well, so efficiently. That I look polished and composed. That my kid always looks polished. (They haven’t seen her covered with chocolate!) They say they don’t know how I do it. I always responded that I do what has to get done, and if they were in my shoes, they would have no choice but do the same.
But for whatever reason, it has finally taken its toll on me. I can’t keep my calendar straight, I’m forgetting to do things that I’ve never forgotten to do, my emotions are all over the place. So, I had to reflect a bit.
Last year certainly had moments that I very much enjoyed. But, I believe it was an exceptionally difficult year. It started out ordinary, except that I was now a single-parent.
I turned 40
My friends made me feel special for my big 4-0. I got my groove on and started to explore my individuality, especially on my off weekends.
I would go out with friends, go to cooking meetups, experiment with recipes, ride my bike, swim. Wow, do I love to swim. I hadn’t done it since HS. I’m pretty good at it too. I was having a great time!
But the lows were significant. My ex-husband was very bitter about the divorce, mostly because he loves me very much and didn’t want to let go. It was something I had been thinking about for years and it had to be done. He made my life hell! That is, until he got gravely ill. He was so ill, I worried that he might not make it at all. And when push came to shove, I did the right thing, I helped him when he needed help, visited him in the hospital, did favors for him etc. It took him a very long time to recover. He wasn’t working and he couldn’t give me child support.
Things were rough financially since tuition for my daughter’s daycare was almost as much as my rent. What kept me going is I had a small nest egg. My help didn’t go without notice and these acts of kindness helped changed his attitude a lot. I’m so glad and that transformation helped us throw a wonderful birthday party for her at his house. She was such a happy little girl.
Working too much
I was working on a major project at work and that was ramping up so much that I found myself in more meetings than I was working. I would spend countless hours reading proposals for various components at home, on the train, at all sorts of hours. And until very recently, I hadn’t figured out how to STOP waking up at 4am (from the days of nursing baby), so I was often reading my work email, working at crazy hours.
Something I vowed to do this past Sept was to stop reading my work email on off-hours. I’ve curbed that habit to some extent, but not entirely. There were a lot of politics related to that project, some of which effected me personally. That was very stressful, and made me even more dedicated to the success of it. The project ramped up even more and I found myself working on weekends, on my summer Friday’s. The pace was insane.
In the middle of all that chaos, I lost my best friend in the whole world. We shared everything with each other; thoughts, hopes, dreams, day-to-day little things. We could talk about anything and never seemed to get bored. We liked and disliked the same foods and just about everything else too. There was very few things we didn’t share. We even gave blood together! Well I gave blood, he, nearly fainted. We were like twins and we began to joke about how scary similar we were. I can’t tell you how many times we were wearing matching clothes…. and it isn’t as if we had planned it. We were just that in tune with each other. Too often we were finishing each other’s sentences. I used to wonder if he was pretending to be similar to me, and he wondered the same about me. Because of that we rarely had conflict, and the relationship was just very easy. We had eaten and shopped our way across all of New York City, there are so many triggers in my daily life and so just living life is a constantly reminder of his loss. He is missed greatly. I never took time to mourn that loss because I was so consumed with work.
No free time to breath
September came with new promises. My daughter started Kindergarten and very different routines. It took quite a bit to get new routines down. At the same time, my ex-husband was in limbo about his housing. He had stopped taking my daughter every other weekend, since about August. So this mommy had her daughter on her watch 24/7 without a break for many, many months. It wasn’t that he didn’t spend time with her, it is that he spent time with her at MY house. It’s not the same time as having “me” time where I can come and go anytime I pleased. Every time I wanted to do ANYTHING I had to ask my ex-husband first because there was no one to watch my kid. I felt like I was still married!
Things didn’t improve after he moved. He had always had some really legitimate excuse why he couldn’t take her for the weekend. It wasn’t long after he moved that he discovered his new place was infested with bed-bugs! Ugh. So just when I was hoping for a little relief from a child who has been reported by other mommies as being far more demanding than her peers, I get informed of this news, that I’m on indefinite mommy patrol.
As I said, it isn’t as if he didn’t spend time with her. He spent lots of it. But it isn’t the same. As a single mom, I wake when she wakes. I have to manage getting her to school, and the whole routine before school. The chaos of breakfast, dressing, snack. I have to then race home to pick her up from the after-school program, cook dinner, bath her when I can, check her homework and try to do all of it in two hours before bedtime.
