Picture of Max’s Teeth

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!)


  1. says

    Melissa, you are doing everything right I am sure. I would stay off google and the internet for this advice (way too many bad things said that never happen). Are there any Mommy and me classes near you where the moms can talk while the kids play? I think it would ease your anxiety somewhat. It is a very tough job being single and a parent. But having a partner is not always easy either. Usually the mom does all the worrying on a day to day basis and the dad doesn’t have to worry because the mom is doing it for everyone. I would just rely on your own smartness and in the end all if it works out anyway. I love your stories.

  2. Tashia says

    What Madge said is great advice – although I do tend to Google a lot myself when I’m concerned about something with my daughter, but I have a pretty good idea of how to sort out the good advice and info from the nonsense. I do it all the time for my job. But if Googling isn’t giving you the answers you want/need, or makes you even more concerned than before, I’d advise against it.

    I would also add that you should trust yourself a little more than it seems you do. A lot of what we do as a parent is based on instinct rather than knowledge. Nobody knows your son better than you, including your mom, your sister, and his pediatrician! Of course it’s a good idea to solicit advice and info when there’s a crisis or potential crisis involved, like ingesting Comet. For the more mundane concerns, like teething, while other moms and family members can provide suggestions you might not have thought of trying, you can also rely on your own judgment and common sense about what would help or not help your child, and I bet you will be right!

    I am also a single mother by choice – and while I do wish I had a partner for myself, I honestly think being a single parent has some great advantages over being a partnered parent, in spite of the challenges. You get to decide what’s best for your child, no arguments, no compromises. So many partnered parents spend a lot of time arguing about how to raise their children! And I’m not really sure that having a partner would necessarily ease all your worries that easily. He or she might be just as uncertain and anxious as you are, and therefore no help; or they may not feel the same degree of concern that you do, which can be just as frustrating. And although your status as a single mom could change at any point, there is less risk of your child having to deal with the fallout when Mom and Dad decide they don’t love each other anymore, which happens more often than you might think…

    I feel pretty certain that yes, you would still be Googling things if you were married. Having a partner doesn’t make the wondering and doubts go away. And also having a partner doesn’t mean that he or she will be right there with you every time something happens and you don’t know what to do.

    You seem to have a happy, healthy child, so you must be doing a great job on your own! :)

  3. says

    Thanks Madge for the encouragement! You are right, Google is not my friend. After this past incident, I no longer use it. I know I can call the emergency room if need be. It actually makes me feel a bit better knowing that I can speak to someone, a professional vs., some random person updating the web. =)

    Tashia – You are also right, I need to trust myself more. He’s my first, and I worry just a bit too much about screwing up and scarring him. Though after this weekend, spending it with my brother and his family, it was a nice and welcoming reminder that I know my son best. So the gut feeling I havent been trusting is right once again!

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