Maybe I’m not as cut out for this whole thing as I imagined. Years ago I felt like a kind of warrior, fighting against past traumas alongside my kids. These days I am battling my own trauma and trying to make it through as best as I can.
It isn’t as if things are terribly bad or difficult right now. They’re not. At least, not in the way they used to be. Violent meltdowns where I’d get punched, kicked, bitten and shoved down the stairs are long since over. It’s more that traces of those memories hang in the air like so much extra gravity pressing me into the ground. Still, I trudge through each day wondering when this job will get easier.
Luke has been sick. Very, very sick. Some of the awful effects of kidney disease include problems with short term memory. I thought it would be nice having one parent home full time. It seemed like certain things would easy to hand off to the other person. It’s not this way at all.
Prescriptions for Carl’s asthma are never picked up. I’m afraid doctor’s appointments will be missed. Dinner is a bewildering mystery every single night until I get home to solve it all. How do single parents manage this?
Everyone needs something. Carl’s principal calls me throughout the workday to discuss Carl’s bus behavior. I finally got a new in-home clinician for Mary. She’s pretty good. Unfortunately, we also had to swap out the therapeutic mentor. Both clinicians are good but the service contract expires in March. I push to have the kidney transplant take place while Mary still can access these services. I am begging the transplant center to move more quickly.
Because of medication, Mary also needs monthly blood work. Because of kidney disease, so does Luke. Despite a highlighted calendar at home, Luke always forgets until the last day. Then the doctor calls me at work to make sure it all gets done.
My job frowns on personal calls during work hours. You think there’d be a break at lunchtime or during prep period but this is always eaten up with an endless string of mandatory meetings. I love my students but classroom teaching is not my thing. State testing and random new initiatives amount to more work for us and zero gain for students. My last faculty meeting had our principal lecturing us about not leaving the class in the hands of a teacher’s aide to use the bathroom. Apparently only a certified teacher can cover bathroom breaks and there isn’t an extra one so….no bathroom breaks. The abundantly pregnant teacher next to me left that meeting in tears.
After work I rush home to use the bathroom. Before I can do that I have to help Marcus with some math from his course that’s confusing him. Then Carl has to prove he’s begun doing school work since his video games have been taken away. He wants to argue this point every day as I dodge his words and flee to my bathroom. Mary gets home in a flurry of frenetic speech, desperate to hold my attention. Even after I escape to the bathroom I’ve got to bolt downstairs as quickly as possible to meet the clinician for family session while simultaneously shoving something in the oven for dinner.
If I am lucky I can throw in a load of laundry to wash before heading out to Carl’s basketball practice. Luke is usually nodding off on the couch. He’s just…existing. Maybe he’s somewhere else. I really want my husband back.
**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.