this is a post about balls

I’m not in an awesome head space.

I told my therapist that this entire experience (divorce grief?) feels like a marathon, and I guess I’ve settled into a quiet, down part of it. She told me I seemed sadder than I’ve been and for the first time since I started seeing her, I almost broke down completely. I couldn’t quite choke out the words, “I’m just so tired.” (Thank you for noticing, I meant, thank you, you’re right. I’m sad, and I feel like I’m not supposed to admit that, or that if I do it’ll just open the floodgates and I’ll lose my tenuous ability to keep carrying on.)

Yesterday I had my second appointment with the ABA therapist to try to get to a place where I can manage my bigger kid’s ultra-defiant, violent behavior. It is unbelievably hard (and a little humiliating) to step back and look at the way you parent. I know there have been outside circumstances affecting my availability and our routine, but I see all these corners I’ve cut and ways I haven’t been there for him, and I really feel like I’ve failed him when it comes to providing the structure and discipline he needs. She asked if we have a chore chart or reward chart and I said no, but I’ve been meaning to do that. For ten months.

She talks about getting to a place where we’re anticipating his problem behavior and preventing it, instead of constantly reacting. I get that, but I also want to scream, because it’s one more ball to juggle. It’s also the kind of not-warm-and-fuzzy parenting you don’t think about when you’re folding onesies and reading breastfeeding tips.

I have my kids all but four days/nights a month. I’m the sole provider. I work from home doing a job that I frequently have to defend to people who think I’m a professional mommy blogger (um, no) or that I just screw around on the Internet for funsies (I do, but I don’t get paid for that part). Even my four-year-old told me last weekend that I don’t actually have a real job.

I’m the sole housekeeper and the vast majority of the time I’m the sole parent.

The fact is, I’m always dropping a ball. Work through the early evening to hit a deadline? Neglecting the kids. Spend the morning trying to straighten up the house? Moving a deadline. Stop everything else and play with the kids? Neglecting work and house.

I know it’s not that black and white, and that I can always be better about managing my time, but I’m stretched so thin and no matter what I accomplish I feel like it’s at the expense of something else. So it doesn’t matter how “good” I am at one thing. I can never do enough, never do it well enough.

“And I’m not even a ball,” I told my therapist yesterday. My ball’s over in the corner gathering metaphors and impulsive makeup purchases for some nebulous upside to being single I thought there’d be when I was still in shock and looking for a brighter side than getting the whole bed to myself.

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Comments

  1. Honestly, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be in your shoes. I’ve only got *one* kid who’s only 6-months-old, and there are days (like yesterday) where I’m just over it, and then I remind myself that this is a piece of cake in the grand scheme of things.

    I hope you’re able to figure out the balance in your life that will make things a bit easier for you and let a little more happiness in. But, you’re still doing an amazing job, however thankless it might feel.

  2. Oh, man. You know, there is part of me that wants to rush in and remind you that everyone is always dropping their balls and that no one is juggling them all perfectly. But the other part of me does not want to underplay the extra difficulties you’re operating under–single parent, issues with eldest. I can only imagine how exhausted you are and how very tired. I admire you so much for keeping on right now. Life moves so fast and the balls are always moving and trying to get any kind of structure in the midst of it all is maddening. I know. I wish you had someone who could support you in helpful ways. Is there any way either of your parents (or both) could play a larger role in the lives of the children so that it’s not all on you? I can’t recall how close they are.

    • Maria Melee says:

      My mom is SUPER awesomely helpful with the kids (and with me). She takes littlest after he finishes school and often picks the big one up from the bus stop to take him home. That barely scratches the surface of how supportive she to me. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do any of this without that support.

