When Every Day Feels Like Failing
Brooke Dilling | @brookefrances
I’m a single mom of two boys, age 7 and 5. My sons are with me 90% of the time and I work a full time job. I also sit on a nonprofit board and write for the Broadview Denver. “I don’t know how you do it” is a phrase I hear all the time. All. The. Time.
And it makes me want to scream. Because here is the cold hard truth: I’m not doing it. I’m barely keeping myself together. Every day I make a choice:
Which part of my life can I afford to suck at today?
Is tonight a night the dishes are left in the sink so I can read to the kids at bedtime and cuddle them to sleep? Or do I skip my workout (again) so the kids get cuddled AND I can (mostly) clean the kitchen before bedtime? Or is today the day that I skip my much needed sleep so I can make the cookies I’ve been promising for weeks, do my workout, and mop the floor?
Is this the weekend the boys and I travel to the 9th circle of hell, also known as Costco, on a Saturday? Or do I shop and clean when the kids aren’t with me and skip out on having a social life and seeing my friends?
How many weeks can the dog really go before heading back to the groomer? Do we have enough underwear to make it until Friday or can we all go commando? Will anyone know?
My life is a series of carefully executed choices, all of which result in something not getting 100%--or sometimes even 2%--of my attention. I’m failing at something every damn day. Every day I’m not living up to my own standards in some (or several) areas of my life.
And heaven forbid something truly go off the rails because then I might be sucking at everything in my life all at once.
Like when a kid gets sick and needs multiple visits to the doctor (I mean, do I really need to show up at my job?).
Or when the sprinkler guy locks the back door to the garage. The one I never lock. Because I don’t have a key. And the garage door opener is in the car . . . which is at the auto shop on the other end of the city for hail damage repair. And the eggs and milk I need to make my kids the cookies I promised are in the fridge behind the locked garage door. Sigh. At least the wine isn’t behind the door.
This single mom thing? It’s hard. Really. Freaking. Hard. I’m guessing some of you are single moms (I #BroadSalute you!) or know a single mom or two.
My advice is this: don’t use the statement “I don’t know how you do it” unless you want to get throat punched. Instead, look your friend in the eye and ask: how are you? How are you doing it? And when she bursts into tears, offer a hug and wine or whiskey and let her cry for a minute before she pulls herself together and figures out how she tackles tomorrow.
And today? My neighbor helped me break into my garage with a crowbar. I was able to access the eggs and butter for cookie making. I didn’t get my workout in, but the kitchen sink is (mostly) clean.