Yes, it’s true. I did become a single mother twice in these last two years. But how could that be?
Let’s start from the beginning. My marriage started in a whirlwind. First, I was pregnant with my daughter as I wobbled down the aisle donning a white strapless dress. This, of course, wasn’t my ideal wedding but I didn’t want to have another baby out of wedlock.
So, we went to a wedding while I was pregnant. I was going to get married to my now husband anyway. So, why not before the baby, (my daughter) came into the world?
At this point, I’m pregnant, married, and still had two other children to care for. Life should have been great, right? Well, there was one more thing to add. If that was not enough, my husband was going through a legal battle that had him looking at the potential of spending time in prison.
Luckily, that did not happen. However, he did have to spend time in jail.
The First Time
The first time it was for 90 days. I remember driving him to jail. My mind was racing with so many what-ifs. How was I going to take care of three kids on my own? Would I have enough money to pay the bills? What if I didn’t have enough money for the rent?
The worse part was watching my husband be carted away in handcuffs. I turned away and wasn’t even out the door before I broke down in tears that never stopped even as I drove home. I could hardly breathe as I drove home alone, feeling the weight of what was a reality I never thought I’d have to deal with.
I married this man to avoid things like this. My days of being with bad boys were far gone and even in those days, I never had to deal with anything close to the jail. I didn’t know anything about sending money for necessities and food.
If you would have told me my marriage would have started this way, I would have never believed you. I definitely would not have believed you had you said there would be a second time.
I remember drinking A LOT. It was hard for me to sleep without him beside me. The night always brought unexplained sounds that likely came from nowhere but inside a place, my mind went from childhood trauma. Alcohol calmed me so I could put those anxious thoughts at bay so I could sleep.
I never wanted to be a mother taking care of three children alone, but that’s what I had to do. Nothing changed much on the household front, as far as chores and making dinner. However, add in working, paying the bills, and trying to maintain my writing was just too much.
The thing that suffered the most was my writing, which made me so sad. I had come to a point where my writing was taking off and at the end of the day when the kids were finally off to sleep, which would not be until 2 or 3 am sometimes when I could write, I had nothing left.
When he came home that first time, I was so happy. All I could think about was holding him, making him dinner, and watching him play with the kids. However, it didn’t happen like that. After being cooped up for 90 days in a cell, he wanted to go out and be ‘free’, whatever that means.
To say I felt slighted is an understatement. I felt like he didn’t even miss us. I mean, we were the ones struggling as a family to keep everything at home together. I was the one who had to be the disciplinarian, the cook, the maid, the financial provider, all while trying to keep my sanity, which I felt was slowly fading away.
I had to do this before when it was only my older son and me. Things were different then, though. It is much harder to take care of three children than it is one. The meal portions triple. The bills are higher. Everyone pulls you in a different direction and the direction you want to go, you can’t.
The Second Time
The second time, my husband spent 60 days in jail, which seems like a lot less time compared to 90, which, of course, it is. Yet, this time around it was much harder. I knew it would be because our children were much more aware of things. They were older, yet still toddlers in every sense. They were talking very well and could state who and what they wanted. They understood that daddy wasn’t around and asked for him often.
I drove him and cried like before but not the whole way home. This time I was stronger, frustrated that I had to do this a second time, and all the same determined to make it through with my head held high.
There was the same frustration I had the first time with my writing. It was almost nonexistent this bout of jailtime. I had gone part-time, in the hopes of my writing taking an uphill jump to compensate the other portion of the money, we would be losing from my husband’s lost income.
That didn’t happen, though. I had contracted a few freelance writing projects, but I was unable to follow through due to stress, mental capacity, and just the whole thing of running my house alone. Good thing we received a stimulus check because I don’t know how we would have paid the rent.
So, yes I was a single mother two times in the last two years. Before that, I was a single mother to my older son for 10. It has taught me a lot of things about myself; that I am strong, that I can push myself to extreme limits, that I can take care of three kids on my own.
My husband is back home now. He is back to work. Things are a lot better. Though I have failed at many things regarding my writing in the past, I am getting the chance to have a go at it full-time. I am going to be a full-time writer from now on. No more mundane jobs I hate. I just hope I never have to be a single mother again. I can do it. I don’t want to have to be that strong.
Originally published on Medium.