  3. Oh, can I ever relate. It’s a constant juggle of those occasionally sweaty, often heavy, sometimes slippery and always abundant balls. And something always, always gets dropped. My house embarrasses me, my yard has Jurassic Park-sized weeds in it, my kids watch too much TV, my dinners are lackluster, my in-bin at the day job is enormous and my blog updates are hurried and blase’. And all the while there’s a little voice in my head reminding me that I’m all alone in this, and that’s not changing anytime soon. *sigh* And on I go, one step forward at a time, measured in inches some days. I just keep trying to remind myself that at least it’s forward.

  4. I just want to give you a hug.

    I want you to repeat after me. “I am a good mom. I am a great mom. I am doing the best I can.” Breath in and out, take one step forward every day, and as soon as you can, hire a cleaning service, even if it is once a month.

  5. Oof. Been there, felt that. I’ll bet that just writing this post made you feel a tiny bit better. Peace to you.

  6. Melissa says:

    I’m sorry you are going through this. My son had pretty intense “anger issues” after my divorce so I can somewhat relate. I can tell you that it got better as time went on. Therapy seemed to help with him as well. I know that probably isn’t helpful to you in the moment, but rest assured that you will get through this and it will get better. As far as balancing everything, that is a constant struggle for me. I feel I have gotten slightly better at it over the last four years, but I still feel like there is never enough…time, energy, MONEY, etc., etc., etc. I think the best thing to do is put one foot in front of the other, and slowly those steps will get easier.

  7. Maria. You? Are amazing. Your kids are fed, they are cared for, they are making it to and from, you are working full time and managing an entire household. So there may be piles of laundry or dried food stuck to the table? Anyone who is judging can eff off (not that I’m saying anyone is, but yanno?). Let them walk a day – an hour – in your shoes.

    Life is hard. It’s messy and it ain’t always perfect. But we do the best we can with what we have. We live.

    I don’t have the added stress of the horrible divorce grief, but I am solo-parenting for 21 of 30 days each month while working full time, and going to school part time. I have two daycare drop-offs and pick-ups each day, kids’ sports, and numerous client/work needs to be completed, as well as a house to maintain, bills to pay, etc., etc… I guess what I’m getting at is – there are balls that are dropped. There are always balls that are dropped. The true test is our perseverance – our ability to pick it up and move on.

    I think you are fabulous. I think you are a strong, amazing and wonderful woman. Give yourself some credit. You’ve been through a shit storm of a year and you’re still going. That’s something to be fuckin’ proud of.

    (Sorry for my novel of a comment. I just want you to know you’re not alone…)
    xoxoxo

  8. I can only imagine how hard this is for you. I do not know how you do it, only that it has to be done and so you do. I’m so sorry. I know that this will pass and it will take time. xoxo

  9. Oh, I hear you loud and clear! I am a single wahm too. I do social media for small biz, and also screw around on the internet for funsies quite a bit. But god, it’s so tiring. When I mention to people that I’m meeting a client, they say, “Oh, are you working now?” Uh, yes, I’ve been working. I’ve had married sahms tell me that I’m so lucky to have a man who pays all my bills. Ugh. Yes, I get child support. No. I’m not living in the lap of luxury. So tiring. I feel you.

  10. Tired… I know that feeling all to well! I’m tired of worry, waiting for the next seizure, the meetings with the school, the thoughts of could I be a better mom, sister, daughter, am I doing enough? It’s funny because we try so hard to look like we have it all together, but like you say when someone notices, really sees you, it’s almost like a relief and you can, just for that brief moment let ut all go! Then you pick yourself up off the floor go right back to holding it all in! Hang in there! You’re a good mom and you’re doing the best you can!

  11. Tired… I know that feeling all to well! I’m tired of worry, waiting for the next seizure, the meetings with the school, the thoughts of could I be a better mom, sister, daughter, wife, am I doing enough? It’s funny because we try so hard to look like we have it all together, but like you say when someone notices, really sees you, it’s almost like a relief and you can, just for that brief moment let it all go! Then you pick yourself up off the floor go right back to holding it all in! Hang in there! You’re a good mom and you’re doing the best you can! But most of all you are not alone! :)

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