Somebody once asked me if I thought I could handle raising Ella if I had to do it all alone. My answer? Why, yes, I really think I can.
But I’m really glad I don’t have to.
We’ve had extended periods of time alone together. Whole days, in fact, from the moment Ella’s woken up until the minute I tuck her into bed at night. And we’ve gotten along just fine. I’m able to take care of all her basic needs at home, and we have the freedom to leave for appointments, play dates, whatever.
But now that Ella is a “big girl”, managing her on my own is getting more difficult. I thought it would be easier as she got older. After all, it took a lot of ingenuity and creative thinking to manage a helpless infant, a just-mobile baby and a learning-to-walk – then run – toddler.
How great it would be when Ella was finally old enough to do things on her own? Old enough to communicate and reason with – she would certainly be much more of a help than a hindrance to me, right?
Wrong. A couple recent events have shown me just how wrong I was.
My husband recently finished a 10-week class that he attended on Monday evenings. Since I have Mondays off from work, this left Ella and I to fend for ourselves from sun up until sundown.
Ella’s bedtimes was typically challenging for me, as she was still getting used to the whole sleeping alone thing. But our last night together was the worst of the 10 by far.
The evening went well enough, as I recall. We ate dinner, played, and watched T.V. Then came bedtime. She simply would NOT go. She wouldn’t walk up the stairs and into her room with me, insisting that I carry her instead. She knows I can’t do this, yet she told me flat out that it was the only way she’d go to bed.
“If I carry you, will you go to bed?”
“You know I can’t carry you, Ella. You have to walk with me. Let’s go.”
I considered letting her rest on my lap, hopefully falling asleep on the couch. Then my husband could carry her to bed when he got home. But after a brief trial run where she would not settle down, I gave up on this dream.
In the end, I hoisted her over my shoulder and carried her, against my better judgment, the short distance from our couch to the stairs. I proceeded to physically force her to scoot herself up the stairs (trying to scoot with her on my lap proved to be too much weight to bear).
The trek finished with me alternately scooting with her and walking her across the upstairs and into her room, then lifting her backwards onto her bed as I sat on its edge. Finally, one hour later than her regular bedtime, she was tucked in.
Ten minutes later, my husband walked in the door. Figures. What a night.
On another recent occasion, I had to drop Ella off at school by myself. My husband and I usually drive to work together, dropping Ella off along the way. But on this occasion hubby had to stay home and wait for a serviceman. No problem, I thought. I can do this on my own.
I planned to have Ella wear her “walkies” so I could maintain a good hold on her as we walked from the car to her class. Besides, at the very least I knew I could call into the school and have one of the teachers help me get Ella into the building if I needed an extra hand.
Well, you know what they say about best-laid plans.
We arrived at the school and I could tell right away that Sweetie was ready for a fight. No more excitement about going to school for her – only drama and tears. No problem, I’ll just call out the reinforcements.
Uhhh, nope – I left my cell phone at home.
And I wasn’t about to leave her alone in the car so I could find some help inside. I had to do this alone.
Somehow I was able to lift her out of the car and over the massive rain puddle at our feet. Having not put on her walkies after all (surprise! – she’s outgrown them), I was left with my only other option – grabbing her hand and dragging her into the building.
(Okay, she walked, but she was none too pleased about it.)
As we approached the building other parents were there to hold the door open for me. I felt awful. I knew these spectators could see my walking stick and understand that I’m obviously disabled. I’m sure they knew why I didn’t just pick her up and carry her inside. But still, I felt terrible. Like there must have been a better way for me to handle this situation, and everyone else knew what that was – everybody, except me.
When we finally made it to her classroom I thought at least then I would get my much-needed help from the teachers. One of them could pick Ella up and I’d make my escape. There’s always at least a couple teachers around.
But not this morning. Only one teacher was in the room at the time and she was busily signing in her charges and readying the breakfast plates. I had to continue to settle Ella on my own. And she did NOT want me to leave her there – no way, no how.
Ultimately I sat her next to one of her new little friends, enabling me to get out of Ella’s death grip. I told her I had to put her tote bag by her cubby – I would be right back. And I was – but only to give her a quick peck goodbye and scoot out the door. It was only then that her teacher came to my rescue and scooped Ella up as she tried to run after me, a fresh batch of tears running down her face.
Never again, I told my husband when I called him from work (having arrived 15 minutes late). I would never again take Ella to school by myself. She’d have to get over this phase of freaking out upon arrival – then I’ll think about it – maybe.
But not until then. Uh-uh.
By the way, the serviceman ended up having to reschedule. I took her to school by myself for no good reason. And guess when the guy wanted to reschedule for? Yep – Ella’s next school day. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Another time had to be agreed upon.
So, yes, I can take care of Ella on my own. But it ain’t always pretty. It can get kind of messy, in fact. Thank goodness I have my husband right beside me, picking up the pieces and helping our family chug smoothly along.