Kids came back today,
and it took all my energy
to help with homework,
and get them to bed.
(And tidy and take the trash out
and moderate arguments
and put them back in bed five times.)
I want to cry out like a wolf,
I want to be heard by other single parents everywhere.
I want them to respond to my cries,
my messy wolf pack,
saying You aren’t alone.
I hear you.
I feel this way too.
Howling in the dark together
raising a ruckus
strength in numbers
Can we change this heaviness together?
I don’t know.
I’ll just keep howling
until I can sink into sleep.
I’m amazed I’ve been able to keep up this pace,
2-3 yoga classes a day for two months,
but I’m not just doing this for me,
I’m doing it for my kids and for my students too.
I’m doing it for the ripples of peace and goodwill
that flow out into the world
when I make just one person’s day a little brighter.
It’s amazing how I can find the strength to go on,
day after day, feeling tired, feeling wiped out,
feeling like I have nothing left at the end of the day,
and yet, each morning I wake up,
and I’m ready to do it all over again.
This feels like I’m being trained for something even bigger.
This feels like an opportunity to flex
my resilience muscles,
my endurance muscles,
my persistence muscles,
my faith muscles.
A year ago, I felt weak and destroyed,
devastated, betrayed, abandoned…
But now look…
Just look at how strong I am now.
A nightmare woke me up at 4:30am;
even with the light on I didn’t feel safe.
As sleep was out of the question at that point
I began to read and lost myself in bits about
blue-zone cultures and longevity.
And then breakfast and meditation
and yoga classes 1-2-3,
finishing at 12:30
talking on the drive home
with a dear friend in Colorado
going through some stuff of her own…
and reordering business cards
and thinking about writing an
“about me” for my website
which has lain dormant for two years,
and a shower, ahh…hot, beautiful water…
and then it struck me.
My daily life used to feel like a nightmare.
I would pray to god to give me beautiful dreams
so that I could find solace at night when I slept.
Now, between working as much as I can teaching yoga
and taking care of my two beautiful children,
my life has become more fluid and easy
and I feel more empowered.
This was the dream I was looking for
at this time last year.
and now it’s real.
Without knowing when it would happen or how,
I’ve lived into a more powerful version of myself.
Today I feel strong, healthy and happy.
In comparison to the nightmare it once was,
today my life feels beautiful and light.
And I am so grateful.
I’ve been working a lot harder
in order to make ends meet.
Between working and mothering
there isn’t much time or energy for anyting else.
They say all work and no play makes us dull,
but I feel so fortunate,
because I love my work.
I love teaching yoga.
I love helping my students relax and find center.
I am grateful that I get paid to help people be happier
with themselves, their bodies, their minds, their lives.
It somehow feels ok that I don’t have time
or money for a fancy vacation…
So maybe my work is my play?
At some point things will be clearer for me,
and I’ll be able to leverage my gifts, talents and abilities
to earn even more income doing what I love,
but until that time I’ll keep working hard
at this yoga teaching gig,
loving what I do,
loving the people who come to my classes,
loving that my work feels like play.
I’ve been working my @ss off,
trying to boost my finances
for what will come.
I’m tired, overhwhelmed,
my body aches, my mind is fuzzy,
and I’m flooded with a sense of futility.
And it hits me…
I’m doing what my
grandmothers and grandfathers did…
I am struggling just to get by.
I thought when I married him
I’d be taken care of.
I’d raise our children
and take care of the house
and he would take care of us.
But that dream was shattered
in an ugly, unkind way.
How can my faith in life be restored?
My family struggled through
the Great Depression.
And countless ancestors before them
struggled through poverty, famine,
sickness, and endless toil…
and through it all…
they somehow survived to procreate.
And so I was given a chance at life.
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been given this chance.
If I had known I would end up here,
wondering where I’ll live
and if I’ll have the mental fortitude to keep going,
I’m not sure I would’ve signed on.
What’s the point of living
when you’re struggling just to get by?
And I’m being asked to take on
and even greater challenge…
be strong for my progeny,
give them a reason to keep going,
pretend through it all
that I’m good at this,
that I like this,
that this is all ok.
Hats off to all the single moms out there
who managed to pull this off…
you deserve an award for your performance.
