Single Parenting Through the Pandemic
by Danielle Stelluto
I would have never predicted that my 33rd birthday on March 11th of 2020 would have been the last time we would be stepping outside of our home without needing protective gear. Single parenting under a pandemic has been challenging. Playing numerous roles all under one roof setting. Home was our sacred place we’d escape too from all else but now it has become the central place for all activities and responsibilities.
It gets heavy trying to navigate parenting, cooking, cleaning, teaching, entertaining, town hall meetings, and trying to carve out time for my writing, activism, and craft. Trying to carve out time for our mental health, therapy sessions, meditation, play, and laughs. Learning to balance it all. Dealing with virtual court dates with their “dad” who went MIA after receiving a visitation contract from my attorney. Can’t co-parent with someone who cuts off all contact. No care or effort even when we are under a pandemic attack. Highly grateful though for our therapist who’s been getting us through these roads that are cracked. Some days I am highly motivated, grounded, elevated and feeling like a guru. Other days, I completely shut down, can barely get out of my head, or my bed. Sleep has had a mind of its own, insomnia and complex trauma is a reality I have long known.
On top of all these stressors, my apartment was leaking water, dripping out of the light fixture from my bathroom ceiling. Emptying buckets for four days straight to prevent it from spilling over. The aggravating part was trying to get help and getting no response from the housing agency, even after calling 311, and the fire department coming inside stating, “this is dangerous and a fire hazard!” They cut off the circuits to my bathroom for safety purposes. It was scary and straining on my brain. A week after it was fixed, our hot water and heat was cut off for three days. Baths are one of our rituals that bring us relief especially during these trying times so going without that was irritating. I am thankful it’s been fixed now and we are secure.
Out of the mouths of babes, “I am missing my friends and going to school.” Sitting in chairs for remote control learning has become frustrating and mundane. They miss sleepovers, play dates, trips to the movie theatres, carnivals, cotton candy, running through the park, and ice cream from Mr. Softy. Missing the feelings of freedom while splashing through beach water and making angels in the sand. A hard pill to swallow when we had to cancel all of our summer fun plans. I witness their moods shifting rapidly from sad, to frustrated, to bored, energetic, to happy. It hasn’t been all gloomy; we still seek out joy and things to appreciate so we can keep afloat. In Judah’s words, “I appreciate spending more time with my family, for finally starting my workout routine. I don’t have to wake up extra early to go to school. I’m happy I get to play fortnight and Minecraft with my friends and video with Grandma.” In Ziona’s words, “I am glad I can still talk to my friends on Duo and with Grandma. I am happy I don’t have to wake up at 6:30 in the morning to get ready for school. I enjoy watching Avatar and other shows with my mom. I enjoy getting to mush my moms face everyday. I like how my brother and I have been getting along more.”
Out of the many complexities, I am grateful to have this bonding time with my precious children, to fill them up with Black history teachings that is not taught in the school systems. To teach them life skills. Interacting and holding conversations. Thankful I have gotten deeper into meditation and soul searching. Thankful for soul family, community connections, and tools for surviving. I am grateful for us simply living. For the power of love. Grateful for my voice. That I can be of service to help build up a new world, lift others up, and bring forth good healing to my self, children, and to the world that surely needs it.
Danielle Stelluto (Dee) is a single mother of two magical children, Latinx and Italian lesbian, poetess, lyricist, and womanist. She has earned two college degrees, one in Digital Music Engineering and her BA in Community Organizing and Women’s and Gender Studies. With her art and writing, she hopes to inspire a new generation of poets and artists with a sense of social conscience and political consciousness. Dee believes in love and community.