My first official week as a single parent, the stomach flu came to visit. It hit K first, and gave me the opportunity to learn useful new skills like how to get chocolate milk-based vomit out of light colored carpet, and how to breathe through the urge to lose it yourself when someone throws up in your face.
Then, once K was relatively puke-free, I got it.
It was a trial-by-fire introduction to single parenting – it didn’t matter that I just wanted to hibernate somewhere warm and in close proximity to a bathroom until the storm passed, because Things Needed To Get Done. Capital letters. No way around it. Diapers needed to be changed. The litter boxes needed to be cleaned. The trash needed to be taken out, and dinner needed to be cooked. (Not necessarily in that order.) Even if I didn’t want to eat, I couldn’t keep the baby on the saltines & ginger ale diet with me, and – oh, there was my job, too! I was able to take all the sick days I wanted, but . . . I wouldn’t get paid for them, and the projects with deadlines still had deadlines. And I had bills to pay.
K survived, I survived, even the cats survived, but it was a bit terrifying in that WELCOME TO THE REST OF YOUR LIFE kind of way. There’s no one to bring you soup when you’re a single parent. It’s all on you.
I learned to deal with it. I learned to lean on friends when possible. I learned how to balance a baby on my boob and a macbook on my lap, because K had to be fed and work had to be done, often at the same time. At the end of most days, (almost) everything that needed to be done had been done, but the stress level was – well, if I’d had health insurance, I probably would have seen about getting some sweet chemical relief through anti-anxiety or blood pressure meds. Maybe both. It wasn’t fun, but it was better than the alternative.
And then came Bob.
One day last week, I had a gurgling in my stomach. I had a long to-do list for work. The house was a mess. K’s cough, which I thought we’d finally gotten rid of, threatened to come back. I barely had enough time to brush my teeth, let alone fit a visit/welfare check on my (very) elderly grandmother in between working and K’s various activities and -- I had déjà vu.
It wasn’t until I was already in full on panic mode that I remembered, now I have a partner. I may be the only adult in my house most of the time (Project Cohabitation is in the final prep stages – there’s a closing scheduled next week on a house that’s actually suitable for a family), but I’m not a single parent like I was before. I have backup. I have someone to talk to. I have someone to bring me soup, and that makes all the difference in the world.