How do I do it?
People ask me all the time how do you do it? My answer is usually, I have no f--king idea. Let me define the type of single mom I am. My son’s father walked out of his life when he was 3 years old. I do not have any support or help from his father. I get nothing, not a penny in child support, no every other weekend, no hey can you take him to practice this week because I am working late. I get nothing. Everything is on me. I work 9 hours a day on top of 3 hours of travel every day. We leave the house when it’s dark and get home when it’s dark. I barely have any waking hours with him as it is, and if I would have put him in school by our house, I would have needed before school and afterschool care. The truth is, I’d rather sit in 3 hours of traffic daily just to have that time with him. Some say I am crazy, but when you literally work so much that you already feel guilty for that, you want to spend as much time – any time – with your child as possible.
My son has been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder, and it takes a toll on our daily life. His brain does not respond to his body the way it should. A collar on a shirt maybe nothing to you but to him it is physical pain that throws him into a meltdown that destroys his entire day. While he is academically smart and has no issues in school, no one knows about the hour fight and tantrum before we get to school because his collar is bothering him, he’s pulling at his shirt and exhibiting aggressive behavior the whole way to school. By the time we get to school my anxiety is through the roof, and each day it’s the same thing. Some days he will fight with me for so long over his shoes not being tight enough and I give up and cancel any plans we may have had. Having a child with this can be challenging and it takes a tremendous a toll on the parent, but with me being the only parent I have no choice but to figure it out. Some days I lose my shit – the reality is I have never been able to leave the house without a fight. I walk on eggshells every day not knowing how he will wake up. His neurologist wants to start him on medication to calm his anxiety. I am having a very hard time deciding if that is the way to go. He is not depressed or sad, he is sensitive and the SPD gives him low self-esteem problems. We are doing Occupational Therapy with the hopes that it will regulates his brain functions. My son is not on the autism spectrum but he has special needs. I will do anything I can to help my son feel better, I have to brush his skin every few hours, give him joint compressions and special vitamins that are awful to take down for him. His separation anxiety makes it almost impossible for him to feel safe when I am not around, people tell me to just let him cry it out but he’s not crying because he wants his way, he’s crying because he feels unsafe.
Then we have all his sports, some of which took a while to adjust to because of the uniforms and equipment but I would never let him quit, especially because he loves it. Trying to help a child that loves and hates something at the same time is extremely hard, so to add on my single mom anxiety that I already have, I have this on top of it.
I have to literally schedule everything I have to do. Between all his sports and practices I don’t have any extra time, and people will say so just let him quit. No, I am not going to make my son think that he can quit anything, especially something he enjoys. It would only make my life easier if I didn’t let him play sports but I don’t care how exhausted I am, I will never take away anything from him that makes him have fun. I will make sure he applies his best to anything he does. I will sacrifice sleeping in on the weekends to be at a football game at 8am. I am the mom that is always running late to practice because I have no one to take my son, and even if I did no one would be able to put on the clothing the way he needs to feel comfortable. I have to make sure everything is super tight and shoes are tied in an exact way to make them feel tight but not loose. It may not make sense to you but it does to me. It’s not easy. Those who do not understand think that he is a spoiled kid who just throws tantrums and that is not it at all. My son is super intelligent and has the most sensitive heart, his meltdowns are not because he’s a brat it’s because he feels different than others. He has told me that his brain is different than others and I will always assure him he is not different in any way. He is good at anything he does once he gets passed the burden of being uncomfortable. A tight shoe might feel like a razor blade to him. His type of needs take patience and while my patience is thin to begin with, I have become a much stronger person for him and for me.
I am his biggest fan. I will be cheering him on no matter what he does. I make him know that I am always proud of him whether he did well or not. I am able to provide my son with a great life, financially and emotionally and no matter how much I want to rip my hair out on some days, knowing that my son is happy is all that matters to me. I am not a perfect mother, I curse like a trucker, I lose my temper, I drink lots of wine, but no matter how hard it is, I get it done and it’s become one of the most rewarding gifts of my life.
To all the single parents, you are doing an amazing job no matter how much you think you suck. You are allowed to scream FUCK and take a deep breath and keep going because let’s face it, I am sure we do just that on a daily basis anyway.