Picture of Max’s Teeth

The Next Family

By: Melissa Mensavage


I’ll never forget; it was October 25th, 2010 when I felt the first tooth starting to break through the bottom gum line.  I was shocked.  I knew the teeth were going to come, but had no clue on the whole process –from providing relief to behavior changes.  In typical ‘I need answers now’ fashion, I enlisted the internet, and my mother for the answers.  Both of which can be helpful, yet never make me feel confident in what to do.

Recently, I pulled out my list of Single Mother by Choice Pros/Cons I put together during the ‘thinking’ era to see if there was an entry for illnesses/teething.  Nope.  Not sure why I didn’t think of that because it’s a big part of raising a child and can be serious at times.  Luckily, Max has only been plagued with the usual colds, flus, and typical teething symptoms.  However, what I have been plagued with is a complete different story.

Guilt, anxiety, insecurity, and clueless is a good summary.  Each time Max has something or does something I am at the laptop googl’ing.  In one of my recent google searches on the effects of ingesting Comet, I had a thought, would I be doing this if I were married?

After the Comet crisis was diverted and I was relaxing in bed, that ‘married’ thought came back.  I thought back on all my worries, and noticed a pattern – googl’ing and calling mother and/or sister.  It became clear I am a single parent.  And even more clear I don’t have a partner to bounce my concerns off of.  I don’t have someone to say, ‘you cant catch cerebral palsy’.  I don’t have someone that will hug me during a meltdown because parenting is an overwhelming job.

Technically I do – my mother and my sister – but it’s not the same as having a husband (or even a boyfriend), someone who is there with you.  Someone that knows you so well they refrain from laughing when you say, ‘he’s behind in his raspberries’.

I knew when I committed to becoming a single parent I would be the responsible party for raising the child, teaching them to make good decisions and supporting them through life’s lessons.  What I didn’t know was all the stress and anxiety that comes along with it.  I am okay with doing all the work, and slowly learning how to deal with the stress and anxiety by myself.

When I find parenting challenging, I pray for strength to get through it.  I have been weeding my way through the illnesses and teething, obsessively scouring the internet, exceeding my minutes on my phone with all the calls to Mom, and sister and sure enough, the worries subside.  It’s like a cycle or a dance I go through each time, only to find that things are normal, development is normal and that I am suffering from new parent syndrome, with a splash of single.

(FYI – ingesting Comet, though highly not recommended, has mild effects and usually passes in a couple of hours. Thankfully we did not experience any of that!)

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