On The Go’Constantly
By Ned Wicker
In America there is an ever-growing segment of the population that is beginning to either reach or exceed record numbers, depending on the community. That group, a by-product of the changing American culture and values, tries to make a nearly impossible job into a normal, everyday way of life. The group is the swelling population of single moms.
They get up early to make breakfast and make sure the kids get out of bed, cleaned up, dressed, fed and off to school. They get ready for work, take the toddler off to day care, then they begin their professional work day having put in three hours already. They are executives, secretaries, factory workers, housekeepers, waitresses, and they are in every community. After a full day at work, they drive around town, dropping the kids off at soccer practice, music lessons, figure skating, scouts and while the children are doing their activities, the single moms are doing the grocery shopping and running errands around town.
After activities, the kids need to eat dinner, do their homework, while mom does dishes and begins to clean up around the house. She gets the kids off to bed, finishes the housework before sitting down at the kitchen table to sort out the bills that came in the mail that day. Maybe then she can concentrate on the on-line college course she is taking to try to finish the degree she started when she got married. She stays up until 1 a.m., gets four hours of sleep and starts all over again.
Her friends marvel at this. ‘How does she ever get the energy to do all that?’ What they don’t know is that the diet pills she began taking to help her keep weight off also provide a little ‘pick me up’ when she needs it. A couple of things are happening to her and she doesn’t know it. For starters, the diet pills are becoming a staple in her diet and the abuse of those drugs, to help her stay awake and get her work done, is eating into her rest. The four hours of sleep is half the recommended amount. People do not function well on four hours, even though they will swear they need no more than that. She is burning the proverbial candle at both ends. The energy that her friends think she has isn’t energy at all.
In one way or another, the single mom’s daily routine gets played out. She may not use diet pills, she may use methamphetamine. She may use cocaine. The drug use and lack of sleep make her look 10 years older. She’s doing the best she can, but she needs help. Her situation is just one reason for divorce being such a bad option, but maybe she was not given that option. Whatever the reason for her situation, she is in trouble. She needs support, but may decline that support because she wants to fulfill her obligation as a mother. It’s a lonely place.
Ned Wicker is the Addictions Chaplain at Waukesha Memorial Hospital Lawrence Center