Category Archives: Parenting

Trust The Struggle

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Limbo is the best word to describe this last week. I don’t deal with life very well when I’m in limbo. I know from much experience that bad times don’t last, but that realization doesn’t necessarily make the struggles easier or less painful. It might make it easier to simply just endure.

This week of limbo was tough. I have a couple of weeks of vacation (unpaid) coming up. This was the first of those two weeks. I spent the entire week, wondering what the verdict would be on my vehicle. Were they going to opt to repair it, or would they total it. When the estimated cost to repair the vehicle (and it was never certain that it could really be repaired) reached $18,000+, they called me and said, “It’s a goner.”

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Illness and the Single Parent

Parenting is tough enough when there are two parents in the home.  It is even more challenging when a parent has to parent solo. There is no longer another person to help out with getting kids to various activities and events.  There isn’t another person to help with the cooking, grocery shopping and household chores.  By the time the afternoon taxi runs are done, dinner is finished and cleaned up, a single parent is often ready to collapse, but then, there is  homework to supervise, or television to monitor, or any number of things that require tending to.  The life of a single parent is often one of sheer fatigue and exhaustion.  And that’s if the parent is in good health.  Should a single parent come down with the flu, life then becomes impossible.

I used to think, when I was married, that moms were never able to get sick.  My husbands, when they got sick, collapsed and could have cared less about what went on around them.  And I, being the dutiful wife, made sure they were unable to sleep undisturbed until whatever it was passed.  Sadly, I have never had these kindnesses reciprocated.  During the few times I did get sick, I was not allowed to sleep, I was constantly interrupted by children’s demands.  I was still expected to cook and clean as if nothing was the matter.  In my second marriage, I contracted walking pneumonia and had just been told by the doctor that I was ill enough to be admitted to the hospital.  She left the choice up to me and I went home.  My sensitive husband, having just heard the doctor’s diagnosis, decided to have all of his relatives (some 23 or more) over at our house for an afternoon. Imagine it.  23  people, most of them loud, obnoxious children, in our 1400 square foot home.  I should have taken up the offer for hospitalization.   This is just one of many reasons why he is now known to me as “The Evil Ex”.

This weekend, I was sick.  Not just runny nose, coughing kind of sick.  I was flat-on-my-back-couldn’t-move sick.  It started out as a sore throat, and the next day every muscle in my body hurt so badly I was nearly paralyzed with pain.  I was a little congested, but not much, and no cough.  No nausea, except for a few hours one evening.  I just could not move, and I had the worst headache ever…for three days.   I haven’t been that sick in a very long time.

Needless to say, everything in my world stopped.

No laundry was done.  No groceries shopped for.  No housecleaning happened.  Nothing.

In my world, if these things don’t get done during the weekend, they don’t get done until the next weekend, and that creates problems for us in getting through the week. Since my dryer is still not working, I had to wait until I had enough energy and strength to haul the wet laundry down the stairs and into the car to go to the laundromat and dry them.  Then, of course, there’s the return trip where I haul the dry laundry up the stairs and put it away. Fixing meals?  Thank goodness I had some of those quick microwave burritos on hand or my kids would have starved.  That combined with the fact that it was a weekend where my kids were all at their other homes made it possible for me to get some rest and sleep it off.  I’m feeling better now.  Still weak.  Dizzy.  But I can move.  I have some energy to do small tasks, if I rest in between.

At times like these, I truly wonder how we single parents make it through.  I am grateful my kids are older and can do most things for themselves.  They understand that I’m not up to par and they pretty much leave me alone. My heart goes out to those single parents dealing with younger children, and fewer resources or support systems than I have.  I wonder how they make it through.

 

Now Guess What

Last night I felt it start. That sore, scratchy feeling that you hope is merely seasonal allergies. It turns out it might be something worse; upper respiratory something or other.

I’m exhausted from battling the sneezing and running eyes and nose. Now I have a cough.

The downside to being a parent is that you sometimes get what they got. Sadly, parents, especially single parents, don’t get the luxury of being able to be sick.

I am also out of NyQuil.

Sibling Squabbles

One of the most difficult aspects of parenting is when siblings squabble. You know how it starts: Sibling A says a comment to Mom about some random non-threatening topic. Sibling B has some problem with Sibling A for whatever reason and makes some snide insulting remark in response to A’s comment to Mom. A takes offense, as expected, and before you know it there is a full scale war going on.

I hate this.

This is how my afternoon with my teenagers went. My A child has trouble with her B, Brother. She picks on him, mercilessly. She started in when I picked them up after school and by the time we got home, they were about ready to come to blows about who knew more about politics and current events. I’m certain neither of them know anything about politics, but we’ll just let that small minor detail go.

