I’m still Here

Posted on | May 17, 2011 | 16 Comments

Know how it’s become sort of a ritual at the end of the Superbowl for the winners to say they’re going to Disney World?  That should NOT be what people say when they are in the midst of divorce proceedings.

There are several reasons why Disney is not the most magical place on earth when it comes to the newly single and I won’t bore you with all of them.  Suffice to say, seeing truckloads of happy families parading around you while you are sweating like a whore in church in last year’s pants that are WAY too tight this year due to a full year of pre-divorce stress eating, pushing your 30 some odd pound child in a stroller and juggling seventy-three kajillion different bags and items is totally NOT magical.  I felt like Cinderella’s under-appreciated and not nearly as attractive real sister who got left behind to tend to the crazy side of the family while pretty Cindy waltzed away with the Prince.

By the end of the first day, I wanted to bawl my eyes out.  Of course it didn’t help that the lady who checked me and my less than two-year-old son into the hotel failed to mention that she was placing us in a handicapped guestroom… which, you know, has no freaking bathtub.  So there’s a giant shower stall with no raise to keep in the water.  Have I mentioned that J is, for whatever reason, terrified of showers? And when I showered, the water flooded out across the bathroom floor b/c there was no way to keep it “in.”  This meant every time J came into the bathroom he fell down.  I’m pretty sure he’s scared of bathrooms in general now.  But whatever. Back to my point.

Being a single mother is just unimaginably hard.  I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s making everything I used to do nearly impossible and forcing me to find new and “imaginative” ways to do what used to seem like the simplest of tasks. (read: going to get bottles that you awesomely forgot to pack.)

The only thing I had time to do on this trip (besides go repeatedly to the nearest bathroom at lightening speed) was to figure out where J was/wanted to/needed to be at every stinking second.  There was no one else to say “Please do…” or to step up and say “Let me…” Of course, my parents were there, and they wanted to help… but it’s not the same.  Any punishing, corralling, night-night enforcement, or remotely difficult and “not fun” task has to be done by a parent.  That’s a parent’s job.  And the closer J gets to being two, the harder that job is becoming.

At one point, my family, excited to be in the Animal Kingdom and with my 3 year old niece and five year old nephew leading the way, stopped to take quick pictures of a cute animal and then kept on trucking.  I stopped to take a similar photo, clutching J’s hand with my left hand and trying to wrangle my camera out of my purse with my right hand while also holding onto the stroller which kept trying to roll down the hill and crush any number of small children.  I dropped the camera and as it bounced once, twice, and then three times against the pavement, it felt like nails on a coffin.  My life was never going to be the same.

I didn’t get the picture I wanted, but I held on to the stroller and onto J and managed to shame a nearby stranger into picking up my camera. So that’s something.

I also came down with a nasty stomach bug, the details of which would curl your toes in agony… so I’ll spare you.  It wasn’t the best trip and most of the plans I’d made fell through due to the stomach bug and my general feeling of despair with regards to being out in “real” public. (Disney doesn’t count… it’s like the people of Walmart in there.)

But as I sit here, back in Savannah, in my not-so-clean house with my not-so-clean son, one thing stands out to me…

We did it.

J and I went to Disney World.  We stayed in a hotel room. We went to the Magic Kingdom and rode the Teacups.  We went to Epcot and Journeyed into Imagination.  We went to the Animal Kingdom and got so close to a Giraffe that J’s eyes almost exploded from sheer joy.  And at the end of each day, we made it onto a bus and back to our hotel.  We made very few photographic memories… but I have a million little memories stored away in the vault of my mind, snapped with love and pressed down deep into the crevices of my soul.  Memories like my son’s face when he saw Mickey Mouse.  Memories like him running at me full speed, joyfully calling “MOMMA!” when I’d only been away for a moment to use the restroom.  Memories like sharing ice cream on Main Street, me sitting cross-legged on the pavement and him in his stroller.

Disney was not the best choice for us right now and I wouldn’t recommend it to any newly-single mother.  Seeing families with present and accounted for husbands and fathers was difficult.  Seeing husbands being kind and supportive to their wives was frustrating.  Seeing what could have or maybe should have been my life was so. damn. HARD.

