It’s not just the lizard.

lizard

So, I found this sneaky guy in my bedroom this week. He was big. He was fast. He was in the wrong place. I had to find a way to get him out the door without scaring him further inside, and without alerting the kids that there was something cool and slithery in their house. I had two fortunate things going for me: 1) I wasn’t terribly freaked out (yet), so I kept my cool. And 2) a very resourceful woman was there to assist with a broom, and we were able to usher him out relatively easily. Phew. But also, ew. It was in my bedroom.

The thing is, I never would have thought to use a broom. Sure, a broom sounds like a logical aid, but I wasn’t in the right head-space for finding simple solutions. Rather, I was nervous and split with the dual purpose of not spooking the lizard and not shutting down mentally. In other words, I was working to overcomplicate the situation in the least practical means possible. Not because I’m not resourceful; I am. But it was yet another moment when being a single mom in a house with two kids felt overwhelming in a brand new way.

I don’t need a man in my life to handle these sorts of things. I never did, really. But there are some luxuries that having a partner in the house affords you, and one of them is that you can delegate tasks that don’t play to your strengths. I’m not good at catching spiders and putting them out, but I have to be now. Turns out, I also have to be good at escorting out other uninvited guests, like lizards. But what about bigger and meaner unwanted visitors? Things that go bump in the night really scare me these days. I double, triple check all of the locks and windows and the alarm. I make a plan, every night, for getting to my kids quickly, if I need to. I mentally map out escape routes for the kids and me that will bypass different points of entry by an intruder. Sometimes, I map out escape routes for just my kids. I keep shoes and other useful quick-grab items next to my bed. I fall asleep, every night, worrying if I am capable of keeping them safe. Not because I need a man. But because I lost a partner — the partner who built this family and home with me, and then left them.

During the night of the lizard, I had horrible nightmares. One of them involved me not being able to get to my kids’ room. Another dream had a dark, masculine figure standing at the foot of my bed. I couldn’t make out his features to determine if he was a man or a ghost — both possibilities shook me to my bones. I tried to yell at him or to wake myself, but all I could muster were gurgles — literal sputtering gurgles. In my waking ears, I heard choking sounds . All I could think was, “I’m drowning.”

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