Last weekend was very challenging but it was basically a single mom’s normal weekend. Shopping, washing, ironing, cooking. Carrying, pulling, dragging. Waking up at dawn because my daughter is already awake at 6.30 am, even on weekends. Tidying up. Catching up on chores. Picking my daughter up from her dad’s after spending Saturday afternoon with him. The ever stressful goodbyes. She wanted to stay a little longer, only a little bit longer. And then her tears, my trying to reason with her. “You live with your mom. Not with your dad. Dad loves you, but you live with your mom and visit your dad whenever you want to, but that has to be arranged in advance.” The latter, though, is a poorly disguised lie. Of course she doesn’t visit him whenever she wants. But it sounds good and he keeps telling her that. All I can do is play along. I have to share an extremely stressful moment with you, an outburst I couldn’t refrain from. A few days ago she started crying and said that she wanted to see her dad, so I offered her to move to his house and live with him from then on. An uncontrolled reaction I still regret. We finished the discussion in tears, holding each other on the stoop of a nearby building.
The other day, I dropped in at a friend’s house. She is much younger than me, a mother of two. She complained that she couldn’t manage, that she was too busy to breathe. And she has a husband who can give her a hand. OK, so he doesn’t help her much, but at least he’s around. She can go to the hairdresser’s or to a beauty salon, even go out occasionally. She has someone to take the baby out, to fetch baby bottles at night or to help her bring down the fever when the baby is ill. There is someone around who can help pay the bills or take the older son to a football match.
She asked me how I coped, how I managed to handle all the chores, my work, the child and the stress.
Really, how do I cope? I’m not entirely sure. I just switch myself on and start moving. In the evenings, at some point I press the off button. On second thought, single mothers may not even have an off button. Sometimes my body collapses, but my mind is still active. I woke up in the middle of the night many times because I suddenly remembered something important. I keep making notes, on a piece of paper, on my mobile phone. I email reminders to myself. I don’t think I’m ever even in the sleep mode. And that’s not good. Guilty conscious isn’t good. Stress isn’t good. Everything matters, and yet nothing really does. Pushing yourself too hard isn’t good. Is there a specific genetic code implanted in us or is it that life simply makes us franticly pursue perfection? And there is no such thing. There are no rules. Nothing has to be the way we think it should be.
Last night, when I finally went to bed, I was so tired that I couldn’t sleep. There are so many things that I have to do, so many plans, so many wishes. Too many for one person, however strong or capable she may be.
What kind of message did I want to convey to you through this post? Slow down. Perfection exists only in our heads. Look after yourselves and keep well and healthy. Your child needs a capable mother, but also a healthy mother.