I’ve weathered a lot of things on my own since my ex-husband moved out. Broken snow blowers, a flooded basement, what I thought was a gas leak, and my rear and front axles going on my car at the same time. That one led to my car being in the shop for a few days and having to rent one so I could drive my kiddos around. I’d forgotten the luxury of having two vehicles in the household.
All those things were hard.
It’s been over three years since he’s moved out and I’m just now finding my groove. I’m used to the larger workload when my kids are here, and I’m used to the silence when they are gone. I’m used to having to Google how to turn off water lines and ask my son to help me figure out technical stuff. If I put a piece of furniture together, I know it will be rickety.
My new normal means if I want it done, I need to find the time to do it. I miss the kind of sixth sense connection you can have with a partner. Like when they just know they need to step it up because you are fading away with every passing second—the kind of bond which enables you to jump in fast for each other when you know your spouse is losing hope.
COVID-19 has shut most people off from the world. And it wasn’t something I ever thought I would have to take on, let alone taking it on as a single mother.
To say I’m worried is an understatement. To handle that anxiety as a single parent is crippling.
There isn’t a warm body lying next to me at night, reassuring me it will all be okay—even if they aren’t sure it will be okay. Those are the times when words and a gentle tone are what I need to get through to the next day. And I don’t have it.
Instead, I have three teenagers who are looking to me to come through for them in the same way I would look to my parents if this was happening when I was a teenager. They want to hang out with their friends. They’re overwhelmed when they see all their school work staring at them each morning. After all, they are used to getting it gradually throughout the day, not in one big clump. They miss going to the movies and being able to walk in a restaurant and get a soda from a machine. They know I’m scared and uncertain, so they are scared and uncertain too.
I want to sop up as much of that fear and uncertainty as I can. But I refuse to do it with promises I can’t keep and infusing false positivity into their brains. I will not try and keep it together every day, only to lose it when they go to bed.
I will not act like I have it all under control—because I don’t.
This is a scary time. If there was ever a time for a wingman, it’s now. But, I’m learning that it’s okay to be struggling in a time like this and to let my kids know about it. This is not the time to put so much pressure on myself to do epic things for my kids. Sometimes, I’m only able to do the bare minimum.
I am real, I am human, and I know I am not alone. If you are a single mother trying to make it through this pandemic alone, I see you. Please give yourself as much grace as you need to get through this. Your kids don’t want to see you put yourself through the ringer and compromise your physical and mental health.
I want to teach my kids what it looks like to do my best in times of uncertainty. I want to teach them that expressing our emotions is a strength, not a weakness. And most of all, I want to show them that sometimes I might break down, but that in no way means I am broken.