Most of you know that I am a single parent. From mid-June to mid-August, my sons visit their father 700 miles away, and I get a much-needed break. I get some extra work done, take trips, and get a little time to myself – and time to miss my boys like crazy. Two months is too long of a break if you ask me, but we’ve been doing this for nearly eight years, so we deal with it.
But those ten months – from mid-August to mid-June – are all me. I am a full-time SP of two. Some days it feels impossible to fit it all in. Some weeks are so full that I feel like I just can’t do it anymore. I finally reach Friday night and collapse on the couch with a glass of wine and stare at the TV because I can’t even think straight. And so, I’ve written a bit about single parenting, including my 5 tips for single parenting with autism. When I think of that post it makes me laugh (hysterically) because it’s so difficult for me to do the things I am suggesting that other people do! Not practicing what I preach in that regard, that’s for sure. I never applied for respite. Ever. Missed that boat. My life feels so disorganized. I don’t have time to exercise. Sometimes I fear that I’m a walking “before” photo of a nervous breakdown.
So it doesn’t surprise me that last week, after trying to cram a bunch of errands in one fell swoop, I forgot the toilet paper. Not just as in “I went to the store and forgot to buy toilet paper,” but as in “I bought toilet paper at the store and forgot to bring it home.” And it took me eight days to remember that I forgot it. I was going through my wallet full of receipts at the end of the week and saw it on the receipt – a 12-pack of Scott’s 1000-sheet rolls. I get that kind because it lasts longer, so I have to buy toilet paper less often. So infrequently, in fact, that when I do buy it I just leave it on the bottom rack of the cart in the parking lot. And then I drive away. And I don’t remember that I left it in the parking lot until eight days later when I see it on the receipt and realize that I don’t remember bringing the large package into the house. No recollection whatsoever. Here I am, in the store, so proud of myself for thinking ahead because I don’t need toilet paper yet, we’re only half-way through the current 12-pack, but it’s on sale for a fantastic price, like, half what I usually pay, so I put it on the bottom rack. I am careful to mention it to the checker so that he rings it up and I pay for it, but then I promptly forget about it.
Oh, eff me, I mutter at the receipt. It’s not like it was a huge financial loss, but I just think, really? I try to get ahead of the game and this is where it gets me. I briefly consider calling the grocery store to explain what happened, to ask if maybe one of their courtesy clerks remembered seeing an abandoned multi-pack of toilet paper when corralling the carts. Eight days ago. I dismiss it – like I have time to do that in the first place. Chalk it up to loss – one 12-pack of Scott and my semblance of sanity. I’ve had to let go of worse.
But my subconscious, it would seem, will not let it go. Unbeknownst to me, my subconscious ruminates for a few more days. It thinks, Yes, she’s got a lot on her mind, a lot on her plate, but this isn’t the worst shape she’s ever been in. Surely she didn’t leave the toilet paper on the bottom rack of the cart in the parking lot. My subconscious works on this for three days, apparently, and then all of a sudden, while sitting in front of my computer and not thinking about the toilet paper, something pops into my head. A flash of memory: I am putting the toilet paper on top of the vacuum cleaner because there is no room on the shelf where I usually store it. I gasp and run down the hallway to the closet where I keep the vacuum cleaner. I rip open the door and there is the Scott 12-pack, sitting on top of the vacuum cleaner. And I laugh.
I laugh because I realize, once again, that it’s not as bad as it seems. I may not be exercising yet (must get back into yoga), and I sure need to organize my time better (life coach, maybe?), but I think I’ve got a handle on things. If I can remember something as insignificant as the toilet paper I thought I forgot, I’m doing all right. Right? I can do this. I can do this with my eyes closed, it would seem. Some days, at least.