How To Compliment A Single Mom
March 17, 2012
JD’s Godmother Katie and *Uncle Jay brought home their brand new baby boy, Charlie on Tuesday. I love my little *nephew to pieces. You’d think with having a new baby in the house and healing from labor there would be no time for anything else, but I got the nicest text from Katie and it truly warmed my heart.
“I have a whole new level of respect for you. Jay and I were talking about you and how you do what we’re doing together, alone and we both are so proud of you.” Again, these people just had a baby, but their first few days home with sweet Charlie prompted them to text me. The text took me off guard because when I think back to my first week with JD it’s just foggy.
My mom moved into my one-bedroom apartment for five days. I was recovering from a C-section. It burned when I sat down and stood up. I walked hunched over. I had no appetite, but so much energy. I wanted to do everything I could on my own, but my C-section prevented me from lifting anything heavier than my 7 pound baby boy. Still, I got up in the night and changed his sopping wet diaper. My mom warmed the bottle. I fed him, propped up in my bed, the lights were dim. My mom sat on the edge of my bed. I paced in the hallway when he wouldn’t stop crying. He slept on my chest, when I felt like I was going to cry because I was so tired. And, yes, my mom helped out on bad nights. One night, I remember just handing JD to her. It was 3 AM. My pelvis was throbbing. My C-section scar was still raw. “I just can’t. I just need to lay down.” She took him. I woke up at 9 AM the next morning. My Dad was in the living room feeding JD. This was good—and not so good. I was being hard on myself, sure, but I needed to Mommy-up! I kicked everyone out. No more sleepovers.
A week later I was on my own. I handled the diapers and feedings. I stayed up late, alone, when JD wanted to be held and rocked. I made my own coffee in the morning and I napped when he napped during the day. I needed my family to go, to leave us be. I was a single Mom now and I refused to get used to help, because it wasn’t realistic. This made me the Mom I am today—confident, witty, fearless. I feel like I can do anything. It’s because I changed my C-section bandage and a diaper within minutes of each other. I warmed a bottle and fixed a coffee at the same time. I watched infomercials alone at 3 AM while I paced in the living room. I took showers while JD chilled in a vibrating seat on the bathroom tile floor. I often wrote glamour.com's Storked! blog with him strapped to my chest or sleeping in the swing I had positioned next to my desk. JD sat in his car seat, the heat pumping, while I cleaned our Jeep of snow. It was freezing. His father did nothing. He does nothing.
Read JD's birth story here.
Godmother Katie and Uncle Jay live downstairs. On the first night the baby was home, I had the windows open and I heard his squeaky crying (I call this the wind-up cry). I smiled knowing a new little boy had joined our circle. I thought how excited Katie and Jay must be with their son here now, home now. And of course they were over the moon, but reality was they were tag-teaming their newborn who wouldn’t stop crying and wanted to be held 24/7 (pretty typical). They were taking turns pacing and rocking while the other parent slept. It was the next day, I received that thoughtful text. It was so kind of them to send it. It was so unexpected and wonderful. They didn’t quip, “OMG how did you do this alone?” They know how I did and do: Unconditional love. A lot of people wonder how single parents “get by.” For me, I know nothing else. I just know about the love I have for my son. I have the most amazing friends in the world. This is their time, but they acknowledged me? It’s a wonderful thing to matter to someone when you often think you don’t at all. I sometimes feel invisible. I take care of my kiddo like the mom next door, but there's often no one telling me I'm actually doing a good job. There's a little boy zapping me with his superhero powers and negotiating his bedtime, if ya get my drift. I'm not doing anything extraordinary, but I am doing it alone, so getting a pat on the back is well, enough to make me cry. And I did.
Discuss my sweet readers. Thank you for reading.
*Godmother Kate, Charlie and Uncle Jay aren't related to me by blood, despite the use of titles. But, my friends and I are close and we're all family!