As a Queenpin, a single mama, a woman on her own I find myself more and more trying to prove to myself and my beasties that we are complete as a family, just us three. I want them to see that I can do this. Me, a woman, on my own can do it all. Even though I am about as handy with a hammer as a gnat, and couldn't light a fire in the woods even if my own ass was lit, I am determined to show these kids that a mama is enough. Even an impatient, clumsy, cussing mama, can be enough.
Last weekend a group of us went camping and kayaking. I'm learning about this kayaking/canoeing thing. I'm doing it for my kids. I want them to love the outdoors and be competent in the woods. Teaching them is hard since I don't know shit. Thank goodness my Single Mama Savior across the street was planning a trip with her boyfriend, her beast, his beasts, some other friends & their beasts. Single Mama Savior knows how much I want to be all that I can be so she invited us to tag along. She also invited the third mama in our single mama group, Sassy Single Mama, and her two beasties. It was gonna be a lot of kids, a lot of new folks, and hopefully a lot of fun.
The Friday we were leaving I went to pick up a canoe. I took my beasts with me to show them that the Queenpin could load a damn boat on her own damn car. I had already packed up all the camping gear, why not load the boat? Well, it seems that loading a canoe on your car is not easy to do alone, especially when you don't know what you're doing. Help was called in, not one, but 2 men! Still no boat on the car. Queenpin felt so low, Queenpin felt like she had failed. Queenpin gave up. Fuck the boat. I can still take them camping, I tried to reassure myself, but my inner gangster had been shot down and I knew that I sucked and I had failed to show my kids that we could do this!
Single Mama Savior, Sassy Single Mama, and I call these moments single mom moments. When you really feel the loss of not having a partner. They are the moments when you can't get the boat on the fucking car, when you lose your temper with your beasties because you don't have someone to step in and give you a break, (and by lose your temper I mean LOSE your temper, you know, one of those pea soup and head turning Exorcists moments that you pray to Buddha no one has caught on camera). They are the moments when you feel you can't do it alone. They are ovary busting moments, kick you in the gut, and break your heart moments. Thank goodness I only have about three a year, who but Mike Tyson can handle an ass kicking like that?
On the way home from canoe failure I texted Single Mama Savior, "I just had the worst single mom moment." When I pulled up, there she sat, on her porch waiting. We sat and smoked and I told her about the damn boat. The were big fat tears. "Don't worry about it," she replied, "We'll go by in the morning and get it. We'll load it up together."
And damn if me and my 5" 1' friend did not load that boat up on my car in 10 minutes, and not once did my little man beast say, "Don't you think you should call (insert man's name)?" because he did not think his mama could do it.
The rest of the trip I DID IT! I was the last one getting my tent up, but I did it on my own with a little non-help from the beasts (that's when they offer to help, which make it take ten times longer, so you try to be patient and teach them, when what you really want to say is, "Go play in the fire while I get this done"). While there were offers to help me set up, I politely said no thanks. On the canoe trip, I was offered a man to go with us, but I said, "No thanks," again and me and the beasts made it down that river on our own. Well, that's not true, we made it on our own with the help of lots of friends and by the end of the day the single mamas actually saved a life.
The river had class 1 and 2 rapids. For a person who doesn't canoe that is the same as saying the river has blah, blah, blah, and la-di-da class rapids. I had no idea what we were getting into. The class 1 rapids were fun, bumpy and exciting but not too bad. The class 2 well, those were a little more scary. My horrible steering skills ended up to be a stroke of good luck. We hit a rock and got stuck before we hit the worst part. My friend's boyfriend held the boat as water rushed past us and we had to get out and walk. I picked up little beast and twice was swept into the water with her as I slipped on rocks. After my second attempt to get to dry land I stayed put and watched as my Single Mama Savior and another friend came to rescue us.
In our caravan of five boats and a raft three of the boats had braved the rapids and stopped to wait for everyone else to make it. Me and the beasts waited with the other folks while the remaining canoe and raft came down the rapids. Swish, our Sassy Single Mama, her two boys, and a male friend came down the rapids with the raft tethered behind on a rope. Joy and fear mixed on their faces. Eyes as big as saucers they flew down the rapids in their canoe. Then flip, splash, crash they were in the water. They were in the water and trapped. The rope of the raft had trapped my dear Sassy Single Mama (not to be confused with the Savior) friend and one her sons in the boat while the rapids crashed over the overturned canoe and held them under. Before I knew it I was in the water, and there she was, Single Mama Savior, all 5"1" of her,holding the boat up on her back, untangling one boy, holding another up out of the water and yelling for help.
As soon as I reached the boat I held it up so Sassy Mama could breath. I pulled and pulled on the rope as her body twisted against it, straining to get out. All three mamas fought the rapids and the rope until, ping, the rope was cut and Sassy Mama was free. We made it to the bank and recouped, and then all three mamas got our babies, got in our boats and we rode down the river alive and free, stronger than we had thought possible.
On the canoe ride after I repeated a quote I heard somewhere, "Courage is not not being afraid, it is being afraid but doing it anyway." I think both my beasties sat up a little straighter after that, they felt the courage run through them as we continued on the river.
The next day Single Mama Savior and I sat on her porch again and recapped the trip. We talked about the Sassy Mama's canoe flip and did a play by play of what happened each sharing our own perspective. That is when the lusciousness of what had happened seeped into my soul and took my breath away. Three women, who often feel like we are drowning in our single motherhood, were brave. We did not drown. We held each other up, we saved the beasties, and we taught them that mamas can do anything.