But frankly I resent being here.
I resent the weight of this burden.*
*I just want to acknowledge that in comparison to many, many people on this planet I am doing quite well. I currently have food, clothing, shelter (for now) and access to resources that could be of help. I recognize that all my whining and moaning and complaining about my situation here might elicit absolutely no sympathy at all from people who have been through far worse. I’m just sharing how I feel. I don’t expect that my feelings make sense to anyone. I’m just sitting in the middle of my own suffering wishing I could get away from it. Maybe one person out there knows this feeling. Maybe one person out there now knows that they aren’t alone.
I just want to be a good mother.
I try so hard.
And at the end of the day,
I lose it sometimes.
I lose it with my kids
when I’m tired and they’re tired.
There used to be another adult around
who’d step in
when I couldn’t anymore.
That adult is gone.
When I’m tired and sick
there is no one else to take care of me
I’m tired of taking care of myself,
tired of being alone.
I want help.
It’s in these moments
that the anger wells up
if I don’t stop it.
I get angry for being thrust into this place
of missing my kids when they’re not here
and overwhelmed when they are.
I’m tired of this mess, this story.
I can do so well for hours and hours.
I can be proud of my mothering,
the balance I manage to find.
But at the end of the day
I’m tired and they’re tired
and sometimes I just lose it.
Both of my kids are in bed.
We had a great night;
coaxed them through homework,
they ate a good dinner,
Then we read two chapters
of Prince Caspian
and now they’re in bed.
I’m feeling like a successful
single mother right about now.
Spring was in the air,
so I threw open
all the windows,
rolled up my sleeves,
and got to work.
Load after load of laundry,
sorting through odd bits,
so much cleaning.
Kids got home
and we went out,
out to the forest.
We slogged through mud,
and fallen logs,
Back home, homework,
I AM SO EXHAUSTED
AND I THINK I MIGHT HATE
THIS IS NOT
WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR
Then I write this
stream of consciousness poem,
and soon I’ll write in my
Ahh, I made it through another day.
Kids woke me up at night.
Lost my temper. Yelled.
Too angry to sleep.
Tossed and turned all night.
Morning came. Groggy.
Meditation was a joke.
Worried my teaching would be compromised.
Taught two yoga classes anyway.
Grocery store, card declined,
scrambling to scrape up money;
a girlfriend lent me the rest of what I needed.
(Had to drive to her house to borrow a card
and drive it back again.)
Turned it around,
read the kids a story.
Snuggled my son.
He said he loved me.
Then he said he loved his dad.
The he said he loved the other woman.
He said her name as we were snuggling.
The kids went to their rooms. To bed.
I lost it again.
I was slamming and screaming
This isn’t fair!
I don’t deserve this.
Slamming and screaming.
Don’t traumatize the children.
I asked my husband to get the kids.
I told him I needed to get help.
He came and got them.
My daughter cried;
she didn’t want to leave.
I tried to reassure her that I’m going to be ok.
I was trying to reassure myself too.
Spoke with two recovery friends.
Feeling a little better.
Trying to rest now.
Wish me luck.
Taking my hat off
and bowing low
to the single parents out there
who keep it together
day after day.
How do they do it?
How do they get their own needs met?
Today was an exceptional day–
I wasn’t able to find childcare
so that I could teach my evening yoga class
and was longingly thinking of my students
when 6pm rolled around and it was time
to concoct some kind of reasonably healthy meal for the kids.
In addition to not getting my normal time out
(and interacting with adults)
my husband had plans to meet a friend
So not only did I not get to leave the house,
but my back up was not going to arrive in the normal time frame.
Eight hours, just me and the kids.
I watched myself grow more tired as the day wore on
My fuse was shorter
I even felt some resentment creeping in.
I caught myself snapping at my kids
and immediately apologized.
And then I wondered about the single parents.
How do they do it?
How do they keep their cool
and raise healthy, well-adjusted children?
I take off my hat and bow low to you,
and acknowledge that finding balance
in your busy life is no small feat.
After eight hours of tasting single parenthood,
I’m in awe of those whose love
shines more clearly
than the stress, the fatigue, the isolation.
I take my hat off to you.
And I thank you for all that you do.