with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
Fanny Girl wakes me up with an urgent woof, which triggers my own cough: UH-HEEEHHHHHH-wheeeeze. I lurch upright and glance at the clock: 11:34. Crap. I bumble down the stairs like a drunk and let Fanny outside to go, which she does, instantly. Not a stellar start to the day. Sorry, girl, I say. This cold, which has come out of nowhere, is kicking my arse.
As I make coffee and review my mental list of things I must get done in between wheezing attacks, I notice again the quiet of the house. It is one of Those Weeks, the childless weeks. The fact that the cold has coincided with this week is, at least, a kind of blessing. Apart from the animals, there’s just one soul who needs attending to: me. It’s manageable. If I need to take a nap, I can. If I’m not hungry, I don’t need to make dinner. If I want to watch bad TV with my box of Kleenex and a fleece blankie, I will.
First, though, I must attend some to The List, the list that has no beginning and no end. I believe the list is proof of eternity and should be housed in a temple or the Smithsonian, really. It expands to fill infinity, all on its own, punctuating time and space with its bullet points: Remove air conditioners. Schedule dentist appointment. Reschedule physical. Pay lawn guy. Figure out how to pay for oil. Network. Network. Network. Email the friend of a friend who knows a guy at that magazine. Start that new play, the one that is destined for Lincoln Center and screenplay adaptations. Find money to get those sad roots attended to. Schedule a first mammogram. Go swimming at the Y. At the very least, free those sneakers from the locker with the number you can’t remember. Take the tortie cat to the vet, without being clawed to ribbons. Write to that teacher of S’s, about that thing. Respond to those emails. Find boxes. Fill boxes for that charity. Call charity to come get the boxes, so you can see the kitchen floor again. Scrub the kitchen floor, cursing all the while, once you can see it again, because it is crumbling linoleum and thus impossible to get clean. And so on. And so on. And so on.
After coffee and a few pneumatic blowouts, I manage to get one air conditioner out of its window. I put it on the floor in the hallway and then remember I haven’t yet carved out a spot in the closet to house it for the winter. I sigh and feel fever sweat on my forehead, down my back. In that instant, I want to hug the girls, I want to curl on the couch with them and watch a Disney movie, I want to play Apples to Apples. I fiercely tug my recalcitrant mind back to the present circumstances: no one’s home, I am on my own, I must be my own comfort today. There is strength is learning how to be my own comfort, time and time again, I know, I know. But I can’t say I’ll ever get used to Those Weeks, the weeks without the girls, the weeks when their lives unfold without me. This week? School pictures. I won’t know what they wore on school picture day until I see the pictures, a fact that strikes me as odd, and a little eerie. The pictures will surprise me, I know, as if they are two smiling, distant nieces, and not my daughters, my heart: My, how lovely, look how they’ve grown.
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