If this is the case, I’m screwed.
I’m only halfway through this race and don’t know how I can possibly keep up the pace for 13.1 more miles. I’m dehydrated. Exhausted. On my knees. No matter what I do to replenish, it is impossible. I have absolutely no energy.
I’ve been in the motherhood role, single-handedly, for 11 years now. When I say single-handed, I do mean alone. Not only has ‘sperm donor’ chosen not to be physically or financially part of his daughter’s life, I also don’t have family. Which, as I’ve learned, is really who is there through thick and thin. Family are the ones who truly have a vested interest in this child…the ones who will jump in, even when it isn’t convenient or they aren’t up for it. As we all know, parenting doesn’t happen on our terms. It doesn’t wait until we are rested, healthy, or feeling patient and centered. It rears its head when we’re sick, exhausted, breaking up with the love of our life, have lost our job, or totalled our car. This is what makes it so darned difficult.
Parenting, for me, is the ‘cumulative effect’.
It hasn’t just been this past week that has zapped me…It is the build up of all the struggles…
The day in and day out of caring for her as beautiful newborn baby girl… having to go back to work after five weeks, struggling to pay outrageous daycare and diaper costs…
Maneuvering my way through pages after pages of Maricopa County’s child support paperwork after her “father” suddenly questioned paternity. It was just the beginning of discovering how overburdened the courts were. As long as I wasn’t a mother who was abusive, neglectful, or using tax dollars to raise her, they had no interest in my case. Her “father” suffered not one consequence when he didn’t take the DNA paternity testing for almost a year after her birth, (despite me taking him back to court twice. “Ms. James”, the judge addressed me wearily, “I can’t make him take the test”. Really? Then why the hell am I here?) show up for court, or supply me with important information so I could have him served with “Failure to comply” court paperwork when he didn’t follow court orders. How I had to invest time (that I didn’t have) and money (didn’t have) , all while juggling a baby and full-time employment. It wasn’t even when he suddenly filed for split custody (despite never once seeing her), ignorantly thinking somehow this road would be less expensive than paying child support.
How about when my daughter was rushed to Children’s Phoenix Hospital with her first asthma attack and I carried the $10,000 medical bill alone? My $12.65 an hour college-educated job put me over income for any state aid (ironically enough this same amount didn’t allow me the ‘luxury’ of purchasing medical insurance through my employer) Of course I couldn’t afford to pay this outrageous bill so my credit was ruined, robbing me of any chance to buy a car on credit when mine kept breaking down.
It wasn’t when she was wheezing on the couch and I had to play doctor, determining whether or not it was serious enough to pay $100 upfront to Urgent Care and take time off work, without pay.
It wasn’t the ensuing years when her dad remarried, had another child, and was able to drop his child support payments (that he wasn’t making anyway) because he had another child to support.
Nor those years when my daughter’s innocent beautiful brown eyes repeatedly looked into mine, questioning why her dad didn’t love her…
It wasn’t when her ADD/ADHD went undiagnosed for three years…when she was repeatedly being suspended in the first grade because she couldn’t sit still at her desk long enough to focus on her work. It wasn’t when she was day wetting almost every single day (most don’t know this can be a symptom of ADD/ADHD children because their scattered brain doesn’t receive the message in time) or being held back in first grade because she was “socially immature”. We won’t even discuss the lack of support at school, or the Special Education testing we endured for 3-months, only to be told she was choosing her behavior.
The Cumulative Effect. It is the combination of all these years that have led to my exhaustion.
Fast forward….Things have gotten better. Three years ago I got a better paying job that has afforded me the “luxury” of health insurance for her. Her dad has finally gone to work and is paying his $284.00 a month and she is doing better in school, thanks to my pioneering and persistence in her ‘medical condition’. However, as any parent knows, it never ends. There are still school events, volunteering, conferences, doctor appointments, homework fights, getting out the door on time, and her attitude that is more in line with a 16-year-old, rather than a 10-year-old.
The saddest issue for me is that we both suffer. I don’t get to be the mom I want to be, nor the one she deserves. I’m too busy surviving the day. Ironically, I’m also the one carrying all the “no daddy” guilt when it should be on her “father”. I’m the one lying awake at night, frightfully aware of statistics on children raised in single parent/fatherless homes – alcoholism, drugs, pregnancy, crime, and drop out rates. Hell, I work in social services and see, first hand, the long-term ramifications of what just one of these barriers cause, nevertheless a combination of them. I fear for my daughter every single day. I also recognize I’m truly doing everything one person can do.
I’m one person in a two-man job.
I just crossed the halfway mark and I have nothing left to give. Nothing. To anyone.
I don’t need much. I really don’t.
Just need to hear a few voices cheering me on…
One or two people standing on the sidelines encouraging me…
handing me a plastic cup with a splash of water….
Throwing me a piece of energy bar every 2 or 3 miles…
Are you there?
Is anyone there?