Pity Party: It Really Sucks Being Sick As A Single Mother
There is no worse time in a single motherâ€™s life than when she gets sick. On Saturday morning, I woke up with a fever and couldnâ€™t swallow. When I did manage to swallow, it felt like I was swallowing knives. Whatever I had caught, I knew I had to deal with it immediately. Since my daughter was fast asleep still, my first thought was, â€œCan I just leave her while I go to the walk-in clinic myself?â€ Obviously, I was delirious with fever, because I could and would never do that. So I woke her up.
â€œPlease,â€ I croaked. â€œIâ€™m really very sick. I need to get to the walk-in clinic and you need to come with me. So, please, get dressed in whatever.â€ My daughter, who’s the sweetest, hopped out of bed with no complaints and got dressed. â€œIâ€™ll meet you at the front door,â€ I told her. She came downstairs and I wanted to cry. How lucky was I to have such a good daughter. And then I wanted to cry because my daughter wasnâ€™t going to get breakfast, not until I saw the doctor, and at a walk-in clinic on a Saturday morning, the wait could take hours. [tagbox tag=”single mother”]
At the clinic, again, I felt awful. Physically, and also because there I was having to take my daughter to a walk-in clinic filled with people hacking and sneezing, all very contagious with their flu-like symptoms. What kind of mother was I to bring my daughter into this situation? Well, a mother who didnâ€™t seem to have another option. Again, I felt like crying.
After checking in, I plopped myself down in a chair and found one for my daughter that was as far away as possible from the other sick people, but still within sight. I had told her to bring her iPad. Again, I felt like the worst mother in the world. I could barely speak and what 8-year-old wants to be in a walk-in clinic with a mother who hasnâ€™t fed her breakfast yet?
Finally, after just over an hour, I was taken in to see the doctor. I pointed to my throat. He felt my very swollen glands and said he wanted to take a swab. I found my voice. â€œNo, Iâ€™ve managed 37 years without ever having to do one of those. I just canâ€™t do it. I canâ€™t!â€ Again, not the best role model for my child, who may one day need a strep test, to see her mother so fearful about a little swab. (Along with spiders, itâ€™s my greatest fear.)
â€œItâ€™s okay, Mommy. It wonâ€™t hurt,â€ my daughter told me. So, after decades of getting away with never having to have a throat swab, it was because of my daughter that I managed somehow to do this, without vomiting or having a full-on panic attack. She patted my arm after and I thought, â€œGod, Iâ€™m such a baby! My 8-year-old is comforting me. What next? Is she going to buy me a lollipop?â€ I got my medicine and my daughter told me she was starving. I raced with her to the nearest restaurant to buy her a breakfast sandwich, apologizing for making her wait to eat, while thanking her profusely for being so patient with me.
I received an e-mail from a play date that had been set up that day, asking if it could be moved back a couple hours. I cancelled the play date entirely because I knew that the moment I hit my bed again, I wouldnâ€™t be able to get up, let alone get her into the car and drive her to her friend’s house. Again, I felt awful. All because I live alone, as a single mother, and had no one to help me, my daughter was now missing out on a play date.
Part of this is pride. Iâ€™m sure I could have asked a friend, or her grandparents, to take her for the day. But, instead, I crawled into bed, telling my daughter that she could buy movies off the television all day. I did pass out for hours, waking up at around dinnertime. â€œDid you eat yet?â€ I asked my daughter. The question was academic, of course. She doesnâ€™t know how to cook for herself. The poor girl had missed lunch, because of me (at least she had a late breakfast). And so I ordered in Swiss Chalet because I was too sick to move.
After she ate, she came and lay with me in my bed, trying to cuddle up to me. â€œYou canâ€™t!â€ I said. â€œReally, I donâ€™t want you to catch this.â€ I felt like crying, again. There is nothing worse than having to shun children, even if it is for their own well being. â€œCan we at least hold hands?â€ she asked. My heart broke.
At one point that evening, in my feverish state, I decided that I’m going to get married. Because while things are hard as a single mother, there is nothing harder than having to take care of a child when you need taking care of. So marriage it would be! But then I thought of a married friend of two children. She told me once she was so sick and her husband didnâ€™t even know or realize it. She made arrangements to drop her children off at her motherâ€™s. When her husband came home, she actually texted him from their bedroom, saying, â€œPlease, can you please go out and buy me some ginger ale. Iâ€™m really, really sick.â€
So maybe all women feel like single mothers when they are sick. All I know is that when I get sick, I feel very lonely and sad. I threw myself a pity party. There were tiny violins. By Monday, I was fine. But I had ruined my daughterâ€™s weekend. And the guilt stays. Thereâ€™s no antibiotic for that.
When you get sick, do you feel like a single mother? Or does your husband help out?