Myriad situations arise in which it sucks to be a single mom. It's just as likely to be a good time as a bad time that sets me to moping, complaining to the universe, that dammit, this is NOT the gig I signed up for.
Early this evening, for instance, Eliot wanted to eat supper outside, so I figured, sure, why not? We sat together on the deck overlooking the new spring green of our two acres of yard. We sat in deck chairs, plates in our lap, munching sandwiches. The breeze ruffled Eliot's hair as the shadows began to lengthen, and all was right with the world. Except...I desperately wanted someone to share that moment with. Another adult with whom I could share a knowing glance over Eliot's head, a moment of recognition, that yeah, sometimes this whole parenting thing is awesome. Sometimes this whole life thing is awesome. But it was just me. Me, my son, and a wide open space...
And then the wind picked up and blew Eliot's red plastic picnic plate out of his lap, lifted it and the pieces of his sandwich up over the railing of the deck and into the yard. I tried to hold back the laughter at the ridiculousness of it all as his sweet face crumpled and reddened and the tears quickly welled in those wide little boy eyes, and he began to wail, "My sandwich! My sandwich!"
"This!" I thought. This is more like my real life. This is the two of us blundering about.
At other times, I wish...well, not that my ex were still here, but that SOMEONE were, someone ELSE, other than me, who could be relied upon to scoop the dead voles off my sidewalk and out of my garage, the furry little masses that our cat insists upon presenting as love offerings.
"What is THAT?!" Eliot points, indicating yet another rodent carcass.
"Ugh," I groan, "Don't get any closer, and DO NOT TOUCH IT."
"Because it has dead mouse germs."
"Dead mouse germs?"
"Yes. DON'T TOUCH IT."
"Okay, okay, okay," he complains, as he squats down close to inspect the disheveled body.
I grab a shovel and gingerly scrap the thing up off the garage floor. It feels much too squishy for my comfort. I carry the little body down the driveway toward the ditch on the other side of the road.
Eliot yells, from back in the garage, "Throw it hard, Mom! Throw that mouse like Hee-YaW!" accompanied with full body gestures indicating how I should wing the little mass at the end of my shovel as hard as I can so that my almost-three-year-old can have the morbid satisfaction of watching it go flying head over tail into the woods.
Ugh. This, as well as the endless loads of laundry and dishes, is my job now.
As we go inside, Eliot remarks, "I LIKE mouse germs. When I get big, I'm gonna get the mouse germs."
I assure him that when he gets big, he's entitled to all the mouse germs his heart desires. I'll be happy to hand the chore of carcass disposal over to Eliot. You know, when he gets big.
Later in the evening, after surviving the trauma of the flying sandwich plate and the carcass removal, I decide to open a bottle of wine to go with my dinner. I'm struggling with the corkscrew, yanking as hard as my feeble upper body will allow, when Eliot suggests, "Mom. I think you're gonna need a bowl. That might spill."
He grabs a Tupperware out of the cabinet and places it on the floor at my feet. I find this "help" incredibly endearing. I swear I will open this fucking bottle if it kills me. I do not need anyone to open this bottle for me. I can scoop a vole carcass, by god, and I can uncork a bottle of wine. Didn't I just pry the lid off a stubborn bottle of laundry detergent last week using a belt as a tool? Yeah, that's right. I thought so.
So I work and work on the bottle, Eliot looking on all the while.
As the cork finally pops, and I grin in sweet triumph, my son looks up at me with wonder and says, "Wow, Mommy. You're SO strong!"
"Kiddo..." I want to say (but don't), "...you don't even know the half of it!" ;)
This ISN'T the gig I signed up for. But you know, it's a pretty sweet one anyway. I think I'll take it. Because I AM strong.
I've got a sleeping boy with a belly full of freshly fixed sandwich, a garage free of dead voles, and a half-drunk bottle of wine sitting here by my side to prove it.