But I survived.

I’m still here.

And at this point in my life, I’m calling that a victory.


16 Responses to “I’m still Here”

  1. TarynE
    May 17th, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

    Hang in there! ((HUGS))

  2. Delia
    May 17th, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

    You said it right – you did it. And the good news is, he had a great time and didn’t notice that you dropped the camera. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be a single mom, but I know it is possible. My best friend has a 4 year old and has been the only parent since day one. It happens often that I sit back and think about how easy something was because I had help and how she did it alone. Hugs! I swear it must get easier…either that or she makes it look really easy!

  3. Roxanne
    May 17th, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

    How strange. I went to Disney World with my then-3.5 year old the same month my divorce papers were signed. And I remember thinking how unfair it was the Disney is so single-parent-UNfriendly. Everything felt impossible, and even though I was there with friends, I felt incredibly and awfully alone. I cringe when I think about the time I threw the stroller down, yanked my child by the arm and yelled at him like a crazy person. (I also yelled at a woman who passed by with a hateful look on her face…)

    But I can look at the few photos I took, and he is smiling in every single one. And so am I. It’s amazing that we survived.

    I wouldn’t recommend it to any newly single parents either, but I wouldn’t take it back. I’m glad that we got to go across the country and enjoy this probably-once-in-a-lifetime thing together. And it brings a few smiles when I think of that time when the divorce was final.

  4. Fancy
    May 17th, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

    Great job Momma!

    When I became a single mom and realized that two hands wasn’t nearly enough for a one year old (and still isn’t for a 2.5 year old) I went out and bout a waterproof, shockproof and freeze proof camera. It’s just a little point and shoot… But for days at the water park when I have to drop EVERYTHING because my daughter thinks she can swim, but really she can’t, it’s been heavenly.

    I’ve dropped that bad boy more often than not, I’ve left it in a freezing cold car for days on end before realizing it was “missing”, it’s been under water, it’s been chewed on, drooled on and abused to no end. Guess what? It still takes great pictures and still looks pretty on the outside… I don’t know how it does it.

    This is the one I have, https://panasonic.ca/english/audiovideo/camerascamcorders/digitalstill/DMCTS1.asp, and as a single mom… you probably need one too.

    Anyway, wow… tangent on a camera.

    You did it! You’re still here! And you’re not alone!

    Your loyal readers are here for you. Your friends and family are here for you. I know it’s not the same, but just think of how awesome you are.

    You took your ONE YEAR OLD to Disney World BY YOURSELF! If you did that, you can do anything. Seriously.

  5. Fancy
    May 17th, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

    Damn…. *bought, not bout. Spelling FAIL.

  6. Nellie
    May 17th, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

    Wow, I’m terrified of going to Disney until my children are at least 20. you’ve got guts lady, I’m impressed.

  7. KristinaYellow
    May 17th, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

    You are a rock star. I’m terrified to attempt to take my 2 1/2 yr old (holy crap-when did she grow up?) there…I’ve never been and I’m freaked by the idea of insane crowds. And as for the tummy bug-did you stop by Charlotte NC? Cause we’ve all got the same thing! UGH. You survived. You have great memories and some memories that right now aren’t so great…but will be funny years from now. You are a rock star. You are J’s mom. He adores you. Go you!

  8. Mae
    May 17th, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

    Glad you went. And survived. And KNOW that you can.

    Sorry we missed a meetup! Next time there is no way we’re letting that happen.

  9. Steph
    May 17th, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

    First ((((HUGS)))) You’re so much more brave than I would be. I can barely get out of bed in the mornings almost 3 years after our trauma and you do it every single day and even if the tears come you are doing it with determination and class that I envy so much!!!

    Second, I traveled a ton by myself when my kids were young because my husband worked over seas for weeks at a time. It.SUCKS. BUT, like someone else said above… it passes. You learn to deal with it and you get better at it and eventually you look back at the time you had to pee so bad you set your toddler on your lap in the stall in the rest area because you had no other choice cuz the floor was NOT an option and you will laugh. It will be a while but in time you will. I promise!

