Just another day in the life of a single mom
We make it to preschool, late. My plan of pre-made meal efficiency backfired. The lovely teachers at the preschool don't expect me at a certain time since my son is going through slow immersion. Two-and-a-half is an early age for starting preschool. I put the pre-made meal into the tupperware I brought with me, pour the little carton of milk into his sippy cup and pack it into his bag. "Milk! Mumma, PUHLEASE! MILK!" He's becoming upset. I insist that he wait until lunch, which escalates into crying.
Discipline is a difficult thing.
He rubs tears away from his eyes and wears a frown, not his usual demeanor. His teacher offers to give him extra milk to make him happy. He sips down the milk, now happy as ever. I unzip his jacket, take off our shoes, pack his cubby, and put his lunch in the fridge. We exchange kisses: "I love you, have fun today." I step out the door and wave to teachers and kids alike.
When I get to the car, I think to myself how two-and-a-half is the stage that I'll remember wanting to go back to bed as soon as I drop my son off at school. I turn up the volume on my CD player and start the drive back home. I still have to make the commute to work on the SkyTrain before the hour is over.
I arrive in the parking garage. I manage the cottage cheese, applesauce and yogurt in my arms. I had forgotten my son's usual lunch bag so I had to sacrifice my plastic grocery one. A lady steps out of her car a few stalls down and walks towards me. She is the first witness to my grocery catastrophe.
My yogurt, (my breakfast), somehow slips from my grasp and falls onto the ground, exploding over a two-foot radius. I make eye contact with the woman and we exchange a brief moment of shock. In this moment, my applesauce also somehow slips from my arms and crashes right on top of the yogurt. Glass shards fly across two parking stalls.
"You're going to have to come back down here with a broom. Probably a mop, too," she informs me.
"Yes. I will."
I pick up the remains of the jar, shaking off frustration. Before I reach the elevator on my way up to grab a broom, I notice the woman has trouble walking. I hold the door open for her so she can pass.
A man is approaching, so I hold the door open for him too. Right after he passes me, my cottage cheese follows suit and also drops to the floor, exploding up the wall and all over the carpet.
"Are you serious?!..." I shake my head and look up at the sky. I've been involved in lots of these situations by now, and have learned that anger is only destructive. Although it can be difficult sometimes, I make the choice not to use it.
"Guess you should have brought a bag," says the man.
The woman and I wait on the elevator for the same floor. She studies my face.
"Doesn't that just make you angry?" she asks. I stare blankly at nothing.
"Well yeah, I'm a little frustrated."
The door opens and we part ways.
A light at the end of the tunnel
I grab the broom, throw away my not-so-fresh groceries, and head back downstairs. I'm out of paper-towels due to last night's water spill, so instead I bring a roll of toilet paper with me.
I estimate I'll arrive about an hour late for work. I'm too tired to handle more stress. I focus on something else. I find myself entering an intense state of reflection. I start to sweep. Often, we pity ourselves for attracting bad luck in our lives. From countless experiences of a similar fashion, I have learned to make hard-work (especially cleaning) a meditation, and so it began that way.
'Do unto others'. I think about how good it feels to be able to say that as I sweep my neighbor's stall completely free of not just glass, but dirt and dust. They will never know how dedicated I was, but today they will come home to a cleaner stall.
Sweeping is the simplest thing I could have done that day. Sweep once, repeat. I'm not usually able to have complete freedom of thought while being typically productive. Unless I stay awake late into the night, the leisure of thought-wandering is something I rarely have time for nowadays.
I finish one stall, take a breath, and begin the next one.
I think about how people choose to have faith in good things or nothing at all. The 'light at the end of the tunnel' concept makes a huge difference to me because I'm constantly pushing past my physical limits. At times, when I'm exhausted and hurting all over, I question whether or not I can get out of bed in the morning.
I wish I could rest for just one whole day, but there is no one else here to do the work but me. I carry on. I know that this will get easier with time. The confidence gained from knowing that I can handle it in the interim helps me live a positive life. It's what stops me from getting angry when sweeping parking stalls.
I sweep everything twice over.
Staying calm burns up less of my energy -- energy that I will need for chasing my son later when I go to buy a new broom. If I can manage it, I will pick up some groceries then; although, grocery shopping is a whole other story.
For now, off to a full day's work.