Single Parenting With a Chronic Illness


(this is part of the Soulful Sunday series)

This past week I've had a few aha moments. As I woke up on a Saturday, I had to do some extra running around in order to make things work, and I started writing this list in my head.

Of course, as the day went on and my endo belly made its appearance, the list grew.

I have been told I am not a single mother because baby girl's dad is in her life. I've been told that I am better off than most people because my brother lives with me. I've been told a lot of things by a lot of people that fail to understand and honor my reality.

And, while I still don't think it's everyone's business to know the intricacies of relationships, juggling, compromises and let downs, I think I owe other single moms (and especially single moms with chronic illness) this little list.

And let me say that the list isn't mutually exclusive. I know mamis that don't have chronic illnesses that deal with some of this. But, because I am a single mami and I do live with a chronic illness, there are days of strong intersections between the two. Sometimes, out of necessity, one informs the other.

What it means to be a single mami with a chronic illness:

  1. It means you spend a lot of time at home. More than you'd like and you battle the guilt of your child being indoors more often than the general recommended times.
  2. It's staying up into the wee hours, doing laundry and packing a bag full of clothes for a trip she will not take while also packing yourself up after dropping her off at school in the morning for a trip you must go on.
  3. It's finding out that all the plans for that trip suddenly changed with one forgotten calendar item discovered while you're in the air.
  4. It means missing meetings that you'd like to attend because you don't have your mom (or any other family member) by your side to perform the essential "watching" required for a slice of carefree parenting when you have things to do or things you like to do come up.
  5. It's never having a choice about holding it down but people acting like you do.
  6. Chronic illness means finding and making up new games to keep your child laughing and happy when your pain level is at a steady 7-8.
  7. It means having people look at you, your smiling face, your happy child, and proclaiming that all must be right with your world as you struggle with the reality that a second child is further away than a first child ever was.
  8. It's people telling you that you are lucky because "at least you have her." As if the prayers of gratitude don't play in your head for the better part of each day.
  9. It's people thinking that because the dad is involved, your day-to-day life is easier but having no clue about what the fuck your day looks like.
  10. It's your child learning to make her own breakfast when you have a 2-week bout with pain and no one you can turn over to in bed to ask if they can take care of it.
  11. Single parenting means smiling when people stop and tell you about the beautiful co-parenting relationship you have simply because they read Facebook posts and don't have access to your text messages.
  12. It means always fielding questions from your child that you cannot answer while promising her that you'll always tell her the truth.
  13. Chronic illness means backing out of commitments because you did too much the day before even though you push yourself for one good hour or two in order to still bring some normalcy and fun to your child's life.
  14. It's means people with skin in the game saying they are there to help but still showing how their values system contradicts their words. Over and over again.

There are many more. And let me say that one does not discount the other and as a whole, none take away from the life full of gratitude that I live and the blessings that abound.

I'm so mindful of my blessings. I not only try my best to talk about those blessings but, to do right by them. To make sure that I am putting my money where my words are, where my intent is, where my actions live.

I have good days and bad, like everyone else. And I am grateful for them all.

Good day, friends.