His baby smile lit up the room. Every night I would sing to him and sometimes I even slept on the floor so he could see me and feel safe. At night I would double check the locks on my door and settle in for a restless sleep. The feeling of being his only protector was daunting. In the morning he would greet me with another huge smile and I often wondered if he knew that he was the source of my strength and my happiness. I became an expert at showering while he was mesmerized with Sesame Street. I can remember running out of the bathroom in a towel as fast as I could to see if he was still safe and sound. The long commute to work and my work days were spent missing and worrying about him. I was a single mom.
My ex-husband called and I had tears streaming down my face. Sobs escaped from my mouth, my face contorted in anguish and loss. I turned to look at my son and he was no longer smiling. Instead, his tiny little eyebrows were furrowed as he reached out to me. That day was the last day I cried over the breakup of my marriage. I was astonished that he could read the emotions in my face. I would be strong for him. I would protect him from my pain.
He was sick with a high fever. I was that “mom” who had to stay home again. I opened up the sofa bed and we cuddled together until he got better. I called my mom, took her advice and worried alone. I didn’t have the friends and support network I have today in suburbia. I was a single mom in a small neighborhood of new couples. Odd man out.
My car broke down on the highway with the two of us in it. I had to ask my ex-husband to come help us. Pride swallowed. I wasn’t sure how long my car would last and I had no money to buy a new one. My ex-husband went home to his new house, his new girlfriend and his new boat. There were times that I wouldn’t have enough money for groceries. I didn’t tell my parents. I asked my ex-husband for extra money for groceries. I felt pathetic. I was a single mom and his protector.
I woke up one morning confused. The dead bolt on my front door was locked but the lock on my door knob was not. How did that happen? I knew that I had locked it. I was my son’s protector. The next day it happened again. Then the third night, home alone, my sweet child sleeping, I suddenly heard the sound of a window sliding up. Someone was coming into my house. I couldn’t think clearly and called my former brother-in-law. I was lucky. The man who tried to break into my home thought someone was in the house with me and fled. I went around the house checking windows and doors while I was on the phone. I went to sleep. How did I miss it? The next morning I woke up to find the kitchen screen out and on the ground, the window wide open.
The police came. Marks on my door. Someone was trying to pop and unlock my door knob every night, but the dead bolt caused him to fail. That’s why he tried the kitchen window. He wasn’t coming in to rob me. It was something more personal, more sinister and the police told me to get an alarm system. He had been watching me, and he knew I was a single mom. My landlord said no to the alarm system. I had to move out immediately and found myself in another state with an even longer commute. It didn’t matter, I did what I had to do. I was a single mom and his protector.
Six years after my divorce, I found love again. Battle worn and weary I took a leap of faith. I discarded all of the negative voices in my head and chose my son’s stepfather carefully. A new baby then closed our circle, my little boy became a big brother and I learned how to become a mother who could stop and enjoy motherhood. A gift to feel so blessed.
He is nineteen years old now. The bond we have is like no other. You reap what you sow. He started his second year of college and says quick goodbyes as he moves into his apartment. I smile. I am his mom and I have protected him. Now he can fly.