The single mom washed diapers in the community laundry room located at the farthest end of the building from her apartment. She hung them out on the clothesline, or draped them on a wooden rack in the bathtub during inclement weather. She folded half of the diapers for a girl and half for a boy. Amid all the washing and drying, she was potty training her two-year-old. She made formula for her newborn and fed him with bottles while she weaned the middle baby from the bottle to the cup. During meal times, her newborn sat in his baby seat on the kitchen table, the one-year-old sat in her lap while she spooned baby food into her mouth, and her two-year-old sat in a high chair, and finger fed herself.
She laundered and line-dried all of the family’s clothing, cooked meals, and grocery shopped with three babies in tow. She packed her lunch, and worked three days a week. She cleaned her apartment. At the end of almost every day, before crashing and burning, she polished two pairs of white high top shoes for the girls.
Every evening, during the winter months, to make sure her car would start in the morning, she parked it in the alley behind her apartment, close to the back door. She had a huge light with a wire basket around the bulb that she plugged into the outlet in the kitchen. She fed the cord through the back door and placed the light on the top of the engine. After turning the light on, she shut the hood carefully and placed a thick wool blanket on top of the hood. That way she knew she would always be able to start the car at a moment’s notice and to go to work.
Life as a single mother was like living under a heap of freshly fallen snow on the shoulder of a busy highway. Each new day brought a fresh start with clean and dazzling possibilities. Sadly, by the end of the day, the press of life had sullied the brightness and purity of each new beginning.
To be continued …