Monday, April 3, 2017

Survival Mode

Today, I met with my accountant to have my taxes done.  My hope was just to drop them and run, but he sat me down to get the basics of my financial situation.  As I sat there blindsidedly explaining that I have been a stay-at-home mom for 13 years, and that I am newly single after 14 years and trying to get back on my feet and care for my 4 kids, and that we were never married so basically since I gave up and walked away, I now have nothing but my 4 precious children to show for my wholeheartedly devoting every moment of my life to raising my kids.  Nothing.  

When I broke, and left, and walked away from a very comfortable but love-lacking life, it was so necessary that I didn’t even care.  The fact that I had finally come to terms with the fact that he couldn’t love me like I needed,  the idea that I might one day find that love, the fact that I had my children, the fact that I had the pleasure of being home with them for over a decade while they were young and oh so precious,  all of that was enough.  I had been very blessed in many ways and it was priceless, but costs me a lot.  

I have a new found happiness.  It is liberating to let go of something I was holding on to with every fiber of my being but still never really had.   And I try very hard to focus on that, the silver lining to some dark, dark clouds.  But every so often, I’m forced to stand right under those clouds and endure the storm for a moment, like it or not.   Recently, I went to be interviewed for a job subbing at my childrens school.  The very first thing my interviewer mentioned was that I, unfortunately, did not have much recent work experience.  I was aware I would never be welcomed into the cold corporate world with my decade plus experience in full time child-rearing and housework, but to think that my devotion to children and the fact that I have four of them which is practically a classroom full, may not qualify for so much as working in a school hit  me like a lightening bolt.  But this is my reality now.  In this society, devoting myself to being a good mother and psuedo-wife makes me incredibly blessed and fortunate and entirely unqualified for anything else.  And the fact that I was ok not being worthy of marriage all those years leaves me entriley screwed.  Lucky me.  
But I do feel lucky…and hopeful, and optimistic.  And even though I explained my bleak financial reality to my accountant in the most positive and matter-of-fact and optimistic way, the storm clouds came as he looked at me and said “My dear, my heart breaks for you.  And every inch of your body language tells me you are in survival mode.”   And the thunder rolls…

It’s important to look on the bright side.  I am a hopeless optimist.  But these reality checks are important sometimes.  They serve as those little pushes I need to pick myself up and dust myself off.  They remind me that I do not deserve to walk away from everything I put into my family and our life with nothing, and that if there is only one way to fight for what I’m really worth, I have to stop being afraid. They help me to dig deeper.  

I am indeed in survival mode.  I’m trying to dig myself out of some very deep holes I have dug for myself despite all my best intentions, and I am standing in storm after storm, but I can see the silver lining, and I will survive.   

Thursday, February 16, 2017

One year later...

One year later…

I’ve learned that failure is an option.  That my best intentions do not guarantee a perfect outcome, and loving with all my heart and soul does not promise the same.  I’ve learned that no love at all is better than unrequited love.   I’ve learned that I’m very lovable and it’s his loss.  I’m very lovable.

I’ve learned that at my weakest, with a broken heart and shattered, defeated spirit, I can charge through the darkest battles with four kids in protective tow.  I can hit rock bottom and bounce right back.  

I've learned that when I'm hurt, I can be very stubborn when I should be courageous, but I tend to come around.  

I’ve learned that fathers will never ever let their little girls down, and that the more you say “Dad, I’m fine.  Please don’t worry about me”  the more sleep Dad loses at night.  

I’ve learned that my children are resilient and strong and open minded and observant.  I couldn’t explain why I shattered our perfect family a year ago, despite my agonizing, tearful attempts.  But I think that now that I can’t be with them every moment, distracting them from some of the painfully obvious imperfections in our family, the more they understand why I walked away from the man I loved so hard for so long.  I like to think all of my praying and pleading that my children would learn that I walked away from my relationship and not our family has paid off.  They know why I’m not there.  They know I’m here.  I have always been here.  I will always be here.  I also like to think that we have all learned a few lessons in love; how to love and be loved.  Love it or lose it. 

I’ve learned that it is very difficult to get back on my feet after 12 years of raising kids and depending on a very strong, capable, hard working man.  It’s also very terrifying.  It’s also life changing and liberating.  I have the power to hold out for a most powerful and satisfying yet insatiably passionate love.  Somehow it makes me feel fearless.  

I’ve learned that I’m a lover.  It’s what I do.  I love people.  I’m passionate about it.  I pour my loving, generous soul into making my loved ones feel loved.  And I don’t really ask for much in return.  Raising kids is a thoroughly selfless and thankless job.  But if there is one thing I know for absolute certain, it’s that my babies love and adore and appreciate me more than anyone else in the whole wide world.  They can’t get enough of me.  It’s smothering and sometimes I think it might kill me, but it’s my absolute favorite thing in the world.  There is something far more tolerable and satisfying about the suffocating, ungrateful love and adoration of my children that seems more fixable than 14 years of unrequited love from the man I gave my all.  I’m too lovable for unrequited love. 
I’ve learned that I am my own worst enemy when I am heartbroken, and that even at the age of 40, I can still make some devastating, heartless mistakes and hurt people I love most in the world.  The kind of mistake that, when forgiven, reminds you that love is essential.  Love is friendship.  Love is all around.  Love is forever.  Love conquers all.  

I've learned that we are all in need of forgiveness.  To forgive, to be forgiven, to heal.  And this year, the universe, in it’s infinite wisdom, taught me a lesson about forgiveness that unleashed a ripple effect among my loved ones that tore us down just to set us up to rebuild, stronger.  i've learned to trust the universe.

