What it Actually Feels Like when I’m Sitting at Home with the Kid(s)

It’s relatively quiet for a moment.  There is an atmosphere of peace for about 5 minutes and 29 point 2 seconds.  My house smells like shit (literally, because there is a cranky 2 year old with diarrhea running around), I have one of those lightweight, airy, fleeting headaches and my ass hurts from sitting in this hard chair trying to finish a blog post unsuccessfully (I’ve been on paragraph 2 for the last 3 hours).  I am marveling at my friend whose 3 kids I am currently watching and pontificating how she maintains any type of sanity in all this. I’m thinking maybe she is an alien or superhero or super human and if I just stay patient she will eventually reveal her secret to the world because she is amazing and I need some of that mommy super power mojo.  “I want juice,” someone whines, I can hear the smack talk of two preteen boys playing video games and there is a 10 year old girl gabbing on Facetime about pancakes in my living room so I can’t even go veg out on my couch.  How do I feel? Tired. Depressed. Desperate. Desolate.

I check Instagram to see what people are up to.  Friends having brunch and drinks without me.  Friends being creative and honing their life gifts (without me). Friends living a life that seems spontaneous and picture worthy (without me).  No one wants to see posts of me in the same clothes I had on yesterday with my hair sticking straight up outta my head and a light crust of snot under my nose because I simply do not have the mental or physical energy to remember to wipe it off. Being a parent is often like living on a deserted and uncharted island and watching cruise ships go by while waving the white S.O.S. flag but knowing everyone else is too drunk and having too much fun to notice you standing alone. I sink further into the mommy hole of despair and the shame thoughts begin.  How do I feel?  Stupid. Worthless. Common. Lost. Damaged.

These are the thoughts you can’t express because everyone gives you sympathy (pity) and not empathy (compassion) and secretly they want to say (or not so secretly because they have said) this is all your fault. You put yourself in this situation anyway so why complain?  Telling me it’s my own fault I have kid(s) and so I should just shut up about it is like telling a lung cancer patient to suck it up; you shouldn’t have taken that first drag at 13!  Damn it, I know it’s my fault but can I at least get a hand hold, a back rub and some good vibes in the process? Everyone revers motherhood but no one respects it.

Having children ruins your life and it happens because you wanted to do the right thing.  When the test came up positive and you knew there was a life growing inside of you, you thought to yourself, “It can’t be all that bad, can it?”  But it is.  Your whole life is stolen and I think the worst thing about it is that you’re constantly told it hasn’t been.  Do you tell a person who has been mugged they still have their wallet?  But you do tell moms, “You can do it all! You still have your life!  Why the hell aren’t you doing awesome things with it? It’s all right there laid out in front of you so shut up!” Meanwhile, I can barely get dressed some days without having to attend to someone else every 5 minutes so unripped underwear and no clown like makeup? Forget it! Being a parent means forgoing your needs for the needs of others and gritting through a grin to make everyone else comfortable and give the illusion that you’re happy about juggling it all.

It is the constant dilemma of knowing you’re friends don’t want to hang out with you because you have a kid and also feeling you will never have a healthy romantic relationship when you’re told you’re undateable because you have a kid.  It’s waking up at 5:45 EVERY FUCKING MORNING even on the weekends because you’re so used to taking care of somebody else and making waffles at the ass crack of dawn.  It’s blogging and fixing dinner at the same damn time and realizing you just got garlic and butter all over your computer.  It’s not getting the invitations to the party anymore and knowing you live in the biggest most creative city in the world but having that constant itchy feeling in the back of your brain that you’re always missing that concert, that art show, that networking event, that experience because you don’t have a babysitter.  It’s being asked constantly, “Why don’t you just get a babysitter?” like it were as easy (or cheap) as picking and paying for lettuce at Pathmark for a mesclun salad.

The hole that I float into when I sit in the house with the kid(s) is so deep and wide and dark it sometimes takes me days to claw my way back out.  But crawl upwards I always do.  And though my knees come up bruised and my hands are raw and ragged and my heart is racing, when my head finally clears the top I am relieved.  I dust myself off and marvel at my own strength; pride myself at making it through.  I am glad I am so strong but when do I get to stop being strong?  When do I stop being Strong Black Single Mom?  When do I get a break?  

I already know the answer: I don’t get a break because I chose this.  This was my choice.  But was it really a choice at all?  I did choose to have to have a child, I take full responsibility for that.  But was it REAL choice?  Did I choose for abortion to be such a dirty worded stigma that at the time I couldn’t bear the shame and the brand it would leave on me as a woman so I choose to be martyr instead?  Did I choose for most of my friends to be waaaayyy smarter than me and never take the plunge of motherhood so that Miles never grew up with a friend his own age and we are always going it alone?  Or did I choose for the mommy friends I know on the same journey to be run so ragged and be so tired and look so spent that they have no time to build and cultivate relationships with other adult women while also maintaining a home?  Did I choose to have a co-parent who understandably choose freedom and opportunity over family and responsibility and gets to live the life of spontaneous adulthood I often wake in the middle of the night clawing at my sweaty pajamas longing for? A choice is a choice and I made one but at the end of it all, what choice did I really have?

Somebody is now arguing over who gets to tell the first scary story so I have to go break that up.  My 5 minute respite is up and it’s back to reality where no one actually cares how I feel.  But what I actually feel when I’m watching the kid(s) is this: What kind of life am I leading for them to write about in my obituary?  It’s a morbid but sobering thought.  It reminds me that no matter how deep in shame I get about ending up here, a single mom, a cliche, a joke, I am just that: I’m here.  And even with kids begging me for cookies and crayon marks all over my walls it’s time to let go of the pity party for one and make the best of what I’ve got.  So I change one more diaper, wipe off the counter for the 16th time, and start typing this post.

One thought on “What it Actually Feels Like when I’m Sitting at Home with the Kid(s)

  1. Kyesha Ruffin says:

    Sorry about this weekend, like my 2yr old you were watching I had a shitty night😰. We will have time to hang soon. We need to cash in that offer from my hubby before it expires. You are an amazing mother. Amazing. By the way my super power is just ignoring them. That's all😉


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