June 24th, 2008

I’m exhausted. My husband left for the US eleven days ago; I’ve been on my own with the boys since then and don’t expect him back until about noon on Saturday which suddenly seems like a long way off still. Beyond the physical exhaustion of parenting from just after six in the morning until eight at night – my three-and-a-half year old A is a non-napping early-riser – the emotional weight of being on call all the time is grinding me down. I’m tired of making all the decisions. I’m tired of being the sole disciplinarian. I’m tired of cooking dinner and distributing dinner and cleaning up dinner. I’m tired of giving baths and changing diapers. I’m tired of laundry. But most of all I’m tired of having to decide which child gets my attention and which one has to wait. I’m tired of saying not right now, in a minute, I’ll be right there, just as soon as I finish with your brother. I’m tired of always being the one letting somebody down, making somebody wait, listening to somebody cry. I’m tired of having to decide by myself how long to let C cry in his crib before I do or do not go rescue him. I’m tired of it being my fault that somebody is crying, that somebody is alone. I am tired of choosing between my sons.

It built up slowly, like being buried on the beach one grain of sand at a time. What’s one grain of sand, it weighs nothing, what’s one more grain of sand? But suddenly the weight of all those grains is compressing your chest and you can’t breathe and you can’t move and you’re buried, buried up to your neck and you don’t know how you got there and you can’t get out and all those grains of sand are so heavy. I’m up to my neck. I can’t stand another grain, I can’t stand another day of inadequately parenting my children.

How do single parents do this?

(If you’re wondering then how do I have the time to write this, it’s because my in-laws, bless their hearts, have taken A for a sleep-over and C is supposed to be falling asleep but there are an awful lot of tears involved and I’m trying to decide how long to let that go on and hoping that by the time I finish writing this the situation will have resolved itself.)