It’s been another evening of flipping pages in the little notebook full of funny stories while raising Rory and Ian, and this one is definitely one for the books!
It was an afternoon of errands – a trip to Costco and another to the Commissary at Selfridge Air Base to get some groceries. I squeezed every penny I made, cut every coupon I could, and found every deal available during those single parenting years, and that included hair cuts. The barber shop on the Air Base charged $5 for buzz cuts, and so after the commissary run, we’d head over to the PX at Selfridge for a quick lunch and haircuts for the boys.
On this particular day, Rory needed to use the bathroom, and what Mom – single or not – hasn’t on occasion had to take her son into the ladies’ room to go? Well, for me it was every time. It was every time because my kids were with me every day, 365 days a year. So going into the ladies’ room was normal for us. But this time, the ladies’ room was unavailable because it was in the process of being cleaned. I stood there for a minute not sure how to handle this. My son had to goooo, and we needed a john!
Do I take my son in the men’s room? Of course not! There were so few people around, I eventually decided to send my 4-year-old son Rory in to the men’s room all by himself. I gave him instructions to wash his hands, and not to talk to any strangers. I reassured him that Ian and I would be right outside the door waiting for him. So, off he went into the men’s room.
A few minutes later I watched an older gentleman walk in, and a few minutes following that – out came Rory, eyes wide open as if the poor kid had seen a ghost.
“Are you okay? What’s wrong?” I asked. And so help me God, I will never, ever forget his response.
“I’m fine! But there’s an old man in there, and he’s peeing in a fountain!”
My poor son had never seen a urinal. I felt like I’d failed as a Mom. My 4-year-old son had only ever gone to the bathroom in public in women’s bathrooms!
It’s 26 years later, and if I failed as a Mom, it was certainly not because he hadn’t seen a urinal by age 4.
There’s a point to this story. Single Mamas – don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can’t do it all. Make sure you surround your children AND yourself with good people who can give you a break so you can get some rest, some mentors for yourself and your children, and don’t beat yourself up if the worse thing your kid can say about you is that you never taught them how to pee in a urinal or hunt for deer. But most important – write your sweet little stories down because one day when your house is empty and your evenings are unbearably quiet, those sweet memories are going to make you laugh until you cry a good, sweet cry. I did that tonight.
God’s been really good to me. All I have to do is look backwards to be reminded of that. And do you know what? Looking backwards with the right perspective makes looking forward so much easier.
Do be sure and look back now and then. (And keep a journal of stories to enjoy when your house is quiet!)
“I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.” Psalm 13:6