The other day I was listening to a re-broadcast podcast on This American Life. The question being posed was what superpower you would have, if you could choose between either invisibility or flight? “Flight” I thought immediately. “I’m a 46 year old single mother so I’m already invisible”.
This morning, after a particularly poor display of parenting on my part, possibly in my top 5 of all time poor parenting moments, I started thinking about what superpowers I might really like to get through this single parenting gig alive. And more so, to get my children through to a point where they won’t have to spend large chunks of their future incomes on therapy, undoing the mistakes of their mother.
Single parenting is a really tough gig. Ask anyone who has ever done it. There are many highs of course, but boy are there some lows. One of which occurred this morning. I wish I could go back and react differently, but of course I can’t.
So after this unpleasantness I got to thinking about superpowers again and if I could have any superpower at all, I think I would choose the ability to clone myself. People often say that being a single parent means having to be both mother and father. And I suppose it is to some extent, at least in an abstract sense. But it’s not possible to be two people, you’re just one and it’s really hard.
I am 4 weeks out from having had major surgery. I go back to work tomorrow and I am dreading it. Mainly because I have no one at home to pick up the slack. No one to tag in and help out with homework and arguments and laundry and groceries and cooking and housework and the myriad other things that go into running a household with kids.
When I had my surgery my mother came to stay for just over a week and was a wonderful help but relying on my mum for help only serves to remind me of how very little help I have at home.
That’s the thing with single parenting. There’s only one income, one person upon whose shoulders everything falls. When it’s good, it’s fine. I get through and congratulate myself on what a great job I’m doing. When it’s bad, it’s really bad. Like when you just can’t take another whining child complaining that everything you do is wrong. There’s no one to share an eye roll with or who says “here’s a glass of wine” as you share a consoling hug before you go into the next round of battle.
There’s no one to do the housework or mow the lawn or cook some meals or who can take the kids out to the movies to give you a break for a few hours. And this is really tough.
Having another adult around makes all the difference. I don’t want to get married again to fill this void. That sort of thing brings with it a whole new set of problems, which I just don’t have the energy to deal with. But if I could clone myself then there would be someone else to lean on when things got really rough, someone who could commiserate but also someone who could celebrate when things were good again.
Right now I am feeling sorry for myself. I had a fight with my kids, once again their father has behaved badly, something for which I must bear the brunt. I am going back to work, the house is a mess, I can’t lift anything heavier than a milk carton and the lawn is getting so long again that the cat is doing her lion impression as she stalks unsuspecting birds. It sucks around here right now.
I know things will pick up again. I know I am incredibly strong and independent and resilient and the good times will roll back in just as surely as the bad times will.
But oh how nice it would be, just to have two.