Dinner with Marie

Being a parent is difficult enough, but being a single parent is overwhelming. After 9 years of marriage and three kids, I found myself a single mother. When my husband left, I was all my kids had. I had no family close by, so I did what any mother would do. I rose to the occasion and worked very hard to provide for my kids.

There were times that I worked sixty-plus hours a week. I had as many as three jobs at a time. It wasn’t easy but my kids never went without. I always paid my bills and on time, and all without child support. The only problem was that I was working myself to death.

One weekend, I worked thirty hours from Friday to Sunday, with little to no sleep. On Sunday night went to bed exhausted. My next memory was waking up in an ambulance with two paramedic holding me down. I had no memory of how I got there, and I had a splitting headache. They kept asking me what kind of drugs I was on. Seriously? I’d never taken drugs in my life. All I remember while I was lying on the stretcher was being angry and confused.

They took me to the hospital and after being there for a couple of days, they deduced that I had collapsed from exhaustion. Apparently, I had gotten up in the middle of the night and had a seizure. I hit my head on the doorknob of my bedroom door. The worst part was, I didn’t even recognize my own children. My son said I looked right at him but didn’t know who he was. Yet, I kept telling the paramedics to call another employee to open the business because I couldn’t get to my job. Sounds kind of ridiculous, right?

When I finally came home, I began to rethink my life. As a single parent, I had to provide for my family, but I was going to find a better way to do it. I needed to be home more for my kids, work fewer hours, and still try to make ends meet. I knew the way to do this was to find a better-paying job, which wouldn’t be easy.

After a few months, I did find a better job, and I was able to think about taking care of myself. I had been taking care of everyone else for so long that I had forgotten about myself. Growing up, my mother was disabled, and I had to take care of her. I got married when I was eighteen and soon had three children and a husband to take care of. I had never made myself a priority, and the thought of doing something I enjoyed seemed foreign to me.

The first thing I did was start running. I helped my get back into shape and motivated me to eat healthier. I then started teaching aerobics classes so I could help other women get their lives back. I did everything I could to talk with other single moms about taking care of themselves so they would be better equipped to take care of their children. However, my favorite thing to do was to go out to dinner with Marie.

Every few weeks, Marie and I would go out to dinner. My kids were old enough to stay home along or a couple of hours, and I aways made sure they had dinner to eat while I was out. We never wen anywhere expensive. My daughter always asked when she would get to meet Marie. I just told her, “You will someday.”

Time passed, and my children grew up and moved out on their own. One day, my daughter asked my about Marie. “Who was she?” she asked. Finally, I told her that Marie was my middle name, and those evenings I went out, I was alone It was a time to just be me and treat myself. It was my me time. She was shocked to find out that Marie wasn’t a real person. However, Marie was a real person. She was the part of me who needed to feel special once in a while.

It’s easy to lose yourself as a mother because we love our kids so much. Sometimes though, we need to find ourselves. Marie is still one of my favorite dinner companions.

Susan L.