Monday, August 12, 2013

Single Moms, Part 2 (Toddler Gone Wild)

Today started out as any other, I had two days at work this week and that was plenty of time to get my "must do before I leave" list cleared. I was sitting at my desk tackling the thing I like the least first when my phone rang. That call that no parent, single or otherwise, wants to get. My son had gotten a cut above his eye and they wanted me to take him to the doctor. A little discombobulated I managed to call his doctor's office and make an appointment while emailing my boss and setting my out of office reply. That done I caught a cab and had my little boy in my arms in record time. He was having a snack and threw the ice pack away by himself so he was obviously handling it very well. I agreed that a trip to the doctor's and not the ER. was in order and so we headed on the train and bus 75 minute trip.  The joys of living in a city without a car. The worst part was cleaning and putting Derma Bond on the cut at the doctor'a but luckily he didn't need stitches. My little tough guy even managed a polite thank you in between sobs for the terrific nurse practitioner. 

Two weeks ago, the whole thing would have stressed me beyond belief. In the last two weeks he's tried to jump off a jungle gym only to succeed seconds late over the top of the slide. That trip to the ER scared me to death?  Diagnoses after two hours?  He doesn't like doctors.  Treatment?  They gave him a Popsicle. I am not kidding. In the weeks between, my little twenty-one month old has been testing his physical boundaries and my mental ones non-stop. 

As a single-mom I haven't had a break. I literally crash at night as soon a he does from sheer physical and mental exhaustion. Nights are still a challenge for us so most nights I am up at least twice. Even if he self-soothes himself back to sleep, I am awake. My volunteer and writing times have been cut as those are after he goes to sleep activities. 

Honestly, there have been days that I wondered how I can keep it up. And then Saturday night, in the middle of the worst play date/dinner ever, I got the gift that I needed. I happened to be with another single mom of a boy the same age (who was acting like an angel) when my sweet boy decided to protest sitting and eating. After I made two attempts at walking around the block to calm him down, I asked if she wanted to just take them to the ball field/playground across the street and let them run. I didn't know what else to do. Luckily she said yes.  They ran, and giggled, and played with each other and I even managed to laugh. She confessed that her son had been that way the week before and that really helped. She understood the "never stop" feelings I was having and convinced me to schedule a babysitter and just take a night off. So, while another true friend is playing with my little champion, I got some shopping for an upcoming trip done and am sitting in Barnes and Noble drinking tea and writing.  Just knowing that someone else thought this was hard and I wasn't the worst parent in the world for needing some down time made a huge difference. Reaching out and asking for help from her (to get through that night) and from my other friend to babysit were both very hard for me but I am so thankful they were there to help me push my way through. 

Life is like that regardless of whether you are single or in a relationship, a parent or not. There are times that we have to choose to ask for help or push ourselves to a place we cannot go by ourselves.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, rather it is recognition that we are social creatures and we need other humans to get through this crazy world. I am so thankful for my two friends who have come to my aid (whether they knew what they were contributing or not) this week and hope that I am as good a friend to others. 

When do you ask for help?  Who do you ask?