M' la.

As the years go by, I forget more and more about what it was like to speak Haitian Kreyol every day. Living and working in Haiti for 6 years taught me a lot about the language, but it’s now been 8 years since I’ve lived there and during that time, I have forgotten much.  Any time I try to speak Kreyol now, lang mwen lou (my tongue is heavy).

But when I am around someone who is Haitian, my memory fires a little bit and I start remembering.  And then there are phrases and expressions that just have stuck with me because of how much more I prefer them to their English counterpart. An example I have been thinking about a lot lately is how in English, when we greet each other with the phrase, “How are you?”, it’s common to answer with some sort of positive phrase, “I’m great” or “Not too bad!” or (if you’re my dad), “Oh, I’m in pretty good shape for the shape I am in.”  

And to be sure, there are affirmative responses to that question in Kreyol too.  But one of the common responses is, “M’ la.” (I’m here). I love that response for the absolute simplicity it communicates as well all the different things it could mean.  

It could be positional, as in, “I am here, not there.”  
It have to do with time, as in, “I am here, present, in this moment.”  
Or it could be more of a statement like, “I am not good, I am not bad, I am here.”

I am almost 9 months into my separation and if someone were to ask me how I am doing, the only response that feels appropriate is, “M’ la.” (I’m here).

I am here (at my apartment), not there in my home.

I am here alone in this moment, not there as a part of a whole.

I am not good, not (usually) bad, per se… I am here.


I have learned neither the science nor the art of being a single mom.  It’s a very clunky proposition for me.  When I have the kids, I have them 100%.  Their need for parenting falls on me.  When I don’t have the kids, they don’t have a need for my parenting.  

It’s very
all or nothing, 
feast or famine, 
the pendulum swung one direction or the other, 
balls to the wall, or staring at the walls. 

I often think about full time single parents, or only parents, and what that must feel like day after aching day of having to keep everything running. So in some ways, my gripes and complaints feel small next to the proposition of being an only parent.  

But I think it’s the contrast that’s chewing me up--it's hard for me to regulate. Not one thing or the other.  



I have neither learned the best ways to be a remote worker.  My desk is three feet from my bed and I don’t have to be on camera for my job.  You would think that would be great— that I could tumble out of bed and right into the chair in my pajamas, get in my 8.5 hours, and then get on with my day.  But I can’t do that.  I need to get up, have my coffee, eat some food, walk the dog.  On good days I get dressed, on great days I shower. My house feels cluttered and messy.  It’s not filthy like in Hoarders.  But it’s not clean either.  There are piles of folded laundry stacked up on the coffee table, something sticky on the counter I keep meaning to wipe up, and an ironing board open in my bathroom since I ironed a shirt two weeks ago. I have no motivation to do what I need to do to to make my space (and, therefore, my mood) shine. Even though I know it will help. But I am taking out my trash, washing my dishes, wearing clean clothes, and occasionally vacuuming— especially when I know the boys are coming over.

I am not succeeding nor am failing at living solo. 



My diet when I don’t have my boys is very much what the kids these days are calling “girl dinner.”  I don’t cook just for myself.  I can’t make myself do it.  So I have girl dinners like cottage cheese, an apple, and some saltines.  Or a pop tart, some leftover greenbeans, and a wedge of cheese. I know I would feel better if I was feeding my body better. And I can make myself do that when the boys are here— I want them to have proper meals.  But when it’s just me, well, it doesn’t feel worth it. I am just very much existing. 

Food isn’t a pleasure or pain to me anymore.  It just is this utilitarian thing I need to do.

M’ la.


I was talking to a friend the other day and I verbalized that I very much feel the absence of being part of a whole— a partner in a marriage, a piece of an intact family puzzle. 

Living this way is a brand new set of skills for me.  And even though, historically, I have taken on new challenges head on, I can’t seem to take this separation with fervor or vigor. I don’t feel all badass or empowered. But I also don’t feel like I am failing.  Flailing, yes, but not failing. I went on to tell my friend, “What I need to do next is decide that I am worth it.  That I am worth putting in the time and the energy to invest in me— that it’s worth doing if it’s just for me.”

And, well, I can see that’s where I need to go. But that recognition, that's going to have to be good enough for now— a first step of sorts.  Because I am definitely not there yet.  

Instead, well, 

M’ la.


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