I’m a single, stay-at-home mom.

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Yes, that’s right. I’m a single mother and¬†I don’t have a job.

Doesn’t make sense, right?! I’m sure you have many questions, or maybe you don’t have any.

I’m a full-time mother. I have my son five days a week, which equals out to be precisely 71% of the time.

But I’m consciously aware of where he is and who he’s with 100% of the time.

Sure, I could get a part-time weekend job. And I’m planning to. But here’s how it really is:

1. I don’t sit around all day, and I’m not jobless because I’m lazy.

I mean, I’m probably a bit lazy. But who isn’t? I sure as hell don’t just sit around all day without a job because I just don’t feeeel like working. Trust me, I hate working. Or at least I did about two years ago when I last had a “real” job. But sometimes I feel as though working and leaving my son with someone else would be a break for me. “But you get two days off every weekend!” you exclaim. It’s true, I do. But I still make sure I know where Kayde is and who he’s with. A mother’s job is never done, blah blah blah. Sad, but true. And working isn’t the best thing for me right now. Yes, I need more money. But we’re not suffering because of it. Kayde has more than any child would ever need, and he has the best of it all. I find ways to make things work and make ends meet. Besides, if I had a job, I’d just be spending that money on some stranger watching my kid. No thanks.

2. I don’t get to sleep in.

At least not every day. Occasionally, Kayde will snuggle me until almost noon. But that comes with a price; he was probably up every half hour with respiratory issues the night preceding. He also doesn’t go to bed until he chooses (the perks of sharing a room with your mom for the time being), which sometimes means 11pm. This means I don’t go to bed until at least 11pm.

3. I don’t get to shower regularly.

I’m lucky if I get more than four showers in a week. Yes, more than just showering every other day. For example, this week I’ve taken two so far. I know, I’m gross. But when you have no one to watch your child, and he doesn’t go to bed until almost midnight, that’s really your only chance to shower. What’s worse, is that he can sense when I’m not there while he’s asleep, so I have about fifteen minutes before he cries and doesn’t stop until I snuggle him. I’m not capable of fifteen minute showers.

4. I change every diaper, give every bath, and wake up every time.

Besides the one or two days that he spends at his father’s house, I am responsible for everything. That means every morning poop is mine to clean, every bath is mine to give and clean up after, and every time he wakes during the night, I have to wake up as well.

5. He is not my only responsibility.

Not only do I have to be consciously aware of Kayde every second of every day and tend to his every need, but I also have other things to accomplish at the same time. I take college courses online. I somehow manage to do very well in school, while being beat in the leg with a wooden train track. I do the laundry, and the dishes, and clean everything else, while Kayde is behind me making messes. I cook dinner and bake cakes, while Kayde insists he needs to be held every moment that I’m in the kitchen. Not to mention running errands and watching friends’ toddlers.

6. It’s lonely.

Even though I always have Kayde around, I still get lonely. 90% of my conversations are with an almost-two-year-old. The topics and vocabulary are very limited. Sometimes I want a job just so I can have more social interactions with anyone older than twelve. And at the end of the day, when Kayde finally passes out, I have no one to talk to. No one to share my daily experiences with, or share the tasks that come along with caring for a toddler. It’s exhausting, and I’m alone.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Kayde. He is the very best part of me. I wouldn’t change the fact that I have him, and I don’t regret a thing. But it’s not easy, whether you’re with your child’s father or a single mother, whether you work full-time, part-time, or not at all. Raising a child is tough.

I’m not just self-conscious.

feb 2011 jack copy No. I am much MUCH more than that.

I am self-conscious, self-aware, and self-absorbed. In all the worst ways.

Every female I know seems to fit every social anxiety description “to a T”. What I find a bit funny about that, is that every one of them that I know fairly well seems to lack at least half of the things described.

You are not more than self-conscious if you tell me to stop obsessing over what I can and cannot wear, because “confidence will keep people from worrying about how you look”. If that’s how you feel, then you are not suffering.

Relationships and social interactions are not difficult for you if you insist on seeing each of your friends multiple times a week.

You don’t prefer being alone if you can’t even take a break from work without being on the phone with someone the entire time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure everyone suffers from some sort of anxiety at some point in their lives. But you don’t truly know the struggles unless you have experienced the severity of it first hand.

I am so self-conscious that I even question whether I really have anxiety or if I’m just like the people that claim they do for pity or an excuse.

But it’s not merely social anxiety. It feels like I have the worst of it all. I struggle daily from my social fears and body image problems. If you asked a doctor, they’d probably tell you I have Social Anxiety, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Depression, slight OCD, and I’ve struggled with eating disorders since I was 14.

Some days are worse than others. So much worse.

Being alone is almost a death sentence, but also so much easier to deal with than being with others. When I’m alone, I’m left with my thoughts. I pick at every part of me and try to dissect every social interaction I’ve ever experienced. Just a look that I can’t quite figure out the meaning of will send me into a panic. I need constant reassurance that I’m acceptable.

But being in public, whether it’s with close friends that I feel comfortable around or complete strangers, is anxiety inducing. I become hot and cold at the same time. I sweat profusely, while my arms and legs are covered in goosebumps. It isn’t always terrible, but the outcome depends on the event. Grocery shopping isn’t a problem, but a trip to the bar gives me sweaty palms.

I spend hours getting ready, trying to perfect every part of me. I never do, but I try. I make my hair look as best as I can, put on makeup that I rarely wear, and dig through my closet trying to find the most flattering outfit. Even in my most comfortable, baggy clothing, I still am constantly aware of my body and how it may look.

Even at 115 pounds, just 4 pounds away from being underweight and constantly told I look sickly, I couldn’t bare how fat and disgusting I felt.

The hardest part for me, that’s even more difficult to explain, is that I don’t know what I look like. I mean, I have a generalized idea. I know I have dark hair, black hole eyes, and more freckles than one would ever be able to count. But I can’t comprehend my body type or exactly how my face looks. I’ve seen so many different angles and versions of myself that I don’t know which is the most accurate. I ask people all the time if my photos even resemble me, or if I look much better in them than in person. I fear meeting people after they see photos of me, or even seeing someone I haven’t seen in a while. I worry they’ll be disappointed or surprised by how much less attractive I am in person.

I compare myself to everyone, which is pretty typical of a female, but it’s never-ending. I ask if I look like I’d fit in or resemble certain groups or individual people. I have judged every person I’ve ever looked at. It’s not malicious, for the most part. It’s me trying to find where I fit, and mostly¬†trying to conceptualize how I look. It never works though, because nobody can be trusted. If someone says something complimentary to me, I assume they’re saying it to be nice or because they feel sorry for me.

I’m a mess. Just one big mess.

I act cocky at first to hide it, because nobody wants these insecurities, complaints, or constant questions in their life. But I’m not cocky at all, not even confident. And eventually, if you’re around me long enough, it all spills out.

I wouldn’t wish this upon anybody. This is a daily struggle for me. I’ve avoided getting my license, because I don’t trust myself enough to drive. At 22, I just began college classes, but only online courses, because being in school around strangers makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I don’t have a job, because I’m afraid to fail, and I’m not even sure I’d make it past the interview. I’m just too socially awkward. Photography has always been one of my passions, but I stopped doing it and refuse jobs, because I lack the confidence.

I just never feel as though I’m enough. For anything or anyone.

But I’m trying. Even though it’s only online, I’m going to college. I’m forcing myself to accept photography jobs. I’m making plans to meet new people or hangout with old friends. I’m hoping that forcing myself into these situations constantly will get me through it.

I may never be okay with how I look or act, but I’m trying.