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Party of One

Party of One

In my almost three years of being a single parent, I have experienced highs and low. I know there are great advantages to being the only grown-up in the house — the rules are mine alone and I get all the hugs. But there are the low points, too. Last week I experienced what I believe is one of the very worst aspects of being a mom flying solo.

Puke.

It’s gross, and it’s true. A late-night vomit fest is way too much for one person to handle. I am a full and clear testament to that. A week ago I woke up to E crying and ran into his room. I flicked on the light to view a scene that would have made Quentin Tarantino’s stomach lurch. My poor babe was sitting up in bed, covered in mess. I sprang into crisis mode (not the easiest thing to do at midnight) and immediately became the woman who can do it all. (Excuse me, would you mind handing me that red cape? Thanks so much.)

I ran to the bathroom for warm washcloths to clean my boy up. As I did this, I began a mommy monologue. “Oh, my baby. You’re going to be fine. It’s okay.” Over and over I repeated this until at least one of us started to feel better. When he was clean I set him up on my bed with a bowl next him. He was cool to the touch, exhausted, and fell asleep within minutes.

Now came the hard part. In my previous life as a married mother, the late-night throw-up extravaganza was a tag team affair. One of us attended to the child, and one of us did the clean-up. Now it was just all on me.

While E slept, I began a task that should have required a hazmat suit. Stripped the bed down to the mattress. Cleaned up the floor and the walls (told you it was gross). And rinsed everything off — myself included — in the bathtub. And then, finally, I was ready to go back to bed. So what did I do? Grabbed my pillow and a blanket and slept on the floor of his room. Why? Because I wanted to make sure E was okay. That’s what a mom does, right?

Except I didn’t sleep. My head started to race. “Why do I have to do this all alone?” “What happens if I puke in the middle of the night? Who’s going to take care of me?” And, of course, “Why does this child never, ever throw his guts up at his father’s house?”

It reminded me of when E, and then I, got hit by a stomach bug a couple of years ago. Luckily he was fine within 24 hours. Me, not so much. Friends took him while I skulked around my apartment in pajamas. The all-around crappy feeling went from my body into my mind. Not a good thing. The thoughts began to eat at me. “Who’s going to take care of me if I get bladder cancer? Or Alzheimer’s?” My pity party was pretty pitiful.

The December after my separation, when I was in the throes of depression and denial, I watched the Lifetime Movie of the Week, “Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy.” I thought that my problems would seem insignificant next to a young woman who had to have a breast removed, right? Wrong. What got me was that when she got wheeled into surgery, her husband went into a hospital stairwell and cried. I started sobbing as I thought “I have no one to cry for me if I have to have surgery.  Who else will miss my right boob?” That was a cheery moment. Then again, no one can ever say I don’t have a flair for the dramatic.

The next morning E woke up bright and early, feeling fine and hungry. I was a little worse for the wear — with plenty of laundry to do — but relieved that he was okay. And I felt better about my life too. It’s not easy to have to do everything by yourself but I’m learning. That’s not to say I won’t ever feel bad for myself again. We all have those days and we are more than entitled to them.

It’s okay to host your own pity party, but it’s also okay to send out invitations. I have a great support system; all I have to do is call my friends. They pick up the phone, comfort me with their words and let me know that everything will be fine. I may be a single mom but I am not alone in this venture. I learned a lesson.

We both did. I guarantee you that my child will never eat an entire box of Hot Tamales again in his lifetime.

Author: Stacey Linden

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