My son is obsessed with band-aids. It all started with his school, when the teacher suggested that I try to provide some rewards for when he successfully used the toilet. I don’t really believe in motivating kids through bribes and rewards, but I felt pressure from the teacher to get the toilet learning going, and so I started offering the stickers and band-aids for successful pee-pees.
Somehow it has spiraled into an all-out fascination with kids’ band-aids - Spiderman, Transformers, Batman, even princesses to mix up the gender paradigm a bit. He likes to take five or ten band-aids out of the box and wrap them around his fingers. He insists on getting two or three each time he uses the toilet. There are never enough.
It is getting to the point where the lady at the CVS recognizes us, and asks me:
“How did he get into this?”
“I don’t remember…” I mumble.
“They’re expensive,” she observes.
I try not to project my own shit onto why my son is so into these band-aids. Is he trying to cover something up? Some kind of wound? It is so easy as adults, with all of our baggage, to make up stories about why our children do this or that. Lately, the “bad mommy” loop has been playing loudly in my head.
I feel so despondent that his father is only a once-a-week presence in his life (by his choice).
The other day I took Sami to the playground. He was watching a man throw a football to his son, was instantly intrigued, and started to ask the man to throw footballs to him. I was embarrassed, as I always am, when he asks such things of strangers, worried that they feel obligated to comply. But the man was incredibly nice, and showed Sami how to catch the football.
“You bring your arms in like this,” he demonstrated, hugging the football to him. “Like this,” he repeated over and over, patiently, explaining the technique.
“Are you a coach?” I asked him, out of sheer fascination.
“No,” he laughed. “I just go to all my son’s football games.”
He threw the ball to Sami over and over, and shouted words of encouragement. While I should have been happy that this man was so engaged with my son, and that my son was having fun, all I could feel was impotent rage and deep, deep grief.
I have thought many times of Football Dad since then and the same emotions well up.
Tonight I had the thought that maybe things would be better reversed. Maybe Sami would be better off living with his father and his step-mother and soon-to-be baby sister most of the time, and having partial visitation with me.
Maybe I don’t have enough to offer him.
Maybe he needs a nuclear family. One that I cannot provide because I am fairly convinced that I will never find someone to love and love me and my son.
I know it sounds crazy, I know single parents rock and are awesome, and that a nuclear family is not inherently better in any way, but I am feeling just that inadequate as a parent lately.
Nothing feels right to me. I feel bad about his school. Every morning he clings to me as I take him to school, grabbing on to my legs and hiding behind me, and he doesn’t want to go. But I have to work, and I don’t have very many other affordable options, so I drop him off. He doesn’t nap at school and so when I pick him up at 6 pm he is exhausted and cranky, and we don’t enjoy our evenings together, although I try to make the best of it that I can.
Today I talked to a mother at his new potential school, who told me that she had been worried about her kids doing ok for “such a long day,” from 8:45 am - 3:15 pm.
My son is in school now from 8-6 pm, five days a week. He’s three and a half.
How much of an asshole do I feel like?
Sunday is our day, and I do my best to find fun activities for us to do together. We spend time outdoors as much as possible, where both he and I feel most alive.
But it seems that everywhere I go I am bombarded with reminders of what I lack as a mother and as a person, what we lack as a family, or I should say perceived lack — and no matter how much self-talk I try to do, it never seems to work. These days, all I can see is that we are alone, I am insufficient, and he deserves better than me.
I don’t know how I am going to teach my son to love himself when I live with this much self-loathing.
I want to change this attitude of mine but I just can’t seem to get out of this rut. I feel it will take some kind of divine intervention for me to see life through different lenses again.
I just want a giant band-aid over all this hurt.
I want a partner who will love me and love my son and throw him a football in the park.
I want to learn how to be grateful for and satisfied with the blessings in my life, but if I said I was there I’d be mightily lying.
Welcome to this blog - my chronicle of the illuminating, character-building path of single parenthood. I'm making this up as I go along. My life is my practice, and my five year-old son is my greatest teacher.