I’ve learned that there are some very angry people out there.  People who will take your best intentions and weakest moment and use them to their advantage and your detrement.  Just because.  But…forgiveness. 

I’ve learned that some friendships are literally like life lines that get tattooed on our destiny for better or worse.  Eternal friendship.  

I've learned that Mr. Perfect is out there.  That mutual passion is out there.  That some men are not afraid of 4 kids.  That I'm worthy of hearing "I love you" and seeing it in his eyes.  That I'm not ready for Mr. Perfect yet. 

I've learned that the most improbable, unexpected and nonsensical events can be dead on.  

I’ve learned that some things are inevitable because the universe says so.  And that the more I tell the universe that I’m’ not going to do something, the more it reminds me not to give up on love.  The more I insist that my shattered heart is ice cold, the more the universe reminds me that I am a lover by nature.  The more I resent never having  heard “I love you” and swearing that I don’t want it anymore anyway, the more the universe hands it me and challenges me to know what to do with it now.  I am lovable.  I’m a lover.  Love is inevitable for me…


Friday, January 13, 2017

Lessons (and Blessings) from the Pediatric Wing

There is a lot to be learned when you spend an unanticipated 5 days in the hospital with your 7 year old son with a broken arm, a bone infection, and the patience of…a 7 year old.  It would be easy to feel sorry for ourselves.  And while one of us did understandably pity himself, I found myself humbled by just how fortunate we really are.  Even our most unfortunate circumstances can shed some positive perspective on the bigger picture.  

As I sat (and sat and sat and sat) in that hospital room with  my grumpy son, and endured his abuse as he barked orders at me and insisted I was falling short in every way and that it was all my fault that they wouldn’t let him go home, all while we both knew that there was no one else in the whole wide world he wanted by his side than his flawed and infinitley patient mommy, I was reminded, everywhere I looked, that things could be much, much worse. 

It all began when our 16 year old roomate joined us.  His father and sister dropped him off for a stomach issue.  As I sat on the other side of our curtian divider, drowning in their stench of what could only be described as a chain smoking, filthy old kitty litter box, I listened to the nurses ask their millions of questions and made a few humbling discoveries right away; He and his barely older sister live alone together, mom is barely in the picture at all, and dad couldn’t get out there fast enough, and would “come back for him when they were ready to let him out”.  Otherwise, this kid was on his own.  And for the next three days, he laid there, alone, with what I can only imagine were his only constants in life, video games, and that stench, 

Now, while a different kind of person may have thrown a fit about having to share a room with that odor and its attached sad reality, I couldn’t bear the thought of this boy being put in a room anymore empty and lonely than his life already appeared to be.  So I sucked it up (while trying not to breath unless my life depended on it.  It's as hard as it sounds).  

I had high hopes that this smelly experiece could somehow serve as a teachable moment for my son.  I knew it would be heartbreaking to watch his family NOT show up or even call day after day.  But I thought it might help my cranky, meaner than usual, impossible to please son, realize how lucky he was.  It didn’t.  He was unphased, because he’s 7 and all.  The misfortunes of our roomate did not overshadow the needles and medicines and procedures and inedible hospital food and unfortunate diagnosis that led to day after day of “sorry kid, you can’t leave yet.”  I didn’t blame him for his lack of compassion.  He was enduring a lot.  And between the curtain seperating us from each other, the body’s ability to grow accustome to fowl odor, and the heartbreaking silence of our roomate’s loneliness, I suppose it was all too easy for my son to pretend he was the only poor kid in the room.  

By the 3 or 4th day of being a dedicated, doting, loving, failure of a mother in the ungrateful eyes of my son, and listening to his pity parties every few minutes, and his harsh critiques of my every unconditional-love filled move, I started shooting him some serious glaring, warning looks.   I was hoping he would somehow hear my unspoken lecture shooting out of my eyes.  Every time he asked to go home and was told no and responded with an “I hate my life!”, my teeth would clench and my eyes would fill with words I needed him to see, because screaming “why don’t you count your blessings that you’re not the little baby next door who just had brain surgery, or the newborn baby down the hall who hasn’t even gotten to go home yet because she’s too sick, or the kids who are so sick they can’t even get out of bed, or the kids who have been here for months, or the kid who’s parents don’t even care enough to visit or call!” would  be insensitive to the children and parents who were living in that reality.  As if they needed a reminder that they were worse off than us.  

My son didn’t see a single word of my silent lecture screaming from my eyes.  And a part of me started wishing and hoping that our lonely neighbor behind the curtain was growing tired of listening to my ungrateful boy not appreciate his mother and her unyielding efforts to meet his every want and need.  I began wishifully thinking that he would suddenly snap and start spewing words of wisdom from behind that curtain like the great and powerful Wizard of the Pediatric Wing that went something like:

"hey kid, do you know how lucky you are to have two parents who have been by your side every single second doing everything and anything they can for you?! If I were you I would stop being such an ungrateful little *******!”   

But he remained as silent about my bratty kid as we did about his odor.  

Aside from my sleepless first night on a broken, non-reclining recliner, and in spite of my understandaly miserable, thankless child, I tried not to complain too much.  Because if there is one things to be learned in the pediatric wing of hospital, it is that, if you’re lucky, things could be much, much worse.  We were lucky.

We’ve got a long road ahead of us.  And I hate what my boy is going through this.   But I hope that one day, he looks back and remembers the sick kids who were stuck there through no fault of their own, (and not because they chose to jump off the top of a playground), or the kids who were not even aware that there was a world beyond those hospital doors, or the boy who’s parents didn’t care enough to be there, and maybe even his own parents, who were there every second, and who would have taken his place in that hospital bed if they could have.  I will never forget.  Blessed.