Dear Single, Childless Co-Worker:

I can hear you sighing from your office.  You know, the one right next to my desk (ok, fine, my cubicle).  I can hear you from your office –the one with a door.  I don’t know what is going on with you today, but from the level of sighing (which I suppose I have to admit is low this week – last week was much worse), I’d assume you are dealing with single, childless woman problems. 

To be perfectly honest, I am not sure exactly what that means.  

You see, for the last 20 years I have not ever really been “single.” I have had a single relationship status, true, but I have been a mom for the last 20 years.  Most of the time, in fact the overwhelming majority of the time, I have either been a single working mother or (worse) a working mother in a relationship. Thank God I am finally married to a man who gets it, so I have help and support. And someone to have fun with… and awesome sex with.  But I digress…

This means that in the last 20 years I have not not had someone (a someone who I love more than my own life, and now 3 of them) completely dependent on me.  There really isn’t an adequate way to describe to you what that means.  Not having kids, there really is no way you can understand. 

This morning alone I woke in the bed with 3 other people.  The 4th person in my particular equation was not present and just about my first thought upon waking was, “Have I heard from Greta yet?” [my real first thought, by the way, was actually, “what part of Ezra IS that poking into me?  Oh, God! Am I lying on the baby?! No.  Ok, he’s all the way over there – and breathing.  Whew .  Move. Ezra. NOW.”]  After making a little time to assess, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and went and started my coffee.  Of course, “my coffee” is not just mine, like yours is.  “My coffee” is mine and Jay’s.  Anyway, I also made a bottle for the baby and got Ezra’s breakfast.  I took a cup of coffee and bottle to Jay so he could feed Sawyer.  [He is awesome!]

I then got a shower.  Well, I got a shower after getting Ezra up, giving him said breakfast and showing him his laid out clothes. And explaining to him that I was getting in the shower and that while I was, he needed to get dressed.  And reminding him to keep his underwear on.  I then showed him his socks and shoes and made him repeat it all back to me because he was half paying attention to me and really was watching Curious George.  I then explained that if he wanted to do it himself and watch TV, he had to do it while I was in the shower, because if he was not dressed when I got out, I was going to turn off the TV and Jay or I would do it. There were then protests from Ezra, but he moved and began taking off his jammies.

THEN I got in the shower.  I noticed that I was running a bit behind from the clock in the bathroom and realized I may have to skip shaving.  At least with shaving cream. Maybe I could just run the razor over my legs and pits real quick.  Damn.  I really should have gotten a shower last night.  But I was too tired to even clean the kitchen after cooking enchiladas, Spanish rice and guacamole for everyone last night. 

Oh, you got take-out and didn’t dirty a dish?  And caught up on episodes of Dexter?  Three of them?  And then The Daily Show.  Yeah.  I bet you were too tired to stay up and watch Colbert.  And then that alarm clock didn’t go off properly again?  Really, I think you should invest in a better one.  A 4 year-old really works, but I’d recommend you go to Best Buy. You were only 10 minutes late, though, so that is totally within reason, I know

Anyway, while I got dressed after my shower, I briefed Jay on where Ezra was and reminded him that Ezra’s dad was coming to get him at 9a for the dentist.  I realized I did not have time to pack up leftovers for my lunch and figured I’d have snack stuff at my desk instead.   I cursed myself again for not packing things up last night and came to the conclusion that I would just warm leftovers tonight and clean the kitchen and make cookies this evening.  Then I remembered I have roasted vegetables in the frige at work and felt better about my lack of planning. 

I kissed everyone good bye, threw out a few reminders and dashed out the door.  And I thanked my lucky stars as I turned out of my neighborhood that I was not taking Ezra to daycare this morning, which adds an extra 40 minutes to my commute. 

I know!  Yours is only 20 minutes without a trip to daycare.  That is awesome. And still only 10 minutes late this morning! Impressive.

So, when I walked into the kitchen this morning and started fixing my breakfast while you were fixing yours, and when I hear such sighs coming from your office, I just cannot figure out how you do it all. And I have to ask – what exactly it is that you and the friends who call your work line all day long talk about?  Yeah, did you forget I can see your calls so have a decent idea of how many personal calls you get every day?  What exactly does that one chick who calls 5 times a day have to talk about?  Oh, that’s right, she doesn’t have any kids either.

How do you wake up alone every morning?  I suppose I’d over sleep as well if I were in bed alone.  Of course, it would be a mystery as to why I could not hear an alarm clock and simply fix coffee, get showered and dressed and out the door at the same time every day, too.  I mean, if you only have yourself and traffic to worry about, at the very least there should not be any surprises unless they were traffic related.  And I deal with those, too.  But if I am very honest, I have to admit that even in Atlanta traffic you are really ever that surprised. Traffic sucks.  You know it sucks.  So does everyone else.  You also know that if you live 15 miles from work, it is going to take 30-45 minutes to get in (news flash, not 20).  So, really, there aren’t many surprises from traffic – maybe once a month a really good wreck or something, but generally not. 

You want to know the definition of a surprise is in the morning? A surprise is when you look back to cattle prod your 4 year old down the front steps and notice that his pants are on backwards.  And then you go to fix that and realize that his underwear is inside out.  And then you look at your watch and realize that, if you fix this, you are going to be at least 15 minutes late which might warrant a text to your boss.  And then you literally stand in the driveway and WEIGH how bad you don’t want to text your boss against how bad you don’t want to take your kid to daycare with their pants on backwards and inside out.  That is a surprise.  I am guessing you don’t have those. 

So.  I would recommend you not send me texts suggesting that on your “late day” I not be late. Or get a grip on those emotional outbursts when you are “trying to get your dosage just right” [what’s that medication for? Oh.  Stress-induced irritable bowel syndrome.  Yeah.  That must not be pleasant. But “stress-induced” really??]  Trust me, I am on top of it – along with everything else for everyone else this morning.  Here.  This is a link for a new alarm clock that wakes you by screaming and rolling off the table and under the bed.  I hear they tried to mimic the morning actions of a 2 year old.  Good luck!

Disclaimer: I realize this sounds horribly bitchy, self-serving and contemptuous.  I take full responsibility for it.  I made choices to have kids and I am positive that was the correct choice, so there is a bit of validity in criticizing me for sometimes complaining that additional responsibility is difficult to shoulder.  My problem, and the reason for the level of venom in this, is not because I want to make excuses for me being late or tired or running a bit ragged, it is because someone acts as if they are shouldering as much responsibility as I am and being judgmental about it, when that is nowhere near the case.  I realize that I made the choice to complicate my life with children, but you made the choice not to. So don’t roll your eyes when I am not here because of one of my kids.  I do my job… and without the melodramatic sighing and two-hour shopping lunches you apparently need for coping with your job stress. I also think one day off with my husband and kids is way cooler than your week in Cabo. My only suggestion, other than remembering we are responsible for our choices, is that you not have kids.  You’d never be able to hang.

Further Disclaimer: this co-worker is fictional and a conglomeration of some of the single office co-workers I have encountered over the years as a paralegal.  I am in no way referring to any one individual. 

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