Today, I was kicking Monday's a$$.
Mondays aren't typically fun for any working-class citizen. And ask any single, working mom, and it becomes an even less joyful event.
But, in case you forgot where you are, and whose life you're reading, this is TCIE, folks. My brand has always been a bit... different.
Case in point: while devastating in other ways, the legal separation of finances from Robbie's father was quite the blessing for me. With financial safety and only 1 adult to pay for, a huge burden had been lifted, and I could once again focus on securing a future, saving, and planning when it came to the money I earn.
But when my cherub awoke today coughing and sniffling, I knew school was a no-go and 'working' from home was going to once again be... interesting, but doable.
I quickly decided today would be "get on the phone with all 3 of my prior 401K plans and get things moving for the rollover IRA I just opened for my business" day. And in between calls, I'd cook meals, clean up meals, play robots and Legos, sing silly song lyrics, tickle, and laugh with my son. (Like I said, I was gonna kick some Monday a$$, even if I was stuck at home with a somewhat-sick kid.)
While jumping through 3 different companies' different sized hoops just to get my own money out of their hands, I pulled some frozen ground turkey out of the freezer, no plan yet in mind for dinner. Still balancing the phone between my ear and my shoulder and talking with a school representative from a public school where I taught for a hot minute centuries ago (and somehow had a 401K there...?? Got me.), I got on my computer and Googled "ground turkey recipes" to begin the search for something new, something different, something a 4 year old with an aversion to cayenne would like. All the while, the soundtrack blaring in the background is "On Top of Spaghetti" with some very questionable new preschooler potty humor lyrics inserted just before the squeals of delightful laughter.
"Ahhh, perfect," I mumble to myself as I find a turkey Sloppy Joe recipe, still acquiescing to all of the demands of this energetic school rep who won't stop talking about all of the hoops she was about to make me jump through in order for her to communicate with my account holder.
I hang up the phone, laugh along with the hiney and toot musical jokes, then start compiling ingredients, chopping vegetables, and sauteing the onion. "Go use the potty," I happily remind Robbie, not the least bit confused as to why his mind is constantly there, but his body not so much.
Knowing the onions have another 5 minutes to cook before I add the diced carrot which was ready to go, and minced garlic I always purchase already-minced, I am feeling on top of the world by close-to-5:00pm on this Monday whose a$$ I am kicking clear to next Tuesday, as I reach for the jar to open it and stick the Tablespoon in to prepare for its debut into the skillet of what will surely prove to be the World's Best Turkey Sloppy Joes.
But I couldn't open the jar of minced garlic.
Damn. This lid is on TIGHT. And, now, trying to open it, I can see it's so tight, the plastic container is even sunk in a bit, as if the garlic is being suffocated in there by somebody who really wanted to see this garlic suffer. I lower the heat on the onions, because, dude. Everything was going so nicely on this Monday in the life of a single mom...
My kid was still in his pajamas and had been all day, but he was happy, played with me a lot, and was still laughing his head off.
My money was still being held hostage by 3 different entities, but I now knew exactly what each one needed me to do, and have plans in place for the next day to finish my hoop-jumping.
My bank account currently running on fumes hadn't deterred me from setting up multiple bill pay transactions for Friday when my next automatic deposit is received.
I hadn't showered. And I think I forgot to put on deodorant. But I also hadn't left the house all day, so who cares?! And I think I smelled lovely, actually!
And while all of these things could have made me feel like a failure had I looked at them in a different way, I chose instead to see the good I had been able to bring from them. And I was *happy*.
But, I couldn't open the jar of minced garlic.
And now the onions were translucent, and starting to brown on the edges. It was almost time. I was losing valuable seconds. But I started trying to open the jar EARLY. I specifically prepared ahead for this moment! The carrots had been chopped and ready to go for 10 minutes, already, and this is the whole freaking reason WHY I buy minced garlic to begin with, just to save myself a couple minutes of time, because you know what? On a Monday like today, sometimes those couple minutes make ALL THE DIFFERENCE in viewing life through the happy lens or... the alternative. So yes, I buy minced garlic, dammit, and now the gods of convenience were hell-bent on punishing me for it.
The heat was now all the way down on the skillet. The carrots had gone in.
But I couldn't open the jar of minced garlic.
My hands were both red and raw, at this point. I tried every trick in the book. The butter knife had broken a small piece of the lid, and it looked as though I may have a glimmer of hope, there, but no. I still couldn't open the jar of minced garlic.
And it was in those long, harrowing, minutes of pure defeat (and lest you offer the option of a recipe with no garlic, may I remind you, I'm Italian, and homey don't play that) that I wished for, no yearned for, no...
NEEDED a man.
Yes. A man. A man with bigger, stronger hands than mine. A man who could easily open the jar with one twist, and feel like a hero doing so (and trust me, he would have been mine). A man who could be there to assist, support, and yes, DO the things that I just cannot do.
And while I still struggled with that stupid, mocking jar of garlic, not willing to admit defeat, I thought, after all of this... the meal I planned to serve my small, broken family - made with love and talent and joy - would be ruined, and the day would feel like a failure, all because I was not designed to "do it all" and the missing ingredient isn't the garlic, at all.
While I don't consider myself a feminist, I do have a certain level of competence, adaptability, and know-how to feel, most of the time, that I don't *need* a man to feel whole and happy.
But - I couldn't open the jar of minced garlic.
So, this was really knocking me for a loop, as I still wouldn't give up, couldn't give up... when AT LAST!! Off came the lid, out came the garlic, just a minute after the carrots!!
And I quickly resumed cooking as per usual, as my mind began to analyze the emotions my body had just been through. I realized then, I didn't need a man after all - in the end, just as with everything else in my life, I was able to do it on my own. Some things may take longer, of course. Some things may be more difficult, indeed. Some things may appear daunting, or plain scare the crap out of me, sure. But, I do not *need* a man.
... I want one.
You see, in those moments of panic, of "this is all going to be ruined," of making mountains out of molehills, I wanted the calm strength of a man to bring me out of my own head and back to reality. I wanted a man to *want* to be there for me, to talk sense into me, to ease my momentary anxiety with his mere presence, and yes, to open that godforsaken jar of garlic in a split second. I wanted a man to see my strength throughout the day, and recognize where I was falling into weakness, and pull me out of it. And I wanted to thank him, appreciate him, and reward him for all of that, by feeding him what turned out to be the best friggin' sloppy Joes I have ever had in my life.
In the end, I opened that stupid jar of minced garlic. And I felt accomplished and proud of my day. And I was happy.
But I also discovered what I want. Not what I need. What I want.
And perhaps that realization is an even bigger summit of achievement than was opening the jar of minced garlic.