It's hard to date as a single parent. Most nights I barely have the energy to drag myself to bed. I also find myself doing things on automatic and never think twice about them.
Just before the holidays, a friend wanted to introduce me to several of her male friends at a dinner party. Sure, why not.
My son and I enjoyed some great food and met some interesting people. One gentleman in particular sat across from me to continue our conversation. Luckily my son was hungry and focused on his food.
Mid-conversation, my son takes my hand and spits out a large ball of meat. Toddlers often over estimate the size of their mouths. The nice gentleman went from interest to horror seeing this chewed ball of meat in my hands.
It takes a strong stomach to date a single mom.
You may not agree with what I have say next, but that's OK. I don't believe it's a parent's responsibility to dictate what is in a child's heart. My son has the responsibility of choosing his faith, career, lover and how he purses his happiness. It's my responsibility to help him learn how to take care of himself, kindness and respect. I know those words are easier to type than put in motion, but I hope to do my best.
I mention this because I saw this light go off in my son this weekend. It was like he was visiting a place he knew already and it was of all places, soccer tots.
My son is an active kid. No matter how tired he is, he whines a bit when he has to go inside. He is fearless at every playground he encounters. I wanted to find him some kind of outlet that would allow him to be active and learn new skills.
At a music festival several weeks ago, my son saw a small family kicking a soccer ball and they let him kick a few times. He loved it and for someone who just learned how to kick, he was better than I expected. So when his godmother suggested soccer tots for him, I didn't think twice.
This Saturday was the first meeting of soccer tots. It was 20 toddlers in an indoor soccer field with small soccer balls and toys. Some kids stayed close to their parents. Once my son entered the room, he felt instantly in his element. I put our stuff down and he was off.
I don't know what career or hobby pursuits my son will follow, but I could tell from that experience that my son loves to MOVE and move fast. Running from one side of the field to the other side thrilled him with delight. He did not follow directions well, but hey, he's 20 months old and some of the words he heard he does not know. Yes, he tried to eat one of the cones on the field, but hey, he's 20 months old and his teeth always ache. Of course he held the ball in his hands a lot, but hey, he's 20 months old and he does not know the rules of the game.
As a parent, it's not my responsibility to pressure my son to become a soccer star. He dictates that. I am simply the driver.
I haven't posted in a while. That's because too much life is happening. I keep hoping to get to the other side of it to tell you about it but I don't think that is happening soon.
Everything that is happening and not happening for me now is quite survivable. Most Syrian refuges mothers would love to have my problems. Still, my perception of my problems at times tends to become the worst part of the experience.
It's nothing major. It's more like a thousand little bees stings happening over a short period of time. And don't take offense but some of my struggles are private saved only for close friends.
Bear in mind, I am stressed. Work typically eases up as we reach the fourth week of the semester but still am I still down staff members but the work has to continue. It has not stopped.
My son was good but he decided to cut two eye teeth during the first week of the fall semester. I was a zombie on good days waking every hour or so. He is great now eating and sleeping like the champ that he is.
Out of the blue came $900 in vet bills for my cats. Everyone is fine minus my bruised Visa card. My son had a meltdown when I took "his cat" to the vet. Once everyone came home and new carpets were purchased, the house returned to normal.
Then, I learned that my son's daycare is closing. Here is the place where my son feels most safe and happy outside of our home and we have to change. I cried liked baby the night I learned this news. Change my world, ok. Change my son's, no way.
See, all survivable. And yes there is more but I won't bore you. We are ok, just trying to find our way.
My 19-month old son loves to move, get into everything and explore. I love that about him except when we enter the grocery store. There are so many things that he can reach, touch and break that every visit requires strategies. Some times I carry him on my back, but he is getting so long that it takes a while to get him in the carrier. Since it's raining today, I had to take the chance and put him in the buggy.
First, I never enter the store with him without a list. Without a list, he distracts me and things are forgotten. I put him in the buggy, grabbed my list and hoped for the best suspecting that a meltdown was going to happen shortly after the produce section.
I am still in shock, but there were no meltdowns. Yes, he tried to get out of the buggy a few times to reach for something, but no crying happening. He never demanded for me to carry him. And get this - mid-way in the store, he asked for a tissue. I gave it to him and he blew his OWN nose. He did chew the upper left-hand corner of my list and I had to grab it out of his mouth, but overall this visit was a success.
Being a single parent means that I don't have someone else running interference while I get chores like grocery shopping done. I have to keep him safe, entertained and products have to be purchased. We did that! Even the checkout clerk commented on how well behaved he was. Who is this guy? I like this phase.
I consider myself a typical female. There will always be more shoes out there that I desire, a laugh with my girlfriends is better than any drug and my relationship with my body is always changing. For the most part, I feel good in my skin. This place feels like home, but some days, I feel at war with my body.
