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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.

 

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