A 24 hour snapshot into the life of this single mom

I didn’t start crying until Maya demanded to know when I was going to return the three quarters I took from her piggy bank.

Let me start from the beginning. First text of the morning, from my property manager, showing me a photo of a water leak spreading on the first floor ceiling. One that indicates the drywall will have to be replaced, and the source of the leak is not known. This is my sister’s house. I visited the empty lot before it was built when I was 13. I spent many many hours there, happily with my sister. I took care of her husband, cleaning up his blood when he was busy dying with cancer and she was already dead. I carried her son up and down the stairs and up and down and down and up ad nauseam. I completely fell apart there, ripped through the seams when my brother in law told me about the last hours of my sister’s life there. It is a beautiful, two story, log cabin style home, full of love and memories and bitter sadness. Now it is mine to run. This past year has been problem after problem with it. Evicting non paying tenants, other plumbing problems, and in general issues that have cost a lot to repair and causing extra work. So the last thing I wanted, was to see proof that yet another problem had arisen. I texted the appropriate responses, contacted my dearest, oldest friend for her help. In so many ways I am surrounded by people that I don’t know what I would do without. How do I do this. How can I fix it. How do I cope.

In the meanwhile, my mother has lost her purse. I feel guilt for not making it to her house in December. I tried flying to her, twice. Once I sat on a plane at the gate for about 2 hours while they repaired a part, knowing damn well I was going to miss my connection even though I asked repeatedly to be taken off the flight should that eventuality occur. I ended up in Phoenix, with no guaranteed seat, anywhere remotely close to Norfolk. So I returned home. They lost my bag, which went on the trip I was supposed to go on, but returned four days later while I never reached past Phoenix. I’m doing everything I can to follow her wishes. This part is hard. She tells me not to neglect my family in order to help her. We have a lot of history and a lot of troubled water under that bridge. I’m still trying to help her. When I made myself get up that second morning, to go on a trip I just knew in my heart wasn’t going happen, I told myself if I were nearing the end of my life, I would want Maya to come see me. To see her face. Not knowing how many more visits, days, or months or years we would have left together. It’s not my fault Mom lost her purse, yet I am consumed by worry someone has gotten her cards and used them. So I do the only logical thing. I lock myself out of our bank because I can’t remember the password, and it’s an east coast organization meaning I can’t call to fix the lock out, cancel her card or make sure her account is secure for another 12 hours. She asks me how will she handle her finances if I cancel her card. I gently remind her that without her card, she can’t handle her finances. I write all her checks now anyway. But I don’t remind her of that. Trying to preserve her dignity.

I’m trying to get Dmitri into a new program. Hoping we can curb some of the more difficult intellectual disability behaviors to try and expand his potential more. The doctors are always so enthusiastic to push you off on a new phone number, a new program, and to let you let a light of hope in. Until you call and call and call that number and discover there is a 1,600 person wait list. I have a mountain of paperwork to fill out before the appointment. I pick up the packet, and set it down again, multiple times, with my mind on my sister’s house, my mom’s lost wallet, the fact that my landlord can’t find the check I’ve already sent, the Virginia house paperwork I have to fill out that day, the Dmitri guardianship paperwork I have to fill out that day, the important bill I have to mail on behalf of my mom, instead trying to clear my mind enough to focus on “having fun” by spending my day with Maya at Disney, because I want to see one of my oldest friends and her family. I don’t fill out the paperwork, maybe tomorrow it will be easier to do. Maybe I can face that I will fill out the pages and pages and we’ll be told we’re on a new, shinier wait list, while I fret and worry about how to raise this young, disabled, man into manhood.

After a great day, and a visit that I enjoyed very much, I get a text about the neighborhood lice situation. Maya has it. I (sort of, mostly) hold it together. Dmitri and I don’t have it. I start the cleaning process. I’m 75 cents short for all of the loads of laundry. I scrounge around the house until I find three quarters. Working, working to comb her and treat her and treat myself and ensure D is free of it (thank god he is, with his fragile immune system). I’m itching all over, haven’t had hives regularly since I left my marriage. I wish the psychosomatic itching would stop, already. I start the arduous, manual labor of cleaning and combing, and the humiliating labor of contacting the mothers of anyone we’ve played with in the past two weeks to share the painful news that my child has lice and I am so sorry, but please check your kid. With many, many apologies.

I take out the trash, do the dishes, the mountain of preventative lice laundry. Maya cries because I try to teach her the lesson that it can’t always be about you and sometimes you have to wait for Mama’s help because Mama is working. My heart hurts. I don’t hit her or surround her by people that tell her women should be covered in long skirts, without earrings and makeup in order to truly love the lord, that women are valued less, and belong in the home, with less worth than men. And yet I wonder if she will come out of childhood feeling about me the way I felt about my mother, and that if I’m like my mom and my memory goes, will she help me like I help my mother, and call me every day, and worry and visit and do all of the things that I have done for someone who caused me so much pain and strife in my own life. Dmitri goes to school in a pair of swim trunks the next morning and I am too tired to fight and bargain and threaten to take away his music to get him to wear regular clothes, so I just let him. Everyone gets a shower and their nails cut. Except me. Sometimes it’s not always about me and sometimes I have to wait.

On most days I’m proud of all I do and all I’ve accomplished and how I successfully navigate being a single parent and handled the challenges. Some days Maya asks for her goddamn 75 cents, the only payment I’ll receive for the barely moveable mountain of work lice will cause me to do, and I’ll feel like that’s all? That’s all it’s worth? Seventy five cents? And then I’ll cry, a lot, until it makes other people uncomfortable and I’ll tell myself, Sometimes it’s not always about me. And sometimes I have to wait.


About Michelle

Knitting Tin Hats since 2004.
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