I don’t mind dying.
With even this whole Covid-19 Pandemic spreading its diabolical tentacles around the globe, I am not afraid of dying. It’s a phase of life we all go through, right? Right.
But here’s the thing. I started realizing the magnitude of this Pandemic when my kids’ colleges started shutting down. When the condo I lived in had new cases of Covid-19. When businesses started closing down. When I couldn’t get food supplies from the stores because they shuttered earlier than usual. When there were no restaurants open for dinner we could go to.
I realized that if something happened, it could happen to me or my boys. It could be disastrous.
You see, in a single-parent household, the head of the house, which in this case is me (whether I like it or not), has to be standing, watching, running, doing, be on stand-by, and remain the last one standing. If I went down, game over.
The anxiety of not knowing what to do could drive people crazy. It felt like, really felt like, the weight of the world was on my shoulders.
Back when my boys were young, it gave me panic attacks. I am not shy to admit this because I am sure I am not the only one: I have found myself crouched down in a corner of my kitchen, in tears, shaking, hardly breathing, or breathing in too much. The first few years of being a single parent were brutal. I thought I could do it because all my life, I’ve never shied away from doing strange, unknown things.
But this single parenting thing was at a whole new level. Whatever I thought single parenthood was, it wasn’t.
I left everything behind after the marriage broke down. I left friends, family, the normal working environment, my life, and myself behind. There was just no room for anything else beyond being the only parent because we cannot afford otherwise.
To others, it looked effortless. I had consistent remote work as an SEO and digital marketing specialist and copywriter and this meant I had “all the time in the world” to care for my two growing boys.
But nobody told me about how much I didn’t know about growing men. Raising men showed me that I can’t be everything to them. I can only be as much as I can be to them and that was all they needed from me.
I had no money and felt broken all the time but I kept going because…there’s no alternative. People ask me how I (we) do it without knowing that the answer is a simple “Do we have a choice?”
As a single parent, the biggest worry of all is what if something happened to me?
I got sick with a persistent stomach ailment one year and ended up in the A&E 3 times because I was vomiting everything I put into my mouth, running a fever, and was bloated beyond reason. All 3 times, I thought that was it. I cried not for myself, but from the fear of not knowing who is going to take over.
Unlike this single mother who knew better by investing in life insurance, I didn’t.
I lie down in a narrow hospital bed with a needle in my arm wondering not about whether something awful was going to happen to me but wondering what Plan B was. I never had one. Did Captain Marvel have a Plan B?
Whether she did or not, I figured I needed one because my boys became older, bigger, and more adept. That was when Plan B came about.
I started carving my way back into society by getting employed the normal way again. This meant I had to leave my boys at home. Thankfully, they’re much bigger now. I’ve made it past their younger years without dying, and they’re doing pretty OK, as far as I can tell but it doesn’t make things easier.
I still worry.
Plan B meant they would have to shoulder the burden with me. No parent likes to do this but my boys were men now, and it was time for them to know what real life is. I am not going to paint a pretty picture for anyone reading this because it was hard. Still is.
The reason I worked from home remotely for well over a decade was to care for my kids while working. I didn’t want to raise latchkey kids.
The term latchkey kid became commonplace in the 1970s and 1980s to describe members of Generation X who, according to a 2004 marketing study, “went through its all-important, formative years as one of the least parented, least nurtured generations in U.S. history.” — Wikipedia
I’ve been carrying out Plan B for more than a year now and as far as I can tell, my boys DO prefer for me to be at home with them. I know they’re doing fine and as great as they can be, I think the years of me being around all the time has become custom. Now, to reach me, they have to text or call me.
When the power went out at one time, I wasn’t a room away. They had to call me to tell me what happened and it took me a couple of hours to get them out of the house to wait out the power outage. They’ve never had to deal with a power cut alone without me to carry the candle before.
The other difference was that instead of always being a loving, patient, and kind parent to my boys all the time, I was no longer ever-present. By the time I got home, I took them out for dinner and crawled into bed like a shell of a human.
But this is part of the plan except that we didn’t anticipate the whole Covid-19 lockdown thing. I have to help them not just deal with fears of infection but also the struggles of not being able to connect with their friends (and me) all the time.
During this time, I’ve exposed them to what life was and death could be. It wasn’t Covid-related but throughout a year and a half, we attended funerals and they saw me and my family grieve. I put them in the frontline to witness what life and death really were. That it was OK to die. That I could die, they could die, anyone could die. It was on the cards, anyway. It hurts like hell and breaks your heart.
But we have to keep going, and we do.
As the number of new Covid-19 cases continues to rise everywhere in the world, the sliver of hope of going back to normal soon began to slip back into the shadows again. We might be back in a full or partial lockdown.
The irony of this is that my work requires me to be one of the front-liners because I am around doctors and nurses who may or may not be exposed to the virus every day. The work they do is nothing compared to mine and I have the utmost respect for these people, way more now than ever before.
My boys and I have come a long way and despite all the pitfalls and the dark edges of despair dancing around us, we continue to move on one day at a time.
This was Plan B and there’s no Plan C.
I believe I have done everything within my power to not require another plan. Behind us are ruins and rubbles of what we’ve done to continue living life.
Plan B is to trudge on as best as we can and that’s that. I can hear life laughing.