"One day, I forgot to serve my son lunch. That was the wake-up call"
In this edition of Lockdown Diaries, a single mom talks about how the lockdown has been a blessing in disguise for her and her son
I’ve been a single mom since the time my son (Aiden) turned two. He is seven now. We have been through a lot — changing schools, extracurricular classes, schedules. But, lockdown has changed us as individuals, and for the better.
But this lockdown hasn’t been without its share of hiccups, and on rare days, empty stomachs.
Though I struggled initially without the nanny, the major problem was shopping for essentials. I couldn’t leave him alone in the house, nor could I take him along to the grocery store and put his health at risk.
Even Big Basket cancelled all my orders at the last minute.
That’s when my neighbours came to my rescue, helping me with buying daily essentials, until the delivery services resumed.
Without extra help, things did fall apart
Though I’m a single mom, I wasn’t used to cooking, cleaning or any household chores. Suddenly I had to manage all of that, while working eight-10 hours every day, plus keep Aiden engaged.
When a COVID-19 case was reported in my building, I went into panic mode. To make matters worse, my wine stock was over.
But everything really went downhill when I got so busy at work that I forgot to prepare lunch for my son on a couple of days. He didn’t even ask for it. I also ran out of snacks to give him.
It was a wake-up call, but I hit the snooze button, until mid-April when my little one lost his patience.
Irritated and throwing tantrums, he refused to eat and said, “Mama, you’re not spending any time with me, and this time, I know I’m not being difficult.”
I decided to take a leave either on Mondays or Fridays to spend a long weekend with him. I also cut myself some slack: I would clean only the living room and our bedroom. I’d clean my kitchen only once a week. I started setting an alarm for lunch too.
To keep Aiden busy, I started delegating easy chores to him. He felt like the man of the house when he’d fill the water bottles. Now he doesn’t even need reminders.
Being a single mom doesn’t mean you have to struggle alone
My seven year old has come into his own. He takes his own bath, dresses himself up, folds clothes and keeps them in the cupboard.
I have joined his virtual yoga class and he has started learning Spanish with me on Udemy. While we do a lot of things together and miss having dosa at a nearby Udupi — our weekend ritual after his music classes — we have also learnt to give each other space and stay out of each other’s hair.
Being a single mom, who spends two hours travelling to and from work, and is left with only five waking hours with her son, I really didn’t see my neighbours as often as I’d have liked to.
But during the lockdown, they’ve been a real blessing. One of my neighbours helped me stock up my bar the day the wine shops opened. We’ve also had a couple of pani puri nights with the other ladies here.
People ask how I’m managing without human contact, but in reality, I’ve had more human contact now than ever before.
(Janice Goveas is a 42-year-old Mumbai-based public relations professional)
– As told to Arundhati Chatterjee