My son has a mean left hook.
He's not a boxer, just a toddler.
He is overtired from being sick
And from cutting canines.
There are bursts of joy now and then
He has a great giggle.
He talks to me all the way home from work. I understand very third word.
He sings silly, nonsense songs and quotes clips from Elmo.
But tonight I needed a break.
His mood swings were insane.
The highs seemed too high and the lows seemed lower than normal.
My beautiful son seems more like an alien and less like the affectionate little guy who loves all things chicken.
I scolded him for standing in a chair this evening because he might fall and then he did.
When he got up he looked at me like I pushed him down.
Seconds before bed, my son hit me with a left hook.
Maybe he is going to be a boxer one day.
A crazed, boxing toddler man with a chicken side kick who loves Elmo.
Yeah, I see it.
Single parenthood, there are no bells rung to give you a break. You demand your soft touches for you and the people he hurts.
I need to wrap myself in bubble wrap. STAT
I have no idea why I am awake at 3:45am.....well, maybe I do.
If you look at your work calendar and you notice that most major stuff is going to happen during one week, that is probably the week that your child is going to get sick. That is now happening for me. Our server is down for an upgrade, an important document is due by Thursday and training is not quite ready. Cue the fever.
It's OK. Things are going to get done, but that means that you work on things in the middle of the night in-between bouts of fever and crying. It means you write long, detailed emails to staff members with to-do lists of things that have to get done. You start projecting how you will get things done once you finally make it back to work.
That's why I am awake. I am home since I am the only person my child wants when he is sick, but work deadlines wait for no one.
I found myself this week reflecting on the words shared during the adoption panel last week. A man shared a story of putting his young daughter to bed. While he kissed her good-night she stated, "Daddy, I don't want to have brown skin anymore."
Every parent in a transracial family knows that one day the conversation is coming. Your child will notice that you two have different skin color and that you don't match like the other families around you. You worry that you will find the right words to say. Did you read the right books to prepare you? Will you say the right words in the right order that make my child both proud of their race and your family? Since this conversation comes without warning, will you been in the right frame of mind to handle this situation?
Most days, I will be honest, I don't worry. My son is going on 19 months old. He loves all things Elmo, chickens, water, graham crackers and sticks. Sometimes when he holds my arm while he is fading off to sleep, I stare at the combination of our skin tones. He has this lovely dark-honey brown complexion and I have white skin with dabbles of pink with assorted age spots and freckles. It's so lovely to see how our skin tones bring out the best in one another's complexions. People are the same way. Our personalities and likes are different, but together we can bring out the best in one another. I just hope when that conversation comes up with Jules that I can help him understand this.
Back to that father putting his daughter to bed.....Well, he thought, "Oh no, here it is. Here is that conversation." He replied, "Oh honey, what color do you want to be?" She replied, "Blue, I want to be a smurf."
Children will realize their race. They will rely on their parents, the world around them and in the end, themselves to sort through the issues and make their own choices about their race. As parents, all you can do is be honest with grace and let the child guide the conversation so that it meets his/her needs. Because sometimes, the child just wants to be a smurf.
I don't know what you did today, but I am pretty sure that you didn't think about your lateral incisors. Looking at your lower, middle teeth, the teeth on either side of them, those dang pointy ones escaped your thoughts today. Sure, you brushed them and used them to attack that lunchtime sandwich, but you didn't give them any real thought today and I am completely jealous.
I live with a 18-month old boy with 14 fully surfaced teeth and 2 more just dying to come out and enjoy some chicken. Their names are lateral incisors. These pointy demons can bring a toddler to his knees and a household to a grinding halt.
For the past three nights, my son has not slept through the night. He gets up one-to-three times a night screaming immediately. Yeah, I am a single mother who does all of the night-time shifts, but my boy had spoiled me rotten. He typically sleeps 10-12 hours a night, non-stop and is the champion napper of his daycare class. His height is close to the 90% compared to other kids his age so he needs all that sleep to sneak in his extra inches.
I miss sleep because I remember sleep. It's not a too distant memory, not like those pitiful newborn parenting folks. Just last Saturday, I enjoyed eight hours in a row like a queen. But now, we wait. We wait for the pain to arrive and for these teeth to make their big entrance.
Don't worry, I am happy, yet sometimes I forget in my sleepless haze. It's these moments, those times when it's only you in the house that can go to him in the middle of the night that you REALLY feel the crunch of the single parent-ness. There is no one here to take turns for the middle of the night cries. No one else to run out and buy more medicine. It's only me to handle all the sudden cries, battles with food and convince just to lie down and go to sleep.
Dang you, lateral incisors. Dang you.