My child worked so hard this evening to get my attention in order to give me a “hand spa day.” It was so sweet. I kept putting her off in an attempt to complete the never ending list of things that I needed to get done. First it was stopping by the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions, then getting dinner together, doing dishes, watering the yard, weeding the yard, clipping some small weird trees that are popping up, and tying up loose ends in my consulting work. By the time I was ready, it was 9:30 at night, my son had been on the phone with his best friend for an hour, and my daughter was standing next to a sink filled with now cold water, bordered by towels, nail tools, polish, and lotion, waiting so patiently. She asked me to sit down and place my hands in the sink and relax. Then she proceeded to chat with me like I was at a spa and she was just making conversation.
“Did you know it’s stingray season in Florida? Yeah. They hide under the sand and you step on them then ZAP! they sting you. So there’s a special stingray shuffle you do to avoid stepping on them. Like this.” She demonstrated the shuffle.
“How have you been staying busy lately?”
“Did you know Elon Musk is not going to buy Twitter now? I think they are still making him pay a billion dollars though because he decided not to do it.”
(I was thinking that the daily current event assignment I had given them for the summer was really paying off).
“Did you know that cats have spiky tongues? That’s why they never lick you.”
From my room, my son paused on his Nintendo Switch and said, “A cat licked me once. It was weird.”
“Noah, cats don’t lick you.”
I threw in. “Actually I think cats do lick you. My business partner’s cat was licking her face non-stop on camera the other day during our meeting.”
And so the banter continued, with my son popping in now and then when something peaked his interest.
This whole experience brought to mind a post I saw on Facebook recently in my single moms group. A mom was sharing that she had just had her second child, her hormones were out of control and she was crying all the time. She asked: does this get any easier, and could the group please provide some encouragement. I paused after reading that post and thought – no, it doesn’t get any easier. Raising children is hard with a partner, but it feels nearly impossible on your own. You will never stop crying, not knowing what to say or do, and feeling overwhelmed, lonely and afraid. But I wanted to say something kind and encouraging and not depress her further.
I wish I could have seen ahead to this evening’s activities and shared them with her via some type of experiential telepathy: the spa, the conversation, my son laying on my bed in the room next to us, chatting in randomly, my daughter telling news stories. How this all felt, and the special bond we have created, first launched by the decision twelve years ago to have a child in an unconventional way. So hard, and so many tears, and craziness and stress and it doesn’t stop, it never has. People have always tells me it gets easier in some ways but harder in other ways. You spend less money on daycare and more money on sports and other activities. They rely on you less for assistance with every day stuff but it get tougher with emotional stuff and bigger decisions.
It doesn’t get easier. Balancing the tough stuff with the profound feeling of gratitude from the bond we share and the love we have and the gift of all that – that eases the “does it get easier” question. Maybe that’s not the right question. I’m not sure what is. Maybe that’s just always the first question in those moments when you feel like you’re drowning. I am wishing for my fellow single mom that spa day love overwhelm energy.