single parenting suckage

Ok, here comes one of those confessional type blog posts that I don’t normally write.


I’ve been on Lexapro since last year. If you were reading my blog when I was pregnant, I blamed most of my anxiety on the house break-in, but the vast majority of it was that my marriage was falling apart while I was pregnant.

I would go to my OB appointments and see all of these happy glowing pregnant ladies in the waiting room, and when they called me back to an exam room and asked how I was doing, I would cry. I felt awful because there was no sense of excitement or joy about my baby’s arrival. It felt like my due date was just going to kick off the countdown to the end of my marriage.

(And clearly I was right about that, since Dave and I split ten weeks after Lucy’s birth.)

So, yeah, I’ve been on an anti-depressant ever since then. I think for me, this whole depression/anxiety thing is situational and not physiological. There are occasional times when I feel like I probably don’t need it anymore, but since it’s not hurting anything, I’ve decided that I’m staying on it at least until my divorce is finalized.

Honestly, the idea of not taking it scares me, because I have no idea how I’d cope without it. Maybe I’d be fine, but god, what if I’m not?

And really, there’s only one unpleasant side effect of Lexapro: I can’t cry. Or, rarely, anyway. Sometimes it’s awful, because something will happen and I really want to cry, and I can’t. I get a lump in my throat and the stinging in my eyes, but it never breaks through. I’ll get a headache because I just can’t get that release to get it out of my system.

The closest thing I can think to compare it to (be warned, this is not G-rated) is the feeling like when you’re juuuuust about to have an orgasm and for some reason, you can’t get there. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

(Btw, I used this analogy to explain it to the guy I’m dating. His response was, “I understand that there are words coming out of your mouth, but they make no sense.” Typical dude, I’m thinking. He also said that if he had to choose between not being able to cry and not being able to have an orgasm, he’d be fine with never crying again. I’m guessing 99.9% of the males on earth would agree with him.)

So, it’s a bad side-effect, and an annoying one, but most of the time, I can live with it.


And then I have days like yesterday.

My weekend started off ok. I had a baby-sitter planned for Saturday night, but my date got canceled (emergency came up with his ex-wife and he had to take his kids; it happens, not a big deal). Catie was so excited about the baby-sitter coming over that I decided not to cancel, and instead, I went to the movies by myself.

(I finally saw the Hunger Games. I haven’t read the books, but I was curious about it. And I liked the movie, although I thought a lot of it was extremely disturbing. But I guess that’s the point.)

Sunday morning, when we woke up, Catie asked if we could go get pancakes. It’s rare that she asks me for something that I can say “yes” to, but that sounded do-able. We got dressed and went to IHOP.

While we were sitting at IHOP, Catie just very matter-of-factly blurted out, “Mommy, you love Lucy more than me.”



I said, “Sweetie, that’s not true. Why would you think that?”

She said, “Well, Lucy’s cuter than me.”

I told her that was absolutely not true, that they were both beautiful and that I loved them both.

It bothered me, and I repeated it to her again later. Just sort of, “Hey, remember when you said that? Y’all are both my girls, and you are both beautiful, and I love you both the same.” She seemed to accept it, but man, that whole thing rattled me.

Really, if I look at it from a 5 year-old’s perspective? I get why she thinks that. I am constantly fussing at Catie to be gentle with the baby, share her toys with the baby, stop being mean to the baby, yadda yadda. But I don’t ever yell at Lucy, because, you know… she’s a baby.

And Lucy gets a lot more of my attention, because, again: she’s a baby. Catie is five and doesn’t need me to constantly watch her every move to make sure she doesn’t shove a choking hazard in her mouth or go tumbling down the stairs.

I don’t know how to fix that. It just is what it is.


Sunday afternoon, we hung out at my parents’ house for a while. Then I took the kids to the playground, and we came home to do the whole dinner/bath/bedtime thing.

Oh! Big milestone here! During all of that, Lucy took 4 steps on her own. Left, right, left, right, then she fell on her tush. She was so proud of herself, and afterward, she kept standing up on her own with this look on her face, like, “Hey, look at this new trick I learned!” So far, I think 4 steps is her record, but she took 1 or 2 steps a lot last night.

And of course, it’s been 4 1/2 years since the last time I dealt with this, so I forgot how every new developmental milestone totally screws up their sleep schedules.

So bedtime rolls around, and Lucy is nowhere near sleepy. I let her stay up a little later than usual, hoping that she’d burn herself out and eventually go to bed easily.

