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It was one of those mornings
…when the snooze button got hit a little too much and when I finally woke, the kitten was dragging a piece of chicken breast out of the garbage and onto my bed. To make matters worse, it was a hot June Monday in New York City and the air conditioner decided to change careers and become a Zen master and keep quiet.
Eight a.m. and my son was still asleep, but the kitten was wide awake, and the chicken was doing a free range thingy all over my bed. I rushed out of bed and climbed onto the top bunk bed. (Why, I asked myself, was this a necessary purchase? I only have one kid.) I called out the little cherub’s name — no reply — and then called out again with one hand patting him, the other arm hanging out for balance.
I got down and ran to the bathroom and remembered while brushing my teeth that today was the class trip to Central Park. That means a bag lunch. Great, I have nothing in the fridge, and he needs a lunch that the other kids won’t tease him about. (A word of warning: Never pack sardines for your child or years of therapy await.) I yell from the toilet, “Taylor, get up now; you have a school trip and it is 8:15. I have to get showered and dressed and get lunch from the deli.” Still no response. I shower, I feed the cat, I step on chicken, my son creeps out of his bunk and fumbles his way to the bathroom.
I am now applying makeup in the hot, humid bathroom, while my son pees on the toilet — that’s on the toilet, not in. He tells me, “Mom, why didn’t you wake me earlier? I have to find three of my favorite basketball cards that I’m trading for 40 semi-good cards.”
I say, “How did you arrive at that trade? That doesn’t seem fair.” He flushes. “I didn’t say it was fair; it’s just a trade.”
I tell him to get dressed; he complains that his underwear is too tight, so he changes; now it is too loose, he changes; then his shirt is too small, he changes; then his shirt is like a dress, he changes. I tell him he has three seconds to get ready or he is going naked to his class trip, and no one will pay attention to the park, just to his butt. He tells me I am a mean mother. I agree.
There is a knock at my door. I pretend not to hear it. I am late. Knock again. I tuck my shirt into my skirt and pick up the kitten. A man in a green uniform says he’s the maintenance man, although I’m not actually listening because the cat’s claws are digging into the Wonderbra I am wearing for the date I have after work. The man is saying something about asbestos, fire, keys, etc. I tell my son to get his book bag and brush his teeth (8:27 a.m.) and he replies, “Why do I need to brush my teeth with my book bag?”
The man at the door says he needs to do some work in my walk-in closet because the garbage room could light on fire. I can’t comprehend this. My son is yelling in the back that the toothpaste is too hot. I tell him to just rinse his mouth. I glance at the man’s name tag, the red-scribbled script with the imprinted name “Pedro,” and say, “Listen, Pedro, this is news to me. I am late for work and my son has a trip. Please come back this evening or, better yet, this weekend.”
He looks at me as if I were speaking Vulcan. “Misses, we have to come in now because of the policy and because of the fire problem.”
I’m confused. “Is there a fire now?” I ask. The elevator opens and out walks three more supers. They identify themselves and I say, “Hey guys, pretend I wasn’t home.”
My son is tugging at my skirt now. “Mom, Ma, Mother, Mom, Mommy.” I don’t answer. The men are all mumbling something about how urgent it is, how they have to do it now, or they’ll have to call the police.
“What?” Then my son informs me that the toilet has overflowed and his No. 2 (although he calls it “dudy”) is on the green towels. I tell the men at my door that this is really a bad time and that they need to leave and if they need to call the police, so be it (8:35 a.m.).
I get down on my knees, pick up the No. 2 and gag while putting it into a Hefty bag. The kitten steps into the puddle that has formed on the bottom of the bathroom floor, seeping into the living room. I am now sweating; the silk blouse is wet. I throw more of the good green towels down on the floor, and we rush to the deli. “Mom, why are the police coming?”
“I don’t know, but Mommy will be OK.” “Mom, please get me a turkey sandwich with chopped lettuce, not ripped or sliced, and with no tomatoes on a little hard bread.” I think to myself, is he out of his &^%$&* mind? I order a turkey sandwich with lettuce and mustard on Italian bread.
“Deal with it,” I scold him. “You are such a mean mother. Can I have chips at least?”
We leave and he goes to school, late with a long shirt on and baggy underwear. I, on the other hand, remember that I am now a wanted criminal for reasons unknown to me, so I decide to make the day a complete disaster by stopping into my management office to find out why I am being harassed by the men in green. They explain that some letter went out, which I never received, and start stressing the importance of having my bedroom wall torn down and the pipes covered. Then the wall would go back up and get repainted. They say there’s some sort of new commissioner, and the apartment complexes are a real fire hazard. Not that I’m a pyromaniac or something, but I say, “Not today. This fire replacement thingy needs to start some other time.”
