There are these moments, like this one, where I wish I could melt away, cease to exist or just disappear. And for years I have refused to say that I am done, I need a break; afraid of the consequences of stating the obvious that being a single working mom is plain exhausting.
It’s been a long week. And my son’s been pushing all the wrong buttons, trying my patience, and testing my limits like any regular kid would. He wants to attend the party he has not been invited to, get that chotta bheem tattoo painted on his arm, watch TV as he eats dinner and finally not want the dinner that’s been served to him. And most often, in situations like this I want to pretend that I’m alright and my kid is being a kid. Most often though, I don’t. I will instead research every website possible trying to find a connect between his behaviour and my incompetence. I will blame my inability to get a grip of my life and balance the weights without tipping myself over.
As a single parent, you really can’t let go! You especially excel at multi-tasking, planning ahead, making lists and pretending that you have it all sorted. And your ego refuses to reach out and stitch yourself a safety web that you could throw your kid into when you wanna stop. That you see would mean you are not in control. You refuse to allow yourself, for one tiny little moment, to say ‘Everything can go to hell right about now.’ You will cry in between chores simply because tears wont stop streaming but there’s no time to stop and you seem to be hitting deadlines every minute of your life. In your fight to prove to yourself and the world that you have got everything under control, you have become a one-wo/man army.
And when I see friends on holidays without kids in tow, I am plain envious. I have never allowed my son a night away from me, except those when he went to his father’s house when he was two; watched a movie which wasn’t something that he couldn’t accompany me to. The guilt of another alone hour for him without me, while I enjoyed myself would kill me for days to come. Would I not be questioned and told I was irresponsible to want a day off. Would I not be pounced upon and torn apart? Would I not be risking my child’s future if I just for a moment failed to keep it together? Would I not lose his custody? One weak moment and I could be risking my son’s life forever.
I often heard at court that I was compensating for a father’s absence with shoes. My son has 25 pairs or so and even though I agree with the over compensation bit, really, with shoes?! No, I compensate with time, energy, provisions, and every bit of me. Shoes, they are just something I love having in every colour and type. But the rest I really put an effort at; giving up on a helluva lot of things. And that’s perfectly alright most times. Except when I simply want to give up. There I said the words, I am not allowed to say. That I wish to melt away, cease to exist or just disappear without worrying that my kid would sleep well in my absence.
As a single parent you are the challenger and you have only you to beat. And you are no easy task master. You see, you want to believe you are doing great. You want your child to believe that you have it perfect. That they have it no less than their friends who come from normal homes and larger families. You want to tell yourself that you are fixing your life, building it together block by block. Getting it right at work, remembering every payment deadline, and contributing to the lives of your friends and family. You want to pretend that you are better than the best; Couldn’t have been better. Till these moments come your way and you realise it’s a farce. You are not the all in all.
At times, you nudge yourself, just when you are about to fall, look yourself in the eye and say, really, you didn’t come this far to let go now.
And then there are moments like these, when your son holds you close and says to you, “Mama, I know you are crying. Tell me your problem. I am good at solving problems” before calmly walking away to quickly finish his meal and get to bed.
And in these moments you know nothing else really matters and you’ll be alright.