the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Floundering

Last week life whipped out the shotgun that it keeps in the pantry next to the broom and, after a few too many cans of cheap beer, waved it around a little too close to my head. I’d say, hey, don’t point that thing at me, and life would say, really? Like this? And next thing you know a chunk of my ear was gone.

I spend the mornings with my kids alone. It’s a disorienting cocktail of solitude and frenzy.

I get them out of bed, feed them breakfast, dress them, make sure Leta’s homework is complete, and barely make it out the door with my shoes on. It’s getting easier, and I’ve quickly figured out a few shortcuts to grease the machinery. For instance, I let the dogs outside before I attempt to get Marlo downstairs. Not that the dogs are more important than Marlo. No. The dogs’ ability to get outside before defecating in the house? More important than Marlo.

Because you can’t just scoop her out of her crib and rush her down the stairs. She wants to do it by herself while carrying all nine of her stuffed animals (yes there are nine now, welcome to this very special episode of “Hoarders, Toddler Edition”). The Mormon pioneers crossed the country faster than she can get to the bottom of the staircase. I may or may not have googled “toddler base jumping from second floor.”

That and “is it illegal to encourage.”

Three times last week the mornings were so hectic (see: Marlo refusing to eat and then getting mad at me because she refused to eat, her anger so dramatic that I may as well have dropped her off in the middle of the Sahara with a sharp stick and said, “Forage!”) that we forgot to put crucial school-related items in Leta’s backpack. We got to school, realized we’d forgotten those crucial items, and then I had to go back home to retrieve them. Not a big deal except traffic is crazy that time of day and it stole an extra hour out of my morning each time. I know that single parents deal with so much more than this, and now more than ever I feel for those of you who have been doing this and making it work. I write this not to elicit pity, just to put words to this new experience so that I can manage these fires better in the future.

Because that’s what it feels like right now. Fire and ice and buildings burning to the ground.

Add in the phantom smoke alarms, a few consecutive nights of insomnia, and then the connection to the Internet completely called it quits on Friday. Not a great week. All these tiny, inconsequential things build up and next thing you know I’m on the phone late Friday night with tech support for the company who provides our Internet service and sobbing like a goddamned baby. I can guarantee that the man I talked to got off the phone with me and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes. Right after he made an appointment with a therapist to discuss the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder.

This week has been better. I’m holding on to that.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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