They insist that since I am home and I answered the door, the project needs to commence at once. I call work and say I won’t be in today. Should I continue? The nurse calls from school and tells me that my son has ringworm, could I pick him up? (The ringworm is from the kitten.) The wall is coming down in his bedroom, so he sleeps with me, only to give me ringworm. It is only 11:46 a.m. and I have not yet answered my voice mail from work. I realize now that
I can’t continue because it is too painful to recall. But one last note: The police never found me; the wall is back up; I am still washing ringworm off the cat; my toilet was never the same; and we made it through the whole summer without air conditioning. My son learned to enjoy turkey sandwiches with plain lettuce. I never answer my doorbell, even when I am expecting company (just a quirk of mine). And I am in a 12-step program for “snooze-button addiction.”
And you thought you had it bad?
I met a man, 7 years ago now, (on a trip investigating job possibilities) with whom I had a good rapport. I wasn’t madly in love with him, but being in my early 30s, and receiving statements from him about how badly he wanted children, I decided it would be the “right thing” to do.
So I moved 2500 miles to be with him, and advance my career. I never really dreamed of having children, but being with my new companion made me think that it would be OK. I rationalized that, having children by a man who talked about having a family so much might give my offspring a good, solid, caring family. When I got pregnant, it was joyous. We prepared like 2 birds setting up their nest. I was really happy.
When I gave birth to our son and brought him home, the little guy never slept. I became totally exhausted and existed in a fog. This continued for several months, despite good pediatric care and what I considered to be caring, doting parents. Then, 4 months after the birth of my son, I found I was again pregnant. Our birth control had failed. My husband had become exhausted too & when I told him about the news, he got mad.
Life went on, me working full time as usual, and caring for our son. My husband began to complain about how he had no time for himself. How hectic life had become; how his “domain” was now gone. Me being pregnant, with a baby on my hip, I must admit, didn’t soften me. I was both surprised and angry as well. But not at my situation; at my husband. I realized then how his expectations of “family” were fairy tale oriented. I wasn’t very supportive of his feelings.
Then, our daughter was born. By then, my hubby had had it. Our little girl didn’t sleep well either. By 6 mos. of age, we tried letting her cry herself to sleep, as recommended. That resulted in more than a week of 9 to 10 hours of her screaming, while I sat up crying for her! My husband said to let her cry. Let it go… Well, that’s just what he did. He left soon after. So, today, here I am, with 2 children who are my life (and thankfully a good job that supports us), never thinking I’d even have children. Life is strange that way. But I see them as a gift. I’m often tired, but I’m also thankful. Since then, X has moved away, remarried, gotten “fixed” so he can no longer help conceive, and has paid almost no child support. I got what I least expected (happily), and so did he!
My son’s father and I were high-school sweethearts …
I am a twenty-two year old single mom of a terrific two year old. Have I got a story for you. My son’s father and I were high-school sweethearts, voted class couple in fact. We went off to college together and in December of my sophomore year I realized I had a “surprise” on the way. I thought, “okay, I can handle this.”
I was overestimating myself a bit. I went back to school for the spring semester and I threw up every five minutes. I had not told my father or my step-monster about the pregnancy yet, and I was living in an apartment that smelled like the sewer treatment plant down the street. Needless to say, my sweetheart was occupied with playing football and drinking, so he was very supportive. He politely asked me if I wouldn’t mind throwing up before I came to visit him. I went home for the summer and I thought things would be better.
One week before I delivered, Sweetiepie went away to football camp. I of course went into to labor while he was away. He made it back in time and I delivered my precious boy into the world. During baby’s first checkup he screamed like a banshee. The new Daddy-0 slept right through it. The doctor asked me if he would ever wake up. I said he was just really tired from the long drive home. Never mind I had just been in labor for twelve hours!
We went home, and two days later, the new daddy went back to college. I on the otherhand stayed home with a screaming infant who I can’t remember ever sleeping. Friday, September 13 began the darkest period of my life. I slipped into a terrible depression. I thought it was because I missed my sweetheart. So the next morning I left for New York. Things got horribly worse. I thought I would hurt the baby. I kept having horrible thoughts like what would happen if I smothered the baby while breastfeeding or if I threw him off the balcony? I could not believe that I was capable of thinking such thoughts! I could not eat, I could not sleep, I could not manage any meditation. I had to keep the television on constantly to keep my mind occupied. It took all my energy just to take care of my baby. I was too ashamed to tell anyone what I was thinking. I thought I was a monster. I finally decided that if I killed myself then there was no chance I could hurt the baby.
I went to the hospital, the social worker hugged me and told me that I was not crazy and that I would not hurt my baby. I cried and cried. My father wanted my sweetiepie to bring me home so that I could go to a local hospital. Sweetheart asked if it could wait until Tuesday, (this being Sunday ). My father threatened him with bodily harm. I returned home that night with my baby and sweetiepie dropped us off and went back to school, with my car
It has been two years since all that occurred. I am okay. I am a single parent. I went back to college and I am still going part time. I will graduate in May of 2000. I take care of my son. He seems happy. I think I am doing a pretty good job. Even though the kind of postpartum depression that I had is very rare, I hope other women understand that it is very treatable. I’m happier than I ever was before. I think some of that might have to do with my terrific two year old.