Single Working Mothers: The Truth

Posted on | January 30, 2013 | 15 Comments

Even now, almost two full years out from the horrible that is divorce, there are moments when the weight of my reality becomes too much to bear.  There are moments when I stand at the perimeter of my life and wonder how in the hell I’m doing any of the things I’m doing, much less all of them. I wonder what’s been screwed up today, which ball has been dropped, which deadline missed… and I hope it’s not J… because everything else is just icing, no matter what anyone else says.

Today, I find myself sitting at my desk in my corner office, in my nice black dress, surrounded by box after box of clients who desperately need my full attention.  I find myself sitting here,  hair pulled down snug against my cheeks, wiping away tears that just won’t stop falling.  I’m overwhelmed.  I’m overworked.  I’m so far overextended that I can’t even remember the last time I didn’t feel like I was about to snap at someone… anyone… everyone.  My hair hides my face but not the quiver of my chin, not the drops of tears that pool just below the space bar as I try, desperately, to finish a brief that must be finished.

There’s always a deadline, right?

Lately the deadline seems to be creeping closer only I don’t know what it is or how to ensure that I meet the requirements, dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” that will keep me bound together in the silk suit of my life.  Don’t look too closely, I want to whisper, to the people around me… to my co-workers, to my friends… to those who commend me with obligatory pats on the back and “Wow, you’re so strong” and other things people say when they don’t know what to say. Don’t examine the seams, please, because they’re so close to breaking, I’m so close to breaking.

And then I think that maybe, just maybe, it’s only me… it’s only that I can’t handle the pressures, the stresses, the overarching heaviness of being alone… with a child… and a career that demands oh-so-much more than I can give.

There are just times, like today, when it’s all too much, when it’s all too easy to throw in the towel on something… anything… maybe everything. Only you can’t, because the only person around to pick it all up when you’re through with your tantrum…

Is you.

You work a long day for clients who don’t appreciate what you do and at the end of that day, all you want to do is wrap your arms around your son and have five minutes of peace where you remember what and who you’re doing all of this for. Only the moments never come because your child doesn’t want to be held, doesn’t want what you fixed for dinner, and can’t remember how to use the bathroom in the toilet without you standing there, watching.  So you wipe noses, re-heat dinner, count to three entirely too many times while all the while,  the tidal wave builds up again until you silence it, temporarily, with a quest for sleep, the only way you can even hope to find a moment of peace.

Being a single working mother isn’t glamorous.  It isn’t strong or hopeful or empowering.  It isn’t anything other than a constant struggle to stay one breath ahead of the tidal wave that’s always and only one faltering step away from sweeping you under.

And today? Today it has swept me under.


15 Responses to “Single Working Mothers: The Truth”

  1. Sharon
    January 30th, 2013 @ 11:53 am

    I’m sorry you are feeling overwhelmed. I am working (lawyer) married mother of year-old twins, and I have similar feelings many days. 🙁

  2. Law Momma
    January 30th, 2013 @ 11:58 am

    Yeah… I don’t think for one minute that single moms have the market on overwhelmed. Hang in there!

  3. Babe_Chilla
    January 30th, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

    Hugs my lady. Listen, I have a pretty flexible job with demands that I can shift and a husband, and I feel that way most of the time. I can’t imagine having to do it alone so much, or being in a demanding job where you have to dress nice and put on your happy face and fight other people’s battles. I simply cannot.

    I know it doesn’t help. We all have those days when everything is too much. Three year olds are maniacs and while you don’t want them to just GO AWAY sometimes you wish they could understand. You don’t want your child to be your emotional crutch but there are times they are because they are there, loving you and not judging. Then there are times you yell at them for being them, as annoying as that can be at that moment, and then you feel awful. It’s a twisted combination set up to make you feel like you failed.

    It’s hard to take it all, load it up on your shoulders and expect to carry it around. You couldn’t sustain carrying a ton of bricks for 2 years physically, so you really can’t expect to emotionally. Of course you’re sad, of course it’s hard, of course you feel defeated. Parenthood is hard, being alone in that, I don’t even know how hard that must be. And work and life and everything else. It’s so very much.

    Be gentle on yourself. you are doing your best, that’s all that you can do. One day, I hope you can find a career path that offers you all that you need and a little less of what you don’t. Until then, know that J loves you and that you’re doing it all, the best way you know how.

  4. Law Momma
    January 30th, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

    I *might* have cried when I read this. Thanks, friend… your words mean so very much.

  5. Cat Poland
    January 30th, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

    This was a beautiful post. One that I could relate to in many ways. I was swept under by that tidal wave, and left work to stay home with my two girls. And it’s hard, so hard. But I remind myself it’s a luxury, really. Even though we’re barely hanging on financially, it’s a luxury. I don’t take it for granted, because I know moms like you would love to be in my shoes some days, but absolutely can’t. ((Hugs)) to you.

  6. Law Momma
    January 30th, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

    Hugs right back to you. We’re all doing the best we can for ourselves and our kids. And that’s all we CAN do.

  7. Gods Girl
    January 30th, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

    Wow Law Momma! I have been there more times than I can count and I’m certain I couldn’t have expressed it in writing as awesome as you just did. As a single mom, I personally can’t hear enough “You’re doing an excellent job. You are a good mom. This will pass. It gets easier.” Keep up the good work, don’t forget to breathe… You aren’t alone. Many of us are curled up on our beds in the fetal position wondering how the hell any of this can get better… But somehow, it will… I think.. until then, WE BLOG!

  8. Law Momma
    January 30th, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

    Exactly. We just pour it all out the best we can and hope that what we’re feeling isn’t THAT strange.

  9. Laura
    January 30th, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

    Hang in there. I’m willing to bet that everyone (okay…almost everyone) around you sees what you are juggling, and admires you for it. Don’t be quite so hard on yourself if you can help it. No one else is. And J appreciates you too and will be able to tell you – someday – just how much… Hugs to you!

  10. Law Momma
    January 30th, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

    Thanks so much. I feel better after a run… sometimes it just gets TOO MUCH! haha

  11. Melissa
    January 30th, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

    Married lawyer of a 3 year old and expecting in June. I feel like you all the time. I’m sure doing it alone makes it even harder. Just know you’re not alone. We’re either going to get through it or have breakdowns. If its the latter, hopefully it will be so bad that we’re blissfully unaware of what’s happening. I always say at east we’re not doctors. Their mistakes cost lives, ours only cost dollars.

  12. Law Momma
    January 30th, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

    I OFTEN thank God I’m not a doctor. Talk about pressure.

  13. Lola M.
    January 31st, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    Sometimes I think having a breakdown is kind of like powerwashing your insides. So much muck and stress gets built up that it needs to get washed out. When the storm has passed and the wave has dissipated you have room to move on. Breakdowns are good and you are so strong in having the courage to share that with others.

  14. Laura
    January 31st, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

    Hits the bullseye of my life, today and recurringly more frequently as I bumble through attempting not to permanently scar my two young sons… thank you for letting me know I’m not alone.

  15. Heather
    January 31st, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

    I have followed your blog for a while and now find myself in the same situation as you after 15 years of marriage. All I can offer is a hug, because I understand the pain and wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Hugs for a better day tomorrow.

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