Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Have I mentioned that I am not always a model of patience?
Don't get me wrong. I am well aware that I am luckier than many because my kids have a father who has them part-time and is actively involved in their lives. I really feel badly for single parents who are utterly on their own, without a co-parent (or at least local family) to help. And yet, I find the demands of taking care of kids and home solo to be wearying on occasion. It struck me hard on our recent beach trip. The one I planned for, packed for, paid for. I love going to the ocean, but it was not exactly relaxing for me. Vacation or no vacation, there were meals to be cooked and laundry to be done. I was tired when we got home and went right back into the regular work week the very next day.
The period of time immediately following the end of my marriage five or so years ago will be etched in my mind forever. Renting and furnishing a house, realizing that every single household chore that had previously been divvied up between two people was now solidly on my shoulders. I suppose buying an old house in need of a crazy amount of work nine months later didn't help. But I did it. Hauled off load after load of junk, stripped all the wallpaper, painted every room, tore down sheetrock. What I absolutely couldn't do, I hired out. For the rest, I learned to tile and plaster and wire in ceiling fans and to use a table saw and a drill and a chain saw. I dug up badly placed shrubs and learned how to landscape, planted a vegetable garden, bought a lawn mower. Things that had normally been my husband's responsibility were now mine. Worrisome noise at night? Mine. Yard work? Mine. Taking care of car malfunctions? Mine. Negotiating to buy a house and getting a mortgage? Mine. Dealing with electricians and plumbers and a variety of service people? Mine. Even arranging for someone to take me to and from the surgeries required by a little run-in with cervical cancer? Mine. Every purchase, every decision, every everything. Through it all I was being watched by two pairs of big, anxious eyes. I had boys who needed to know we were going to be okay. That I wasn't going to fall. I flat didn't have the luxury of getting lost in grieving or feeling sorry for myself.
And all of it has to be done when I'm not running my business. I go off to work in the morning and come home to hear, "When's dinner?" And stacks of paperwork are set aside for later so that I can cook. Because in addition to seeing my patients, I also serve as the office manager for the practice. Which means electronic billing and accounting and taxes and paying the office expenses. Again, I'm lucky. I love what I do and I'm glad to be able to serve this poor Appalachian community. I don't mind not making a ton of money as long as I can pay my bills and send my kids to college. But loving it doesn't mean it's not difficult, time-consuming work.