Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Single Mom

Most of the time, I am surpremely organized. I keep our home neat and clean and file away our papers and bills. I track our family obligations using a paper planner and Outlook and schedule little pop-up reminders with sweet sounding bells that go ding! several days in advance. I keep our endlessly variable summer calendar in a separate Excel spreadsheet (yes, I blush to admit) complete with color coding. Still, every once in a while, fate intervenes to remind me: I am not in control.

I enrolled in a class this past January to bring my skills and resume up to date. The class meets all day for the first Friday and Saturday of each month for six months. Those days are a scramble as they require changes in our carpool schedule (involving as many as 5 moms), our after-school schedule, our Saturday morning schedule, and our Chinese carpool and class schedule. I call a neighbor lady to help relieve and walk the dog. Max is twelve. He’s older now, a little more mellow, a little more fragile.

I thought I had it all under control.

So when I drove home one Friday from class, I was feeling quite pleased with myself. My daughter was off on a play date and I had a whole extra hour. I was thinking how nice it would be to use that hour to do a few things for my class, in my office, at my computer, stringing whole thoughts together, uninterrupted, before retrieving my girl. That was before I opened the front door. Max greeted me with his normal wiggle and wag, but then --

Sniff. Sniff, sniff.

Something was wrong. I followed the scent and found the source. Max had eaten something that didn’t agree -- and required a full-scale evacuation. Whether it was a case of shame or sibling rivalry, he’d retreated upstairs to my daughter’s room. And crapped all over her carpet.

Pffft! So much for that peaceful hour, quietly composing my thoughts.

I took Max outside to be sure there was nothing left, then grabbed the poop bucket, the spatula (yes, when you have a dog with a sensitive stomach, you keep one of these in reserve, clearly labeled), along with rags, and the Spot Off. I threw open the windows, changed my clothes, and spent the next hour furiously scooping and scrubbing the rug, emptying the bucket thinking:

Maybe I can get it all up... Maybe it won’t smell so bad with a little more air. Maybe she won’t notice…!

I knew my daughter. If she got worked up about this, it could potentially sink us both. She wouldn’t sleep. I wouldn’t sleep. We’d be a mess in the morning. There was even the risk I’d miss my class. I needed this class.

I threw the rags in the washer, changed my clothes (again), and hopped in the car to fetch my daughter. Her friend’s mom had sent an email that afternoon, inviting me and another mom to join her for a drink. I’m not a drinker. Truth is, I’m a total light weight. But it was Friday night and I thought: What the heck. I’ve earned this! The girls will be happy and I could use the company and conversation.

When the mom brought out the tequila, I was honest. I put up my hand and said, Oh, no... I’m just not that much of a drinker. But the moms poo-poo’d me and I didn’t exactly argue, so we sat back and started talking. And you know what? I like sucking on those cute little lime wedges, I like salt, and I like Tequilla!

Before we knew it, it was 10 o’clock. I looked at my watch, jumped up, thanked the mom, extracted my daughter, and drove -- carefully -- home. I thought: If we move quickly, I can tuck my girl into bed, get that hour of classwork done, and still get some decent shut-eye. Woo-hoo! I’m a single mom and I do have a life!

We pulled up to the house and parked. Then I remembered,

Oooh… I wonder if she’ll notice..

Mom. Look. There’s a note on the door.

That’s funny
, I thought. Must be a promotion.

We walked to the door and I pulled out the note wedged in the handle.

Oh no…!

Mom? What is it?

Oh my God!

What, Mom?

Uh… Remember that lovely new piano teacher we finally tracked down and booked? She came. Tonight. For your lesson. And she waited. Oh my gosh…. How could I?

We opened the door. I was sick at the thought of that nice lady standing on our doorstep, waiting. And waiting. This was bad, really bad—

Huh? (Sniff. Sniff, sniff.)

The odor was stronger this time –- no, fresher.

Mom? What’s that smell?


I bolted upstairs. He’d done it again! All across the exact same area where, on my hands and knees, for close to an hour, I’d scooped and scrubbed.

I looked up. Max stood in the hall, cheerfully wagging his tail. My daughter stood in the doorway, wailing. He did it in my rooooooom!

Time for damage control. I grabbed the dog and shut him in the bathroom. I grabbed my daughter by the shoulders trying to prevent a descent into the abyss.

Come on kiddo. Don’t lose it now. You’re tired. I’ll take care of it. Trust me. Work with me. Hold it together.

It occurred to me I was begging.

But I can’t sleep in here!

I know you can’t. Don’t worry. Hang on. Look! I’ll set you up in the den!

Now, I was bargaining. I stepped into the den and started frantically pulling cushions off the couch. But then –-

Sniff. Sniff, sniff.

I wheeled around and couldn’t believe my eyes. The dog was a flippin’ poop machine!

My daughter started up again: He did it in here too! Now I really don’t have anywhere to sleep!

I took her by the shoulders again.

Honey! Its okay. You can sleep in my bed!

Full scale capitulation. But it worked. She perked up.


She never gets to sleep in my bed. She loves my bed.

But where will you sleep?

Don’t worry. I’ll figure it out. Just go brush your teeth and get in your jammies.

Twenty mintues later, I was tucking her into my bed. She kissed me good night, her face a broad, happy smile.

I spent another hour and a half scrubbing the upstairs, fifteen bleary-eyed minutes on my classwork, and finally, ten more minutes on an abject apology to the piano teacher.

Then I slept downstairs. With the dog.

1 comment:

hellojog said...

How did you manage to keep that one quiet on Sat am??