  10. Erica Snipes
    May 17th, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

    You. Are. Awesome.

    Seriously, I don’t know how you did it. Even with two parents, taking a one year old to the so-called “Magic” Kingdom, can’t be easy! And you managed to live through the bathroom and shower situation…ugh! Also, btw, don’t let those seemingly happy couples and families fool you…life isn’t perfect for them, and by the end of the day of crazy Disney/Epcot stuff with small and whiny children, they were probably hot, bedraggled, and bitchy, but mostly in private. In some ways, there is something to be said for being single and not having to worry about how your frustrated end of the day attitude is going to effect someone else’s ego! Ha ha! I’m not trying to make light of your loneliness and your thinking that this time in your life sucks. It does, and you have every right to be pissed, sad, angry, and lonely. But, there are some silver linings sparkling through from time to time. Those good memories of sharing ice cream, and hearing that awesome word “Momma!” yelled excitedly at you. I have 2 year old twins, my son calls me Momma, my daughter calls me Mommy. I can’t begin to describe the warmth that just gushes through me each time I hear those words. So, enjoy the little things, be grateful you made it through the sucky parts, and know that your son will only remember love. Not loneliness, frustration, and dropped cameras. 🙂 Hugs, friend!

  11. Jessica @ Raising an Owlet
    May 17th, 2011 @ 11:11 pm

    You said it best, Momma. You did it. You survived. It sounds like there were parts that were really rough (the bathroom, oh my god! why would they give you that room???), and other parts that were really awesome. (you made me tear up when you talked about J’s eyes lighting up at the giraffe, I imagine my own little one would do the same thing.)

    I’m glad you’re hanging in there. you are a rockstar.

  12. Shelley
    May 18th, 2011 @ 8:52 am

    Congrats on making it through the trip! I cannot even imagine doing Disney on my own. You are brave and courageous.

    I have a suggestion for you. I thought about it when I read about the part of you holding J’s hand, the stroller, and digging for the camera. You might want to invest in a backpack harness for J. AKA a “leash”. I have 2 (so I always leave one in the car and won’t forget it at home). Mine are a puppy and a piggy backpack kind. I always use it in extremely crowded places (airports, festivals, etc.). It will allow you to keep J close to you, eliminate him wondering off, eliminate the ability for someone to take him, etc. The strap just slides around your wrist so both of your hands are free. I often find myself still holding my 3 year old daughter’s hand while she is wearing the backpack. But I have an added security as she cannot get a way from me.

    I’ve received way more positive comments about the “leash” than I have negative comments. And when people say something shitty to me I look at them dead in the eye and say “Atleast someone can’t take my kid away from me when she’s wearing this.”


  13. Jess@Straight Talk
    May 18th, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

    So proud of you friend. These are new milestones that you are tackling. And you are gonna keep doing it better and better. And soon you’ll be back to the well oiled machine that did it all (probably a lot on your own!) before.

  14. Judy
    August 5th, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

    I’d bet that half of those “supportive” loving husbands you saw at Disney were probably perverts that stayed up late on their computers watching internet porn or chatting with their girlfriends in chat rooms and secretly sent their text messages in between helping with the kids. I’d be willing to bet the wives know it deep down and won’t “deal” with it because they’re afraid of being alone. I’d be willing to bet that they saw YOU and your son and were praying for the strength to be like YOU. They are the weak ones, it takes grit and guts to be on your own! People see it and RESPECT it. Go girl.

  15. Barrie
    September 18th, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

    New to your blog but I saw this post and had to respond, having just completed the same not-so-magical trip with my six-year old daughter this past March (complete with stomach bug!) I completely relate regarding seeing all the happy families trekking about and watching with full-on jealousy of the women whose husbands were by their sides engaged and living the life and marriage I should have had. It was heartbreaking – but at the same time, I was proud that my daughter would always know that her first trip to Disney was a memory that is entirely compliments of mommy. Vince may have taken away my marriage and the dreams of what should and could have been, but my place as number one in my daughter’s heart is one thing he can never take from me.

  16. c.c.
    January 6th, 2012 @ 8:55 am

    i’m praying for you.

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