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According to mom, Whichever way you slice it, no one has it easy during this unprecedented time in the world. No one is jumping around for joy. Everyone is bogged down with stress and anxiety, and we're all dealing with the changes the best we can. But I have to admit that as a single mom, this current health has pushed me to the limit. There are now limits I never thought I’d see before. There are people celebrating how excited they are to have their spouse home and their busy, independent teenagers. I get this.

But then there’s me: acting as head teacher, cook, cleaning lady, employee of the month, and mom of the year, 24/7 — with no way to tap out.

I know it could be worse

I could have multiple kids instead of just one to care for. I could have a child with special needs who doesn’t adapt well to home learning. I count my blessings. Unlike many of the people I serve at work (I work in the grocery business), I am working from home. And I see the inside of it all, and I feel deep gratitude. But I’m scared. I’m lonely. I struggle.

I had managed to accept that my kid’s father was really not going to be a dad a while ago, but sometimes it makes me angry now. While the other person gets “off,” I get to do the work of both of us. I get to accept my child’s care from schooling to the basics, while the other person does nothing.

Before this, I could hire a sitter to come, so I could be alone for an hour or two

I could recharge my batteries a little, and try to be better the next day. Even if it wasn’t a real break, it was something and it helped. Now, all I can do is lock myself in my room, count to 10, and hope that the next day, hour, or moment is better. I can’t hand off my kid to someone else and say, “Here, you teach her about metaphors and similes. You teach her about volume.”

I can’t send her to someone else to answer the hard questions like, “Will I see my friends again? Will there be summer camp?” When I started realizing I couldn’t just go to the grocery store without contempt from strangers judging me for bringing my kid, I wondered how the wrong I was going to sustain us during the virus? I just spent a conference call listening to people say how we needed signs telling customers to shop alone — just one person at a time. But I can’t leave my kid at home alone. Delivery is expensive, and pickup slots are hard to come by.

Instead, I have to dig deep and ask for help

Ask others. It's humbling. Thankfully, a few amazing people in my town have helped me — knowing my situation, knowing there is no one else to help me. Phone calls and Zoom help, but it’s not the same as someone there for you, in person. It’s not the same as a hug. It’s not the same as two other arms to help with your kid.

Instead, it’s me, myself, and I, wondering if this is it. If this is what my life is going to be. I want to say that I’ve been Polly Positive every day, but I haven’t. I’ve been a mix of just fine, this absolutely sucks, and we’ll get through this. Some days, I cry, and since there is no one else to take over, my daughter sees me cry and asks what’s wrong and why I cried so much this week.

All I can do is be honest

I tell her it is hard for mommy, too. Tell her I am having a bad day. That Superwoman left her cape and tiara somewhere, and in her place is just one woman trying to do a good job raising her daughter and finding happiness during this crazy, screwed-up time. I’m a good mom — or I try to be. I try hard. I always told myself I would only try to be one parent, one person: mom. But now I’m against my own tough standards. The feeling that this could go on for a long, long time has me feeling like this is it. This is it. The end. Me. Alone.

A helpless hollow feeling that the next day just doesn’t always fix

When I left my office to work from home, I panicked for a long time that I would eventually come down with the virus. If I were to get sick, what would happen to my daughter? Sure, relatives down the line say they could care for her, but most of my relatives are high-risk people. So, what happens then? Who steps in? Who takes over? I’m tired of the same old line: You’re strong. You’ve got this! Well, maybe I don’t “got this.” Maybe I am not strong today.

Sometimes, I feel trapped in my own reality. When my daughter talks to me about Roblox for the 50th time and I can’t fathom hearing the words anymore, I try to buck up. She, too, is isolated from her peers. But it feels intensely difficult to summon the energy to listen. When I attempt to help my kid as she does her schoolwork and refuses any of my suggestions or thoughts, I sit back and try to suck it up. I turn off my inner Hulk Hogan and I cool off for a while. Because, most days, even when I just want to be alone on an island with a book and a cocktail, I get the job done.

I homeschool. I do my work for my job. I feed my daughter. I try to comfort her and play with her. I get her outside. I teach her to ride her bike. I introduce her to old classic movies, like Back to the Future and The Karate Kid. There is no day off and I will never “clock off.” While, sometimes, I really think I suck at all this social distancing parenting, other days I know that I'm doing my damn best and one day, she will remember everything I have done for her. It may come two years from now or 20, but all is not lost. And this is not forever. Even if it feels like it is. One day, this will be a blurry nightmare of Netflix, disinfecting wipes, face masks, and Zoom calls, but I will survive — and, just maybe, I won’t be alone.

This article was originally published on the on 23rd April 2020

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