On Single Life, Sickness and Safety Nets

Filed under: Divorce & Custody, Opinions

the single life

Illustration by Dori Hartley


I wake up just before dawn with a sledgehammer headache.

Aghhh. I mince to the bathroom, head pounding merrily down the hall and back. I dig myself a new cave in my flannel sheets, shivering. My throat wants in on the action: Hey! Check me out! I'm sore!

The girls are with their dad and his family until tomorrow, which means I have 24 hours to try to kick this.

And two articles to write, critical in my underemployed existence. Two litter boxes to clean, also critical. A house sorely in need of scrubbing. A dog-fur choked vacuum to empty. A backyard to pooper-scoop. A mound of laundry that's grown so high, it's insulating the bathroom ceiling. Bills that hiss at me from the desk whenever I walk by.

I am not in the mood to be a grown-up, not today.

Where is my butler? Where is my mommy? Where is my hot, smoldering-eyed cabana boy also trained in healing herbs and potions?

Without the girls in the house, though, there's a bit of a reprieve. I can cut myself some slack, tell myself the chores will wait, peck out the articles between cups of tea. Some single parents (heck, some married parents!) never get a time-out for themselves. I get a breather, from time to time, when I need it.

I'm lucky. I know it.

I have a single friend with young daughters, ages 3 and 7. Their father is not in the picture. Both my friend and her daughters have been sick near constantly this winter, a round-robin of colds and pneumonia and strep. My friend is a teacher. Between both her illnesses and her daughters', she's had to stay home from her job to care for herself and for them.

They've been too sick for daycare, and she has no family nearby. Now the school she teaches for wants her to pony up for the fees they've paid to substitute teachers. She can barely afford groceries as it is.

"C'est la vie," she tells me, with an exhausted shrug. She is pale, with dark circles under her eyes.

She's done all she could do, and it's still not enough.

Which makes me wonder: What safety nets exist in your community for single parents?

If you're a single parent with a chronic disease, or with a child who's chronically ill, what safety nets do you rely on?

What options do you have for daycare?

Where do you find support?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.