I’ll admit it. I don’t like bugs. If there’s one in the house and my kids are around, I’ll take a deep breath, tell them that all of nature counts, and gently put it outside. If they aren’t nearby, I’ll smash it to smithereens with the nearest large object I can find. Either way, it makes my butt pucker. So imagine how I reacted when the school nurse called. Lice. Eww. Plus a bleggh. Let me be clear. I am not the kind of parent whose children get lice. That honor is reserved for other people, and I admit it, until recently, I judged them. It must be their fault. Bad. Bad parents. Then, without any warning, I was inducted into the Nit Picking Club. Intellectually, I know that lots of kids get lice, and intellectually, I know that it has nothing to do with whether I did my dishes or what income bracket I fall in or if I let my daughter skip her bath because we got home late from gymnastics. But when I went to the school to pick up my kids, I still felt like everyone was staring at me. And that’s because they were. Apparently, one of the little boogers in my daughter’s hair lots its grip and tumbled to its death on a desk. Another student saw it. And gasped in horror. My daughter crumbled in humiliation. I dutifully picked the kids up and headed off to the grocery store for some of that shampoo. The shampoo part is the easiest. It’s the combing part that gave me the willies. I took a deep breath, calmly explained this was no big deal, and tried not to cringe as I picked nits out of my daughter’s hair like I was a chimpanzee. Then it was my son’s turn. For those of you who have yet to experience the joy of this, I would highly recommend getting some generic shower caps to keep on hand – you need them so the shampoo can sit and do its thing. I’m not sure which traumatized my son more, the lice, or the Strawberry Shortcake shower cap I forced him to wear. The sheets were washed. The stuffed animals were fumigated. Brushes were boiled. My hair was treated just in case. And I learned that this whole disgusting thing is actually pretty darn common. Did you know there’s actually something called Headlice.org? Not sure I’d ever want to brag about my association with that group, but according to them, September is Head Lice Prevention Month. Now that’s a cause I can get behind. If their efforts aren’t 100 percent successful, and you someday find yourself boiling brushes, just know that you’re in good company. Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
OK, I admit it. I tried a dating website.
That’s the thing. When you’re a single mom working full-time and taking care of little ones at night, there aren’t a ton of options. Oh sure, I loitered in front of the produce section hoping some nice fella would comment on my Granny Smiths, but it just never happened. I probably lost some of my appeal because of my accessories – that would my kids. Don’t get me wrong, they are my life, but they do tend to dampen my sex appeal when they’re running around like maniacs in the grocery store.
So yeah, I hit the “Sign Up Now and Meet the Love of your Life!” button. After the kids were in bed, I would sneak down to the office and scroll through the pictures and the descriptions and the “I love travel and adventure” and the “I’m looking for a woman who looks just as good in a ponytail as she does in an evening gown.” An evening gown? The closest I can get to that is my flannel pajamas.
There were emails with some of the guys. Most of them were nice enough. Many of them weren’t too interested in a mom with kids. Occasionally, there’d be a guy who seemed interesting enough to actually meet, but that became tough because I have my kids more than I don’t, so arranging a date sounded something like “I’m available three Tuesdays from now, from 6 to 9 p.m.” Kinda took the spontaneity out of the experience.
But I did go on a couple of dates, and that’s when I learned the rules had changed. Did you guys know that there is a rule about who calls who after a date, or that there has to be three dates before this happens, or six dates before that happens, and that you can’t see where a person lives until some moment I never quite understood. Sheesh. I needed a handbook.
I quit using dating websites the day I realized I wouldn’t exactly be proud to say, “This is my husband. We met online.” It just lacks the romantic flavor I hope for. I want to be able to tell people some great story about how my husband accidentally ran over me in the parking lot, or stopped the thief who stole my purse. So I canceled my subscription and went back to the produce section. To buy some apples.
Written by Gabi
I remember the first day I realized I was a single mother – not that my divorce wasn’t a clue or anything – but I remember the first moment it occurred to me that it was up to me now.
My son was about 6-months-old, and for the first time since he’d been born, I decided it was time to have that much deserved glass of liquid calm. Wound up yakkin’ with a friend til the wee hours, and finally collapsed much later than my designated 9 p.m. bedtime. Around 4 a.m., I heard my son’s cries from his room. I lifted him from his crib, brought him into my room, and as I laid on my back in my bed, I lifted him above my head.
“What’s a matter lil’ dude?” I asked wearily.
He puked in my mouth.
He had the flu. Within a few short hours, it became apparent that my 2-year-old daughter did, too.
Picture this: it’s about 115 degrees outside. The hottest Denver summer in history. I bought an older house, in part because I thought it was “cute” to have radiators. Only with radiators, you can’t have air conditioning, so now, both my children are throwing up, and since they’re not old enough to get to the bathroom, they’re puking on just about everything, including themselves, me, the furniture and the floor. And the house is like a sauna. Within about another 5 hours, I, too, get that feeling in my stomach that tells me I, too, have the flu. Now it’s the trifecta of vomiting. In a hot house. Did I mention we didn’t have air conditioning?
Of course, no one will help me because they don’t want to get the flu, so the only help I get is an occasional ring of the doorbell when people leave Pedialyte at my doorstep and desperately run for their cars.
I covered the living room floor with towels, and well, let me poor little kids have a pukefest. It lasted two long, horrible, dreadful, unforgettable days. And in that moment, I was relatively sure I had sunk to the depths of hell.
That was six years ago, and I’m glad to report we all survived. Because that’s what we single moms do. We survive. It’s not always pretty. It’s not always pleasant, but we always figure out a way. And each and every one of the moments that makes us think we just aren’t cut out for it gives us a few more tools that prepare us for the next surprise.