Day 12: My day, at a glance...
My first thought this morning was, “who cares what I do all day?” However, an astounding number of people have mentioned that they don’t think they could do what I do; that I’m an overachiever. Being a widowed mom of three is certainly tough, the first year was exhausting to say the least, but an overachiever??
Joke’s on ya’ll! Every report card I ever had growing up pretty much stated the opposite. I’m a classic case of “bored, bright underachiever.” I had the “smarts,” but completely lacked any form of ambition. Fast forward twenty years (also, pardon my French, but how fucked up is that? TWENTY YEARS since I graduated high school?! But I digress…), and my work ethic has evolved. Not just because I love my kids (although they were certainly the kick in the rear I needed!), but because I finally found purpose. I found goals that inspire me to dig deeper; to show up when I’m tired, to “bring it” even when I’m sick, to keep plowing forward on days I really don’t feel like it.
What I do is hard. It took me a lot of time to figure out how to be an “only parent.” I know that many people wonder why I left NJ in the first place. It’s been a common topic of conversation for me, lately. After Kenny passed, one of the things I felt a need to do was figure out how I was going to “be.” What kind of parent, what kind of caretaker, what kind of human…I couldn’t do that in NJ, it was too hard. I couldn’t be a functional parent when every turn I made, I came head first with memories of a life I loved, and could no longer have; that I’ll never have, again. I’ve read stories about other men and women in my position who go off the deep end (understandably so!), and guys, I couldn’t afford it. My kids are too young, too impressionable, for me to be falling apart at the seams. I won’t share the stories I’ve heard, because I don’t judge those people. I’ve been in the same pain, I know the burning desire to be reckless, as so many of us want to be, just to feel something, ANYTHING other than pain. I just knew I couldn’t, I had (and have) too much riding on my own actions. I also couldn’t keep on going like nothing had changed, in the place where everything had changed; I couldn’t keep living in a place where I was Kenny Courtney’s wife, when I couldn’t be Kenny Courtney’s wife anymore.
I don’t say any of that with a drop of malice, nor discontent. I don’t think anyone means harm, I simply think, as I’ve said many times, you don’t know what you don’t know (unless you’ve been there). When you’re a widowed mom of three, coming off of nearly five years of caring about every last person BUT yourself, then you get to make that call for you. I had to do the best I could with what I had; and being a good Mom to my kids was the only goal on my mind. And it turns out, it was the right move. Of all the decisions I made in the aftermath, doing this turned out to be the smartest one.
It didn’t turn out to be permanent, one. When I made the choice to stay in NC, I couldn’t envision ever feeling better. I couldn’t imagine a day I would be able to drive around our old town and feel good about it. I couldn’t even fathom a life where I’d feel such a sense of forward reaching purpose. Gratefully, genuinely, I was wrong about those things. Going home has nothing to do with my lack of ability to do my “job,” and everything to do with my desire to rejoin life, and my family, and to keep growing; where my mom is down the road, where my in-laws are a phone call away, where my brother can come over for dinner, and where I can be present for every future milestone for my nieces.
As for how I do my job, these days I’m a pretty well-oiled machine. A typical day in the life of this solo parent goes a little something like this…
4:45 AM: First alarm goes off. I set the alarm for 4:45, 5:00, 5:15, and 5:30. What time I actually get up depends on how much sleep I got the night before. Sleep is my JAM, ya’ll. When I lack sleep, all things fall apart.
5:00 AM (ish): Pour that first cup of sweet, sweet java. Put on a new episode of a TV show I like on Hulu, scroll social media, plan my business content for the day, enjoy the quiet.
6:00 AM: Wake up the big kids.
6:05 AM: Wake up the big kids…again.
6:10 AM: Really, I’m serious this time. WAKE.UP.
6:15 AM: Listen to inaudible grumbles from the older kids. Usually something about tummy aches, scratchy throats, my right knee hurts, my hair hurts, my pinkie toe hurts…
6:17 AM: I say “You’re going to school today! Enough!” Argument ends.
6:20 AM-6:50 AM: Blur of “eat your cereal! Brush your teeth! You did NOT brush your hair, I can tell! Where’s your other shoe? You can’t wear shorts, it’s 33 degrees! Where’s your backpack? I did sign your agenda! Six minutes guys! The BUS IS COMING!! C’mon guys! C’mon GUYS! C’MON GUYS!
6:52 AM: “Love you babies! Have a good day!” Sweetly kiss my kids as they trot off to the bus, like I wasn’t just screaming like a banshee. I’m human ya’ll. It is what it is.
7:00 AM- 10:15 AM: This time is an undetermined void of “whatever.” Nathan is still home. I am usually cleaning up the kitchen after the tornado of the big kids getting ready for school and making school lunches. I often use this time to sit next to Nate while he watches Ninja Kids, and I get some writing done, fold some laundry, or tidy up.
10:30 AM: drop Nate off at school. Shockingly, aside from getting dressed, which is never big on his to-do list, he’s my easy guy. Loves to go to school, waves goodbye, throws me kisses, and I’m out!
10:30 AM- 1:45 PM:
Pay bills. Clean the house. Do the laundry. Write. Work out. Run outside. Work on future content. Check the calendar. Check in on clients. Talk to friends. Make beds. Vacuum. Mop. Wipe counters and tables. Deep cleaning projects like steam cleaning the couches and carpets, organizing closets, tossing/donating old toys/clothes (this happens every week now). Scrub bathrooms (I have five, and I have a six year old who likes to poop in them and not flush…I can’t even, boys are gross!). Give Boone a long walk/run.
*This is also when I schedule any form of self care: hair cut appointments, doctor/dentist appointments, massages, acupuncture, shopping (both of the fun kind, and the necessary “we need to eat” kind), and any form of “sitting.”
**I try to set aside at least one day to see my friends— workout together, eat lunch together, talk shit., chit chat together, a suuuuper necessary facet to my week, and my quality of life. My girls are the dream team.
***Fridays I drop Nathan off at 7:30 and work 8:00-1:00 at the gym (and occasionally fill in for friends on other days).
1:45PM: pick up Nate from school. Pray he falls asleep on the way home, otherwise he will be a bear all afternoon.
2:20PM, big kids get off the bus; Ben usually tells me he got in trouble for being silly, we wash hands and I give them a snack. They watch some TV, I do a little more work.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, instead: Running practice from 2:00-3:30 pm, get Nate from school about 3:45pm.
Most nights, I try to have dinner on the table by 5:00-5:30. Some afternoons we hit the playground, or do a nice, long post dinner walk/bike ride; we also have other things on scattered evenings (therapy, soccer, random evenings I’ll meet friends for dinner or late afternoon play dates). Every other night is shower/bath time, followed by books, and bed by 7:30/8:00. Then we do it all over again.
I’m not an overachiever, ya’ll. I’m simply one parent, doing “all the things.” Maybe you and your spouse split up dinner and bath time, Maybe they take them to the park while you cook dinner. That’s not a thing in my world. I’m not being maudlin, it just “is.” I could just not do some of them, of course, but I want to, and I can. So I do. As long as I can continue to, regardless of where I live, I will still do “all the things.” Because I want to, and I can, so I will.