That didn’t happen. What happened is that I let her stay up just a little too long, and she freaking lost it. She was so past the point of exhaustion, she didn’t know what to do with herself. So she screamed. And screamed.

I tried everything to comfort her. For an hour. Finally I gave up and put her in her crib and figured she’d eventually settle herself down to sleep.

She didn’t.

[Aside: Somewhere during the screaming, I got a, “Hey, how’s your evening going?” text from The Guy.
I texted back: “Teenagers should be forced to come to my house right now as an on-site demo of why they need to use birth control.”
Him: “Oooh, that good, huh?”]

After listening to Lucy scream for another half-hour (so, 90 minutes of screaming total), I called my mom. Both of my parents came over.

Catie was still awake, because it’s impossible to put her to bed while Lucy is up (plus, how could I expect her to sleep with ALL OF THE SCREAMING in the house?). So my parents showed up, and my mom put Catie to bed, while my dad paced Lucy around the house until she fell asleep.

(And yes, I had tried that exact pacing trick myself, and it had not worked for me. But my dad is the only person that Lucy wants right now.)

I took a shower while my parents put my kids to bed, then I came downstairs, sat on the couch, and burst into tears.

So, apparently when things are bad enough, even the Lexapro can’t hold the tears back.

I just felt like the most epic failure of a single parent. My 5 year-old thinks that I don’t love her, and I can’t even comfort my own baby to sleep.

I don’t know if I have made it through an entire weekend, ever, without calling in backup to some extent, and it’s usually my parents. I feel like I dump my kids on them all the time, and even though I know that’s not really true, and hell, they moved up here for the express purpose of helping me with the kids, it still feels shitty.

So many people tell me that they admire how I’m handling being a single mom, or that I kick ass at this, or whatever, and I just don’t see it. My ex-husband moved 3,000 miles away. What choice did I have in the matter except to deal with it? It’s not admirable, it’s just basic survival. I feel like I’m half-assing it at best, and on days like yesterday, I’m white-knuckling it until bedtime.

I try not to use the f-word on my blog, but really? I fucking hate it. There are two of them and only one of me, I feel like I will never be able to be “enough” for both of them. I keep hoping it will get easier when they get older, but I also know that just presents a whole different set of issues, and I’m not prepared for any of it.

It sucks, basically, is what I’m saying.


I tweeted about it last night, and I got a lot of awesome responses because I have a fantastic online support system, and I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am for that. Really, you guys rock.

The Guy offered to come over and rub my feet, which was very sweet, but he lives a half-hour away, and no way was I staying awake that long.

I thought, oh, you know, it’ll all be better tomorrow after I get some sleep.

Then Lucy woke up 3 times last night.


I wish I had some cute, funny way to tie this up, but I don’t. I’m exhausted and I feel like hell.

I know it’ll be ok eventually. I know this. But for now, I’m bracing myself for another half-assed day at this whole single parenting thing.

12 thoughts on “single parenting suckage

  1. Can I make a suggestion? Maybe once a month or so, have your parents watch Lucy and you have a date, one on one with Catie?

    A movie, a dinner, a play-date at the park. Doesn’t really matter what as long she gets some alone time with you.

    I’m sorry you’re having a hard time, but I do think once Lucy gets past the stage of needing so much you’re going to find it is a lot easier.

    I say that with no experience, just dealing with one relatively easy going kid. So your mileage may vary.

    But you ARE kicking ass. And I’ll be happy to remind you of that anytime you need me to.
    avasmommy´s last blog post ..Today, You Are FourMy Profile

  2. You are no worse at this parenting thing than anyone else. The only difference is that your tag-team partner abandoned the game and left you outnumbered.

    I think you handled Catie’s question exactly right. Every kid accuses their parents of loving the sibling more. And the only right answer is a consistent “No, I love you both the same.” As long as that message is received loud and clear for her whole life, she will eventually drop it and believe you. What you don’t want is for her to see that it bothers you for her to ask, because then she might use it as a tool to get what she wants (“Mommy, you have to give me cupcakes! If you don’t I will know that you love Lucy more!”). Not saying Catie would do that, but I’ve seen kids do that.

    avasmommy has a good idea to have a Catie date once in awhile. And when she is a little older, have a Lucy date as well. Before long, probably in the next year, it really will get much easier. Having a baby plus ANYONE else is going to be HARD. But she is officially not a baby anymore, and in the next 6-8 months, she will start to develop a little independence. By the time she is 3, having two will be as easy as having one. It will happen. In the meantime, call on all your resources (including me! Remember, I am here too!).

  3. Single parenting is just hard as hell. Parenting in general is hard. I think some days we just do the best we can and hope tomorrow is better.

