In the last few months or so, I’ve screwed up in no less than four friendships.
To my single mama friend, I am sorry that my first visit post-birth went so poorly, I’m sorry I didn’t help the right wyas and I’m so, so sorry I got your babes sick. There is so much I’d do differently if I could do it over. I’d so been hoping that I could be your friend and ally on this single mom journey, and, instead, I made it harder for you.
To my best friend, who lost a parent a few days after Christmas, I am sorry for not finding a way to come be with you right after. I’m sorry for not calling on the first, second and third month anniversary of his death. I needed to, I meant to, it was the right thing to do, and I didn’t do it.
To my writer friend, I am sorry for trying to recruit you to the single mama club when you were still reeling from recent losses. It was the worst thing I could have done, and, yet, I did it.
To my church friend, I am sorry for presuming that you could tell me how to be poor once I transition to grad school. I puked a bucket full of class and race privilege in your lap and, truly, I know better.
It appears that I am now a shitty friend. A shitty, sad, chronically stressed friend.
Working, parenting, and trying to take care of myself and basic life stuff has proved to be too much. Being in a constant state of overwhelm for the last year and a half has taken its toll and it wasn’t until last week that I admitted to myself that I’m in a bit of slump here. It’s not a newsflash, but depressed people don’t make good friends. Depression dimmed my ability to discern what would be the most helpful, sensitive, kind, loving things to do with and for the people I love.
I know many of you would give me a pass, single-mom-of-a-young-child-who-works-a-full-time-office-job that I am, but that’s just an explanation, not a justification. The reality is that I’ve missed supporting people who are important to me in big ways, I’ve hurt people, and it sucks.
I missed the sadness because of the acute happiness I feel when I’m with Tima. She lights me up and makes all the crappy go hide in the corners for a little while. And bathed in her wonderfulness, it’s easy to discount all the little signs of discontent.
It was reading Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink by Katrina Alcorn that brought all of these things into focus for me. It helped me label that I’m just barely holding it together, and that everything else (i.e. friendships and housecleaning and bill paying, and so on) is suffering because I can’t keep up. But the book is short on solutions, not because the author withheld them, but because there aren’t really any if you can’t afford to work part-time.
In the short term my options are: therapy (check), drugs (going to hold off on those for now), writing (check), reaching out to friends to apologize (check) and to others for help and support (does this count?), there is a yoga mat rolled up in the corner of my living room which is begging for me to vacuum so I can roll it out and stretch all over it (priority for tomorrow).
In the long term, let’s start pressing our government to make having a family not so god damn hard. Truly it would rise a tide and lift all boats if parents could afford to work part time the first couple years (or if adult children could take time off to care for aging parents), if parental/family leave was paid, if there were universal health care so employers wouldn’t bear the brunt of more part-time employees health care costs, if childcare were excellent and affordable.
Basically, I’d like to invite you to partake in a fucking revolution. There’s nothing like a little bit of political activism to make a mama feel less stuck.
I’m mind-blowingly fried at the moment, and need to go to bed, but I will come back and list some links for activism here in the coming days.