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Benigni and I

February 18, 2011

I haven’t written much lately, because I’ve been wrestling with a funk. And not in the Bootsy Collins, shake-yo-thang sort of way. The post-divorce therapy has helped me navigate the setbacks when they come one or two at a time, but every once in a while I feel like I’m standing on the parapet of the Hornburg, and the ladderfuls of Uruk-hai are mounting the walls, and I’m not sure I have enough Elven archers to keep them at bay.

[Non-nerds may now commence Googling.]

The thing about funks is that they’re really good gateways to wallowing. But wallowing is a luxury not afforded the single parent. This is especially true at this point in my life, when I’m working freelance and taking care of my boys every afternoon. When they’re at school or with Moxie, I have to use the crucial time to get work done, but if I let myself wallow, I’ll kill the whole day medicating my brain with “Mr. Show” DVDs.

And when the kids are with me, I have to cast myself in the sequel to “La vita è bella,” even when la vita ain’t really all that bella. You have to do whatever it takes to wall off the dismay and engage with them, and damn it if that isn’t one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Then, of course, while you’re playing with your kids on the floor, hip-deep in chess pieces and LEGOS and arts and crafts, your five-year-old son will show you the Valentine he just made and say, “I love Valentine’s Day, because a heart upside-down is a butt.” And you will realize that the ones you are trying to protect from your funk are the best candidates to pull you out of it.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2011 4:31 pm

    So so good…

  2. Heather permalink
    February 18, 2011 10:39 pm

    Please write more….us single parents in permanent funk rely on you…..

  3. SweetPea permalink
    February 19, 2011 11:23 am

    Thank you for writing this . I’m sorry you’re going through this, but at the same time it helps me tremendously to know that I’m not the only single parent out there struggling with this issue. You are so right – trying to engage with my child while depressed truly has been one of the hardest things I’ve experienced, even compared to a wretchedly hard divorce situation, but if I can make even the smallest effort, he pulls me out of it every time. Hang in there.

  4. anne permalink
    February 19, 2011 1:09 pm

    so true, thanks for writing this – made me feel better too. sometimes i get tired of pretending i’m ok and strong.

  5. LOD permalink*
    February 20, 2011 5:37 pm

    Actually, a wallow moratorium can be a good thing. Life is too short to sit and simmer in the shithouse. Being forced to pull it together when you’re single parenting makes you confront things head-on and get busy with making the best of the situation.

    When life hands you lemons, make limoncello.

  6. February 20, 2011 7:50 pm

    Funks are important first steps to next stages. Embrace it.

    Now, if you don’t mind, may I ask a favor? Could you please, please use the words co-parent instead of single parent? Really. My ex-husband does this, he creates this whole “I’m a single dad” image when I am still here. Still breathing. Sometimes standing right next to him. Still involved with every decision, every meal every teacher conference, every hair cut. I actually provide 75% of the child care and still he is the single Dad. Yes, I see that you are currently doing more child care at this time in your parenting life, but lets all help evolve the consciousness of post divorce with accurate descriptions.

    Thank you, rant finished. I hope you understand my request was with the intention to help all co-parents, not singling you out, but you are in every way a role model for the best possible way to manage c0-parenting.

    • LOD permalink*
      February 21, 2011 1:55 pm

      @Kimberly: I see your point, but at the risk of launching a semantic skirmish, I think co-parenting and single-parenting are different beasts entirely. Co-parents work together to create the best environment for the kid(s) they can, consulting each other on decisions and keeping as open a dialogue as possible. But when it’s just you, child-wrangling with one hand and holding your forehead with the other, and for whatever reason you have no prospect of help from your ex, that strikes me as awfully singular.

      • February 21, 2011 1:58 pm

        Point taken, but under your definition, most stay at home moms with working husbands are therefore single mothers…..

  7. February 20, 2011 8:51 pm

    I am happy to say that I didn’t need to do any googling! That may/ may not be a good thing…

    • LOD permalink*
      February 21, 2011 1:56 pm

      That is a GREAT thing. Always helpful to meet another Ringnerd.

      • Sally permalink
        February 21, 2011 2:42 pm

        I kinda prefer the term “Ringer” myself. 😉

        [no googling required for me either.]

  8. Kim permalink
    February 24, 2011 12:35 pm

    Those single parent funks are no fun. As time goes on, they will lessen. Hang onto those special moments, “I love Valentine’s Day, because a heart upside-down is a butt.” Priceless!

  9. February 28, 2011 11:40 pm

    It’s funny…I was just telling someone the other day that when I get in a funk, I clear several evenings in a row and watch all of the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVDs…and all the extras. I usually feel much better after that. (So no Googling necessary here, which I guess means I’m a nerd?)

    Yes indeed, putting on a brave face for the kids is exceedingly hard. I hope that you are finding a little time to yourself, maybe after everyone’s in bed, to do a little of that brain-medicating zoning. Wallowing can be a trap, but giving onesself a break is important, too.

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