    I will tell you…the you love her best thing is so normal and so that age.

    It will get easier. It will. I promise you that. 1 and 5 aren’t the easiest ages, albeit for way different reasons. Hugs honey. Try not to be too hard on yourself.

    ps. I agree wholeheartedly with Jenna. Dates with one kid helps a lot. Even a few hours alone with each of them each weekend may help.
    Issa´s last blog post ..Titles are a lot of workMy Profile

  4. Really sorry you are dealing with this particular chunk of reality. Who WOULDN’T cry in that situation?

    I agree with making some 1:1 time for C, and also? Remind her of the special privileges she gets because she isn’t a baby anymore. She probably gets to pick what snack she wants, decide on a tv show to watch, pick clothes, go to K…all kinds of things a baby doesn’t get to do that a big girl does. It’s a chance to reaffirm how much you love having a big girl. I think this might be a way to get through until they don’t have such a huge developmental gap anymore.

    I think you are doing everything right. It has to be hard to call your parents to come over when it’s too much and when things go wrong, it just does. But like you say, you didn’t choose this set-up, and if that’s a way to deal then it just is. I don’t even want to think about what it would be like not to have that.

    Oh and I would keep that Lexapro filled up for the forseeable, too. This is just no time to take away any support systems. Tinker with that later. Besides, if it’s one you have to taper off of and deal with side effects, that’s an even better reason not to go there. I’m glad you got on it; you correctly assessed that you were in a crisis period and dealt with it. It was the best thing for your girls to have one rock-solid parent, and you totally stepped up.

    Here’s hoping for an easier week, somehow. ((((hugs))))

  5. Great big, giant hugs, sweetie. I know from my occasional (more frequent lately thanks to too much business travel) experiences with single parenting that it sucks and is hard. We all have hard days, days when we half-ass it, even those of us who can tag team the kids. I hope tomorrow is a better day for you. You are an awesome mom and your kiddos are lucky to have you.

  6. Single parent or not, I think it’s VERY common for the older kid to feel that way about the younger one. They had all of your attention, and now they share it with someone who is needier than they are, and rightfully gets more attention sometimes. You’re doing great.

    Also, one of the things I haaaaated about anxiety medication was the fact that I couldn’t cry.
    Megan @ Mama Bub´s last blog post ..Assorted Bub UpdatesMy Profile

  7. For many antidepressants aren’t needed for the rest of ones life. It is something that is needed to help us along the way for a time, but when the time comes for you to go off don’t fret if you feel the need to return to them. That is what they are there for. And who knows at some point after that you may never need them again.

    Catie feeling the way she does is normal. And your response to her was right on point. I agree with avasmommy, if you can make special dates with her that may help. And congrats on Lucy’s first steps.

    Being a single parent is difficult, but you are doing it. And from what I read a wonderful job. Kudos to you for taking on the job and responsibility and doing it to the best of your ability. And continue to reach out for suggestions and help, because it does truly take a village.
    miss tejota´s last blog post ..Music Monday – Broadway Cast RecordingsMy Profile

  8. My son was born when my daughter was 5-1/2, and even though she had begged for a baby brother & was thrilled to death when he got here, she said the same thing when he was 15 months old. She had never so much as HINTED that anything was bothering her, but then over Christmas she told both sets of grandparents that we didn’t love her any more & that she wished she had never asked for a brother. It seemed to embarrass her when I asked her about it, but I basically told her the same thing you told Catie & explained that I DID understand that he was getting more attention (because he’s a baby, because she’s older & more independent, because it was the first Christmas he was really getting into & was getting a lot of attention because of it, etc.) & that I was sorry if she felt like I (we) had been choosing him over her. I did what the previous poster suggested & pointed out the things that she got to do that he was too small/young to do (gymnastics, school, things like that), plus we left that stinkin’ baby brother with the grandparents that night & took her out bowling & to a movie. ;o) Since then I’ve made an effort to make sure there are things that she gets to do without him (& I find a way to point that out to her, even if I have to say, “Your brother is SO jealous right now!”) & we have one-on-one time whenever possible.

