My alarm clock goes off as usual. It’s morning. I glance at the window only to notice the lack of sunlight shining behind my wine colored curtains. I begin to go through in my head the normal morning routine that is about to ensue. I have attempted repeatedly to get my sequence down to a science but it never fails that the timing gets thrown off in some way or another. Most often, time depletion in the mornings is caused by my own lingering exhaustion that seems to paralyze every fragment of my weary body. That is, every fragment except for my left arm which musters up just…. enough…. strength… to… hit the snooze button…. Just ten more minutes…
In the far recesses of my brain I hear the faint and distant ringing of a bell. It is steady and getting progressively louder and louder and louder…and It’s my alarm!!! I rub my eyes and roll over to glance at the red lights on the clock. 6:55!!! That was the longest snooze ever! I must have missed the second alarm. I jump out of bed, run to the shower, and try to enjoy the fifteen minutes of quiet time and hot steaming water before I start the rest of my day. I hop out, get dressed and make baby girl’s lunch for the day. I need protein, dairy, wheat, fruit and vegetable. No sweets. No chips -unless they are veggie ones of course. “Healthy foods only” is the rule at my daughter’s daycare. Lunch is packed and now it is time to wake baby girl.
“Good Morning, sweetheart,” I whisper as I gently caress the curly black hair off my sleeping child’s forehead. She’s beautiful. She slowly rubs her eyes, looks at me, and rolls over to go back to sleep. This is not her usual and overly energetic for 7 am exclamation of “Good Morning, Mommy!” I smile. Man, I love this kid. I shake my head and giggle as I think about all the fuss and fight she put up before bedtime the night before. I know she is still sleepy. Nevertheless, I manage to coerce baby girl out of bed and we have our routine five minute morning hug before getting her dressed. We brush our teeth, I put baby girl’s hair in two plaits with pink bows to match her dress and polka dotted rain boots. With jackets on, we are out the door with baby girl’s “eat on the way” breakfast in hand…
I pull into my driveway after returning home from dropping my daughter off at daycare. I realize that there is still a week left before I begin another semester of the ritualized rite of passage that we call graduate school. I go over in my mind all of the things that I need to do before then. Meeting with my advisor. A deadline here a few weeks away. Another deadline here a few weeks away. Wash clothes, wash the dishes, and make sure the house is clean before the chaos of the semester commences. I look over my calendar. Hmm… Nothing here significantly pressing. Then it hits me! My child is at school until 5. I am at home, by myself! I am experiencing the rare and quickly fleeting occurrence known as – alone time. Immediately my mind begins to scan and envision the plethora of ways that I could spend the next few hours of my day. The options are limitless. I could…
a) Run through the house, rip off all my clothes, and do the dougie in my draws! I’M FREE!!!!!!
b) Sleep. Good ole Sleep. Oh how I have missed you.
c) Exercise. Whenever I have a moment to exercise Imost definitely take advantage. This is the perfect opportunity.
d) Wait. Did I mention sleep?
e) Take the time to write down my list of things to do and come up with a plan for how I am going to complete this list effectively. If I have this free time to think and get things done, I need to go ahead and get them done!
f) Or I could sit and just…relax a bit. I could spare a moment to hug myself or to even cry a tear or two as I allow a few minutes to finally set down that teetering ball that I have consistently managed to not let drop. A ball that I juggle on a daily basis alongside a combination of motherhood, school, family, friends, and the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritually well-being of myself and my child.
I sit on the couch with a sigh. Let’s see if I can manage a combination of a few of these things. The great thing about it all is that it doesn’t even matter. No matter what, these next few hours are mine.
As a group of diverse single mothers, we all have varying levels of support and assistance on the day to day. Even with this, many of us know the difficulty in carving out amounts of time that we can dedicate to ourselves. Yet, it is important to find these moments – even if they are small- where we can use our time for ourselves and no one else. This is crucial to self-care and caring for ourselves is also caring for our children.
Haile is the single mother of a beautiful three-year-old girl and was also raised by a single mother herself. She is currently a doctoral candidate who research focuses on various experiences of mothers of color and in particular black mothers, including some reproductive justice organizing work in Texas and the effects of growing incarceration on mothers of color.