I’d say this happens often, but that would be an understatement. Child A created an art form of mocking and torturing her brother.

No matter what tips, techniques, systems or strategies I use to intervene, it is useless. She continues.

Does anyone have any ideas about how to deal with the child who continually badgers a sibling? I’m at my rope’s end. I don’t exactly want to tie a knot. I’m frustrated, and might just on accident create a noose.

Bring On The Empty Nest

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One of the biggest challenges ever, for me, besides being completely inept when it comes to choosing marriage partners, is the act of parenting. Getting pregnant and being pregnant and even delivering the babies was the easy part, but parenting especially through divorce, financial hardship and the rest of life, has not been the easiest thing I’ve ever attempted.

For starters, I am not one of those nurturing people. A kid falls down and skins their knee slightly and I’m likely to brush the incident off with a brief, “Get up, dust yourself off, you’ll be okay.” I am also not the hover mother or helicopter mom. It isn’t that I’m not involved with my kids, but I do believe that one should never do for a child what the child can do for him or herself. This, I find, annoys children to no end.

I remember my mother telling me when my children were young, that things got better as the children got older. I remember, when my kids were toddlers, hoping that was true. I remember being so exhausted all.the.time. And, for the most part, when the kids became potty trained and could dress themselves and headed off to school, it was.

Then they kept growing up. Then they reached middle school and high school. Those are the years where their social lives explode and they aren’t yet old enough to drive. This was something I was unprepared for. It was like the busy-ness and energy drain of the toddler years on steroids and then doubled since, at any given time, I had at least two and often three or four kids’ schedules to juggle. On two occasions, I was so exhausted and stressed that I ended up in minor fender benders, not from intoxication, but from fatigue.

That wasn’t that long ago. These days, I have a 21-year-old that is away at college and won’t be home for summer. I have an 18-year-old that just got her permit. She is working on learning to drive now. By summer, she should be more independent. I have an almost-17-year-old son who doesn’t have his permit. If insurance rates for him are what I think they are going to be, it might be quite a bit longer before he’s driving. He does have a bike and he can get around to pretty much anywhere that way.

But my kids, as grown up as they are, as independent as they are becoming, still have not learned to pick up after themselves or to help out (without being told) around the house. This, combined with the constant schedule disruptions and taxi service I must provide daily, is wearing me out. This last week, with everyone home for Spring Break, leaving their stuff about and having to be told twenty times to do a basic task like empty the trash or unload the dishwasher or pick your clothes up off the floor, I lost it. The final straw was when I told my son he forgot to rinse out his bowl and put it in the dishwasher and he responded with, “You didn’t tell me I needed to do that.” No, I didn’t. I do tell him to do this a thousand times a day and the one time I don’t? Yes, it induced a fit of craziness in me. It’s at this point, that all rationality leaves me and I end up in a catatonic stupor or I end up banging my head against the nearest wall.

Tonight, this same young man, at 9:45 pm, after the day is pretty much over…a day which included a trip to the grocery store…texted me the following:

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I’m actually fairly impressed with myself that I texted him that response instead of switching into Shrieking Mom mode. Fortunately, I had an extra toothbrush on hand. Obviously, this has happened before. The craziest part of all is that he has his own drawer in the bathroom he shares with his sisters. How hard can it be to get a toothbrush back into the drawer, or underwear into the laundry basket which is a mere eight inches away or trash into a trash can as opposed to decorating the bedroom carpet with it?

Yes, tonight I’ve picked on one child, but I have four and they are all equally as talented as their brother. These talents weren’t ones I encouraged. I expect children,at minimum, to pick up after themselves and I’ve diligently worked to establish and teach routines, procedures, and to implement systems that are efficient and help keep our home clean with a minimum of effort. In spite of the fact that I do have a career outside the home which is, at times, very demanding and draining, I’m not one of those overwhelmed moms whose homes you go to where stuff is scattered everywhere, dishes are piled high in the sink, and clothing or dirty dishes cover every remaining surface. In spite of my best efforts to get my kids to communicate in advance what their schedule is, to organize themselves, and to pick up after themselves, the kids aren’t getting it. I have, apparently, completely failed in my parental obligations on this front.

Weeks like this kind of have me looking forward to that stage of life called the empty nest. Sadly, I have an entire decade left before that happens. Just as the youngest one launches, the oldest will return home unemployed with graduate degree in hand (at least that’s what everyone tells me is going to happen). With any luck, I’ll be able to enjoy a few empty nest years before I am relegated to the assisted living facility. I can only hope.

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