Monday, December 17, 2007

The real truth about being a single mom.

I realize that, in some ways, this post title is horribly offensive since, although I am living here alone with my kid for several months, I am not a single mom. Further, the topic I'm going to address is not the first thing that comes to mind for the single moms I know (childcare is generally the first thing, simultaneously with or followed closely by money, sanity, and sleep).

But what I wanted to talk about today is what I've learned about being a full-time employee and a full-time, sole parent. When I started out a few months ago, I wondered what would be different, other than less sleep. One of the main things that I found was that, after the initial period of abject panic, I learned to live with the constant threat of - and experience of - chaos. There is a physical sensation that comes with this. It's a sort of inner tightening, as if all of my organs are tensed, ready to react with lightening-quick efficiency should I suddenly have to sprint the several miles from work to my son's school. For the first couple of weeks, I would have daily freak-outs that lasted fractions of a second, during which I would forget what day it was and not know where Bean was at that moment. By the time my body knew to start feeling sick, I would have remembered and everything would be fine.

It was these brief moments of panic that I noticed most, initially. And then, as I got into the routine and got used to the fact that Bean might get sick or the sitter might cancel or anything could happen and my meetings/classes/etc. would have to accomodate his needs, I began not to have the panic attacks. I became able to function with the uncertainty and the chaos. I was much more tightly-wound, but functioning.

And then, over the last several weeks, I've started to notice another pattern. When you are working all the time at one job or another, something has to give. Usually, the first thing is sleep. Exercise goes. Eating well goes. I've been there before, and while it was disappointing to see my muscle tone disappear, it wasn't a new experience.

But lately, I've lost something else, something no one ever told me about and something I never expected.

I've lost the time to go to the bathroom.

I'm not sure how this happened. I will probably end up with kidney failure soon, but essentially what happens is, whether I'm sitting at my desk, driving to pick up Bean, or running errands, I do not have time to go - and so I don't. I have on several recent occasions noticed at around 3:30 that I had to pee when I arrived at my office that morning but still haven't gone. Or, I'll need to pee when I leave, hop in the car, pick up Bean, stop to go grocery shopping, pick up and eat dinner at the store, drive home, get him ready for bed, and notice, oh yeah, I still haven't peed.

I don't think I've made any big changes to my diet. I just think that, as one becomes accustomed to functioning - and functioning well on little sleep - when pressed, one can also go without other essential bodily functions.

Maybe this is one for Morgan Spurlock?


Green said...

If you've said it, I've missed it - I don't know how old your Bean is. My friend's daughter has spent a lot of time at my house since she was 1.5; she's now almost 5. Granted, when she's over I am not really trying to run around and Do Life, and I am mostly focused on her. However, if I have to go to the bathroom, I just see that she's somewhat occupied with something, and go. I leave the door opened a crack so I can hear her, and peak out to look before I wash my hands. If we're out and about the city, I just haul her into a bathroom with me.

Please, as someone who's had lots of UTI's and whose mother was in the hospital for a UTI turned kidney infection turned bloodstream infection, please take the time to go pee. Okay, at the very VERY least, please drink cranberry juice.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Green - six in a few weeks - we're getting to the age where we need to go to public restrooms separately, when possible. But I will try to pee more frequently!

Radical Reminders said...

Hi there :)
Even though i just have a puppy and not a child, i can feel your pain. Since he is still a puppy (ironically his name is Beans!) he requires LOTS of attention, so much that i haven't been to the gym, had time to paint, even changed my work schedule since i got him...
i am sure kids are even tougher!
Good luck and love the blog :)

Plain(s)feminist said...

Puppies, kittens, and human babies - babies, all. I've sworn never again, to any of them. Toddlers for me, please.

Well, I may give in when Bean gets older if he wants a puppy or kitten. MAYBE.