As single moms, it’s imperative that we have a good support group around us. Whether it’s a paid nanny, neighbors, church members, a close friend who lives nearby or, thank goodness for me, family– that support structure is critical in navigating life solo.
So last week, I was asked to do filming for a pre-taped news segment. I woke up Wednesday morning excited and ready for the interview. Except I didn’t feel so great. I somehow managed to get dressed (yay–I picked out what I was going to wear the night prior), and do my hair and makeup. And that’s when I realized that I was getting sick. Not just “I think I might have a sore throat coming on” either. Rather, I felt dizzy and fuzzy, that awful feeling of vertigo. I was hot and clammy. I needed help and I needed it now.
A few texts later, I had the neighbors picking up my children so I could get some extra rest before I had to leave. Except I soon realized that I wasn’t capable of driving myself. I rang my dad and he drove me to the filming while I slept during the drive up. While we were getting off the freeway, I saw a billboard for hamburgers. I thought I was going to be sick. This was not a good sign.
I met up with the film crew. They had the perfect spot for the interview—it was a short walk up a trail overlooking the mountains and standing directly in the sun. I somehow made it up to that spot and while they were setting up, I had to sit on the ground. My whole world was going dark. When I stood up, I almost fainted.
“I can’t do this. I’m so sorry. Can we find some shade and maybe I can sit down while we do the interview?” I asked.
We switched to a much better area where I felt a nice breeze. Relief. I almost wanted to kiss someone but I didn’t have the energy. I ran off to the bathroom twice to throw up while they set up. Not one of my better moments, to be sure. I sat down, did the interview perfectly on just one try (or at least that’s what they said!), and then we had to film me doing “stuff” for filler. I had to walk up and down stairs (I seriously hardly remember it because everything was black—I can’t believe I didn’t pass out), walk into a building and open the door, and sit on a bench while using my phone. During that last segment, I started texting myself “please hurry I think I’m dying.”
It was over. My dad drove me home and I really don’t know what I would have done without him.
I spent the next two days in bed, wretchedly sick, unable to eat or sit up. Vertigo. My parents picked up the slack, picking up my kids, taking them to soccer practices and games, making sure the neighbors were picking them up for school, feeding them. Thanks to my myeloma maintenance therapy, I am still immune compromised so if I ever spike a fever over 101F, I need to get my behind to my doctor’s office. My dad drove me to that appointment because I simply couldn’t. Apparently they drew labs to check my red and white blood cell count. I don’t remember it. I swore to my mother that I did not get poked. I was wrong. Scary.
I fell asleep last night at 5:00 and didn’t wake up until this morning. I can’t fathom how I would have managed anything without that extra help. If my parents hadn’t been able to help, there’s one of my closest friends who lives across the street. I have many fabulous neighbors. And through my church, help is just a phone call away. In the past, I had a great nanny who pitched in at a second’s notice anytime I needed her. That support structure is critical.
Being a single mom can be a challenge. Instead of having a partner to tag-team with, it’s all on our shoulders. And while I rather like going it solo (as opposed to being in a failing marriage), having help is essential in making it through parenting (somewhat) unscathed. No matter how successful or independent we might like to think we are, we can’t always do it on our own.
So what’s a single mom to do about that?
Be helpful. I know a woman my age who asks for help all the time but not a single time has offered to reciprocate. After a solid year of really going out of my way to help her, I’m done. Don’t find yourself in this same position. Be willing to help others in need. Pay attention and pitch in when possible.
Ask for help. Oftentimes, we want to be the hero and not let on to anyone that we’re drowning. It’s ok to simply let others know exactly what you need. When it comes to parenting, leave your ego at the door. (Honestly, this has been the hardest one for me.)
Accept help. When others offer to help, say yes. It’s ok.
Get phone numbers. Keep that list of phone numbers handy so when it’s 7AM and you need to call someone to take your children to school, you can. When I was lying on the couch wondering how I was going to make my interview, the last thing I had the energy to do was look up phone numbers. Thank goodness they were right there on my phone contact list and all it required was two texts. All done.
Show gratefulness. When someone helps you, say thank you. Be appreciative. It doesn’t require anything lavish, like cookies or a freebie lunch, but make sure others know how much you’re thankful.
I’m barely recovering from a few very tough days but my children and I have all made it relatively unfazed. I can’t imagine what we would have done without my amazing parents, neighbors and friends. Besides my health, literally nothing is more important.