    It’s not easy, even with two parents at home, but having been in your place with ONE child…well, I know it’s hard. You’re doing your best, & your girls will see that. *hugs*

  9. I don’t have kids yet but it really does sound like you’re doing a great job. About the lexapro, Taper it for months (not weeks like your doc will suggest). They’ve never tapered it themselves. It’s a shock to your nervous system & the receptors in your brain. Wean off of it. My BIL cold turkeyed himself & became a different person. He lost his wife. That was 3 years ago. He’s wants her back so bad. They were together since teenagers. She just got engaged I saw on Facebook. I don’t have the heart to tell him. I myself tried to not wean off Valium (for back spams). Holy sh*t. Worst thing I ever did. I weaned over a year bc I had been on it for 8 years. The withdrawal symptoms were hell ( severe insomnia, palpitations, first ever anxiety attacks, etc.) because of the class of drug lexapro is it is easier to wean off of but still go slowww. Hang in there!:)

  10. Huge hugs. I remember days/nights like that. My ex and I split up when Gabi was about the same age as Lucy was. That whole first year was full of guilt and verge of tears. I went on Zoloft which took care of the costant verge of tears thing. But it didn’t erase the super tough days like you just had. In fact I was just reading a post from my archives in which my then 5yo Isa said, “you’re nicer to Gabi than you are to me.” stab to the heart. Thank God there was a rainbow at the end of that storm! Give yourself a huge hug from me. Hope you have lots of good days to help balance out the crappy ones. xo
    Lex´s last blog post ..Under waterMy Profile

  11. When I used to be a nanny and would babysit for other parents on the side, I would do overnights and weekends. I would babysit for 2-3 kids at a time on the overnights/weekends. By the end of it I would have *so* much more respect for single parents. I don’t know how you all do it. I would wake up several times in the night to feed the baby, then it would suddenly be time to get up for the morning. Then I’d have to get breakfast for the young ones, while feeding the baby, then hey the baby needs a diaper change! Then dishes need done, the kids need entertained, the baby needs a nap, the kids want this, that the other. Oh hello it’s lunch! The baby is up from the nap, the kids are bored, someone spilled juice, what the hell is that on the floor?! Then you realize you forgot to plan dinner. Finally it’s bedtime and you get the two youngest ones down but baby won’t fall asleep. By the time I was done I was exhausted.

    And there was one time I couldn’t get my charge to stop crying. He just wouldn’t stop. I tried everything, a bottle, rocking him, everything. I ended up calling my grandma, I was crying, he was crying. I was 18 at the time. She told me to walk him around the whole house. So I did. I ended up walking him for an hour. He finally fell asleep after an hour. I’ll never forget that.

    My point? I seriously respect you so much. I’m 30 years old and I don’t think I could do what you’re doing. You are so strong. And you have the support of your parents and you are doing WONDERFULLY. And you answered Catie perfectly. She may think you like Lucy more because right now she (Lucy) is getting into things because she’s at that step where she’s learning to walk and is curious. Maybe next weekend have your parents watch Lucy on Saturday and take Catie out for the day, just you two. Have a special mommy and Catie day. I think it would brighten her day.

    You’re doing great Cindy. I am very proud of you. <3

  12. I’m not a parent, but my parents were divorced. my dad only lived 20 minutes away and my brother and I were able to see him as much (or as little) as we wanted. But… my mom was still raising us on her own. My brother and I were a little older (he was 7 and I was 5), but we were still kids. By the time I was in jr high, my mom was a full-time grad student and recently divorced (after a short second marriage that didn’t work out). My mom tells me now how she felt like my brother and I turned out great just to spite her because she did everything she could to screw up our lives.

    Thing is, she did’t. She (and my dad) were there when we needed them. They loved us. They supported us. I’m sure I said all kinds of things to both my parents that I don’t remember. Looking back as an adult, I can see a lot of times when Mom wasn’t around (because she was working/in school), but it never seemed weird at the time. And she’s told me later that she felt so bad and so guilty… I’ve told her not to–because, honestly, to me, it all seemed normal to me.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that you may feel terrible and guilty and like a failure, but you’re not. As a child of divorce, I didn’t even notice half the things my mom worried about. And when I was older, especially in college, I appreciated having the extra responsibility I had as a kid (getting myself to school, making dinner for me/my brother/my mom). I felt like I had a leg-up on the majority of my other friends whose parents had always done everything for them. At least I knew how to take care of myself and fix my mistakes–and I made a lot of them.

    As I told my mom when I was about 17 yrs old, “Yes, you and Dad are divorced and things haven’t been perfect, but I have two parents who love and support me and that is more than some kids with married parents have.” (I said this many other times when people tried to tell me I came from a broken home–and I was always surprised at how many people told me my home was broken.)

    Also: I’ve seen my friends be single parents… and I have absolutely no clue how they do it. I’m amazed at their resiliency. So, hats off to you. But, seriously, do not feel bad or guilty because you fall back on your parents. If they didn’t want to do it, they wouldn’t.

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