Being a working single mom rivals the Presidency in job stress and logistics, except that the President has a team of agents to help him (not to mention a First Lady!). During my brief but painful 17-day Single Mother term, I would have put the following Presidential agencies to work:
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
In two brief weeks my younger child's class had two consecutive lice outbreaks, the most recent of which plagued our home. What did this mean for me as a single mother? It meant that one afternoon I had to cancel work (read: lose income) and pick up my kids from school midday. What followed was an insurgent, military-level attack:
- $50 in de-lousing shampoos and home sprays
- 3 hours--literally--of nit picking my son who was, thankfully, lice-free, and my daughter, who was not so lucky
- 5 loads of sheet/towel laundry
- 6 leaf bags full of throw pillows and stuffed animals left out in the sun to suffocate lice
- 8 hair brushes and combs soaked in a bleach/scalding water mix
- 2 leather couches scrubbed
- 2 carpets vacuumed
- 10 area rugs taken outside and shaken, then vacuumed as well
- 1 car upholstery sprayed
- 4 beds re-made before bedtime
- 1 margarita
Mornings are hectic regardless of whether my husband is around not, mainly because my 6-year-old daughter is a dreamer. She can spend 20 minutes putting on one sock, lost in her own thoughts. This would be cute if I wasn't in a hurry.
A few days ago, my amazing children woke up before me and got themselves 100% dressed (including socks and shoes!), with hair and teeth brushed and breakfast eaten, all before mommy even woke up at 6:30 a.m. It was a gift from the gods. And certainly a gift from my children. I was literally choked up I was so touched by their efforts. To reward them, I told them they could do whatever they wanted while I got ready.
My son picked up the family iPad to watch Zack & Cody. My daughter brought out her favorite pink nail polish and shook the bottle to get started... only the lid wasn't on tightly and when she shook it, it flew out of her hand onto the tile floor and shattered, spraying hot pink nail polish all over the kitchen cabinets, walls, baseboards, tile floor and grout.
There went my perfect morning.
I wanted to scream obscenities, but my daughter began crying and saying how sorry she was. I was in a pickle. It was clearly an accident; an accident that was the result of her very good behavior. How could I be mad? My son--seeing the look on my face--grabbed the paper towels and, god bless him, got to work wiping. I grabbed the nail polish remover to see if that would help, but to no avail.
So, until my husband gets home, our kitchen bar area looks like this:
Hence, why I need Cabinet Affairs. Someone's gotta handle that crime scene.
I wish that I could be a martyr. But it's not in my DNA. So when my poor husband dutifully Skypes in to see how his beloved family is doing, instead of seeing my smiling face, all he sees is a furrowed brow of despair and exhaustion.
I wish I had a Communications Department that could speak on my behalf and tell him how much I love him and miss him and hope his business meetings are going well... instead of my real mouth which only seems to complain and tattle-tell on the children for their deviant behavior.
I would also have my Communications Department properly parlay my regret for not meeting my last deadline to my critique buddy. I am lucky to have gotten this little blog post out, sister. Forget my 1,500 words!
DOMESTIC POLICY COUNCIL
My husband's business trip coincided with my half marathon training. Since I work full time and am a mother full time, the only time I can run is at 5:30 a.m. before the sun (or my family) gets up. But when you're a temporary single mother, how is this possible?
Here is where it would be nice to have a Domestic Policy Council--to council me in such matters of acceptable Domestic Policies. I can't stop training for three weeks. Nor can I leave my sleeping children locked safely in the house while I run for 40 minutes in the wee morning hours. Or can I? Even WikiLeaks cannot reveal final my decision on this domestic policy.
WHITE HOUSE DEPARTMENT OF SCHEDULING AND ADVANCE
The President's schedule has got nothing on my 6- and 8-year-olds'. The logistics involved with remembering which days at school are dress down days for Scouting or pajama day or don't-forget-your-damned-library-book day in conjunction with having permission slips signed and money packed for field trip snacks and gift shops are mind blowing. Worse? Remembering when to bring $1 for "Hat Day" or "Ice Cream Day" or whatever "Suck-The-Change-Out-Of-Your-Wallet Day" it is. Remembering which kid has a test which day or, more accurately, forgetting this which led to my son's first D on a test. Not my proudest parenting moment.
Who has a play date and where? Do I pick them up or are they being dropped off? Who has a birthday party to attend at which kid-friendly venue? Do we have something we can re-gift? There's a Grade 3 Parent Social and I've been signed up to bring sushi and plastic cups? Great. It's the Principal's birthday and I'm supposed to send my kids to school with flowers for her? Fan-freaking-tastic. I have time to get those. Parent-teacher conferences while hubby is out of town? No probs!
I am like Russell Crow in A Beautiful Mind with a swarm of numbers, dates and worthless data buzzing about in my head. I am also like this character in that I might be going crazy and I'm thinking of moving out to live in the shed. Maybe it will all come together correctly in the end. Or maybe I'll drop my kid off at the wrong Chuck E. Cheese with $1 and a hat.
NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL
I was lamenting my single mother failures to a SAHD friend (that's Stay-at-home-Dad), beating myself up for not being able to handle it all. I'm an organizer! I teach time management to my clients all the time! Surely I can handle my own kids for three weeks! I know plenty of SAHMs and SAHDs whose spouses travel all the time and they manage on their own just fine. But how?
My SAHD friend reminded me, "Yes, but you work all day. While my kids are at school I can do the grocery shopping, prep the dinner, clean the house, get my exercise in and even get a massage if I want. You work an 8-hour day, THEN come home and empty the dishwasher and get dinner ready and all that other stuff. It's a little tougher."
That made me feel better. Still, I've charged the National Economic Council with figuring out how to make it so single moms DON'T HAVE TO WORK! Being a mom is a hard enough job on it's own. No need to add in additional employment.
AIR FORCE ONE
I would employ Air Force One simply to fly my husband the hell home. Sixteen days sooner. :)