Doing this for a week is easy. Doing it for months on end is an entirely different thing. While he would come over and cook dinner, it certainly isn’t the same as being on the hook all of the time. Even coming over on Saturday’s…. well…. he isn’t up with her when she wakes up at 6:30am, I am. And when she’s sick it is even worse. I had to arrange a play-date/slumber party with a friend just so I had a few hours to go to a Toy Store to go Christmas shopping for her.
That’s how little “alone” time I had. I’ve finally put my foot down and said that we need to go back to the old schedule, starting this Jan, every other weekend, plus one night a week. That really helps me recharge my batteries and give her the attention she needs, and give myself the attention that has been sorely neglected. From October on, it’s been particularly difficult.
Lots of health issues
First, I was very sick. I don’t really ever get really sick and so it always scares the hell out of me. While I only took a few days off of work, it took me over a month to recover.
It’s very difficult being very sick when you are a single parent. You feel like death yet you still have to get up, get your kid to school, make them dinner when all you want to do is lay down and be left alone, or better yet, have someone take care of you.
I didn’t grow up like that. I grew up in a very “your on your own” atmosphere so I was missing something I never really had. It makes you feel very vulnerable. I had a cough for a very long time. It took me 6 weeks to get my voice back into shape. I had laryngitis for the longest which is something that always disturbs a former singer. It wasn’t long after that, that my daughter got very sick and had fevers. I took her to the Pediatrician and it was her usual ear infection. I stayed home another few days with her while she recovered.
Shortly after that, my mother had major surgery, a type of surgery in which I have emotional baggage. It’s the same surgery that resulted in my grandfather’s death. Do I need to say more? I took time off of work to care for her needs.
Now we are in the whirlwind of the holiday season and all of its insanity. Even though it is good, it is stressful. My daughter got sick again. And to be honest, she had been touch-and-go the whole time. She seemed ok but she had a lingering cough. This time she has fevers on and off above 103. When it became clear to me that maybe it wasn’t the flu, I took her to the Pediatrician. She has walking pneumonia and this strange wart thing called Molluscum Contagiosum. I have no idea where she contracted it, but given how common it is with children and how touchy-feely little ones are, especially my child in particular, it is not at all surprising. Treatment for that is barbaric involving putting blistering agents on them to kill the virus.
The night she got treated for them she woke up screaming in pain. They had blistered, some which were blood blisters. When I saw them, my heart sank. I wanted to throw-up. She’s had three treatments so far and she’s not out of the woods. I just keep them covered so she doesn’t spread them to another child.
I took all of these things in, some of which occurred back to back and I’m just exhausted. I don’t think I ever completely got over the Flu I had back in October. I had lingering issues with my sinuses. My eyes are red, my eyelids are often swollen. My eyes are dry. My nose is constantly stuffy and I haven’t been sleeping well. So here I am trying to reflect on my feelings. Be in the moment.
Not the old me at all
It is no wonder I’m so tired and out of sorts! I’ve been through a lot. On the day of a horrific snow storm, I went out in it, completely oblivious to how much snow fall we had, trudging through waist high snow, trying to get to work. It never even occurred to me to check the news. For my friends who know me, this is totally not the Robin they know. That’s why I know I’m off.
Today is the seventh day of a new year. It’s my mom’s birthday in fact. I shall call her. That woman is already up for sure, but perhaps I should wait a little later, until my dad wakes up.
All I can do is do what it takes to make life less stressful. Add more structure to my life. Enforce more boundaries in my personal relationships. Enforce more boundaries with my daughter who loves to walk the line. (I think she was born that way. She was defiant in the damn hospital the day she was born!!!!!) I need to take time for myself. I have already formulated things I’m going to do to treat myself well. But this weekend, I have with my daughter…. so better step up and figure out what I’m gonna do, even if it means taking her to see the ballet. (I hate ballet, but she likes it. It’s not about what I like, it’s about exposing her to everything simply because she is a child, a sponge who deserves the opportunity to experience it all and make her preferences about things later.)
It’s snowing today which means my daughter will want to go out and play in the snow tomorrow. I’ll take her. I hate the snow. It’s cold and wet. But it’s not about me, it’s about her. So I will take her.
Anyway, good morning new day.