We’ve all been a part of a team where an individual carried the workload to meet a deadline with success. That struggle only lasts a few days, maybe weeks. The struggle of raising a child as a single parent lasts for over 18 years. I’m 25 and still seeking help from mom. Now, some years are tougher than others. I’m only up to year 5 and the systematic changes in our routine is the uphill battle. I’ve learned to adapt quickly because there is no room for error but it is hard AF (AF is necessary). My mornings aren’t a complete without Sofia telling me to, “Stop rushing her!” and, “Stop yelling at me!” What does my yelling consist of you may ask? “Hurry up or we’re going to be late and I’ll lose my job and we’ll be poor!” Those are my exact words. Yes, I believe putting the fear of poverty is essential. No money = No new Play-Doh. Simple.
My mornings have been meticulously calculated. It’s definitely a science with variables and a lot of trial and error. I wake up around 6:30 AM and walk into Sofia’s room telling her it’s time to wake up. I do this without the expectation of her getting up. I hop in the shower and soak in the last few minutes of peacefulness. Sofia eats 5 mini pancakes every morning – one for every year of her life. I throw them in the microwave and proceed to rip her out of bed. If she isn’t sleeping by 8:30 PM, the morning battle turns into ripping out of bed AND tears. She eats her pancakes and I get dressed and pack my things. I grab her uniform and like clockwork, tell her to eat her pancakes faster. It never fails. We get dressed. Brush her hair and argue about teeth brushing. It includes a foot stomp and door slam. On a scale of 1-10, Sofia is at a 2 when it comes to teeth brushing. She sucks the toothpaste off the brush and calls it a day. I told her all her teeth will fall out and she will spend her days eating apple sauce and mashed potatoes. Her response, “Well, I can eat ice cream too because I don’t need to bite that, I can lick it.”
Mom – 0 | Sofia – 1
In order to be on schedule, we need to be out the door by 7:22 AM. What time do we usually get out? Not 7:22 AM. We take a bus across town to her school, I drop her off, and take the bus back to reach the subway. By 8:20 AM I feel like I have accomplished a triathlon and won fourth place – meaning, I don’t have much to show for it except exhaustion. 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM is spent working. 5:01 PM I make the mad dash to the elevator in hopes the subways are working properly and I can make it to the school by 6:00 PM. Now, I “technically” am a 20-minute subway ride to Forest Hills but we all want the best education for our children so Sofia goes to a school that isn’t exactly a hop & skip away. At 6:00 PM, we take a bus back towards town and our home. We always come up with a ‘plan’. For some reason it’s fun for her and somewhat sets her expectations. We usually go out to eat for dinner. Let’s be honest, would you want to cook after the chaos I’ve endured? Shake Shack & sushi are our go-tos. During the nicer seasons, we make a pit stop at the park before heading home to shower/bathe and be in bed by 8:00 PM.
This has been my routine for the last year. I don’t know any different. Occasionally, I get the taste of what life would be like with a partner-in-crime thanks to my best friends. This week I have my best friend from California staying with me. Sofia has gone to school with her hair braided and I’ve been using my inside voice. And remember that 7:22 AM time? IT’S BEEN HAPPENING! This gives me a taste of what life is like if I had someone helping me. The above timeline only accounts for weekdays, I’ll save you the dets of the weekends for a rainy day. I don’t have someone helping me with doctor’s appointments, school applications & interviews, birthday parties, play dates, school functions, the list can go on. I don’t have my team splitting up the work and tackling objectives necessary to meet the deadline, I just don’t. I don’t have someone offering to help me. My mom deserves a gold star because she does help as much as I will allow her. But at the same time, she wasn’t part of the equation that resulted with Sofia. When I was 19, I did not think that someday I would be doing this on my own. I don’t think many people think they would be doing this on their own. I commend all you moms and maybe even dads out there who have been able to keep your sanity. Sofia tells me all the time that I am her hero and I am SURE your child feels the same. Know you’re doing an exceptional job and your child will value all the exceptional work you are doing and the example you are setting. Although it may be difficult for them to be cognizant of our efforts. They’ll recognize it in their 20s – when it matters.
I am mentally prepared for what’s to come. I have concluded I will be the phone call when a party is busted, shoulder to cry on over a broken heart, the prom preparer, college visitor, college funder, wedding funder, all the other ups and downs of life. I am more than okay with that, I am excited. A guy I once dated told me, “She will remember you for being present and attentive even when she doesn’t like what you have to say or do.” I hope each of you can reflect on your life – whether you’ve been raised by a single parent or are a single parent. Know that your parent gave 110% of their effort. Use the tools they gave you and make them proud. Know that you as a single parent are doing a great f***ing job and you have a little human to show for it. Attend the pre-school graduation by yourself and don’t even bat an eyelash at the other parent’s direction. Let them make excuses of why they couldn’t attend. It will catch up to them without your help. This group project will not be graded based on a team effort but by each individual’s contribution. That’s what gets me by and I hope it helps you, too.