Today he apologized for being sick and causing me to miss work. I had to think about that for a minute. What message am I conveying about my priorities? I won’t lie and say that I haven’t encouraged him to tough it out before because 4 sick days + 2 kids + 1 parent -12 months doesn’t always add up. I would be lying if I said I don’t feel pressure to never miss work, to outperform, because well, I’m the provider. This is the fine line we walk.
This is the heaviness of going it alone, never knowing if you’re doing everything right, and only being sure of one thing: you cannot, under any circumstance, let him down. As a single mom, I probably question myself a million times a day. Although I’m quite certain that mom doubt is not limited to single moms. I’m always asking myself, am I too lenient, too strict. Am I too laid back? Maybe I’m too uptight? Am I too emotional? Not emotional enough. Am I giving too much screen time? Not enough extracurricular activities? The list goes on and on.
The irony of all of this is, when I brought my little 9 pounds 3 oz bundle of joy home, I never thought, years later, I would walk this parenting path alone. I never imagined I would be responsible for all of the things. No one could have convinced me that the already difficult, never-ending balancing act of parenting, would soon feel like walking a tight rope with both hands full. I became a single parent when he was 6 years old. Truth is, it felt like earlier than that. My marriage always felt unbalanced, leaving me with the lion’s share of responsibilities. This was one of many reasons that my marriage ended, and while I was fully ready to accept the responsibility of single parenting, there was no way I could understand the depth and breadth of it all. It’s amazing how strong you have to be when that is your only option. It’s extraordinary what you can accomplish when you have no choice.
Most days, I can shake the mom doubt. There are those days, like today, when it stops me dead in my tracks. Some days my kids become my mirror, and on those days, I have no alternative. I must stare into my own face and reflect. On days like today, when the meetings abound, and the to-do list is a mile long, but you get that call from the school nurse, you realize there are days when you can’t do it all. And you breathe because you realize, that’s ok. The mirrored faces of your children cause you to reflect on how many days like this you’ve already made it through with your little ones. Then, you feel stronger because you draw strength from knowing that just like you’ve made it through before, you’ll make it through again.
So maybe we don’t have the picture-perfect family. Maybe I juggle more things than most moms, and perhaps sometimes I’ll be the only face they see in the crowds. But one thing is sure, I’ll get him what he needs today and the day after that.