Monday, October 26, 2009

Learn to be lonely

What can I do for you?

I hear this phrase so often these days and I never take for granted that the asker means what they say. I just wish there was something. I am not entirely without the need for help, but I know that the battle is mine from here on out. I have had more offers of babysitting than I know what to do with, but if anything, I have too much free time on my hands these days. It's feast or famine kid-wise. It's a reminder of my new life when they are gone with their dad and also one when they are here. Neither option is ideal.

I spent enough years being single to know that I was okay on my own if I chose not to get married. However, what I would have done as a single woman is different than my options as a single mommy. I thought I had my future in the bag and was content with that future, but it's been wiped clean and I am back to square one (except with children to care for as well) and I have never been so terrified of the future in my life. My children are the best reason for me to put one foot in front of the other and I will continue to do it, but there is no doubt that single parent loneliness is unlike any other kind. Once you have felt like part of a team, it is difficult to go back to being alone. I understand why parents are supposed to come as pairs. Although I definitely miss someone on hand to help with the day to day nuts and bolts of the actual raising of these kids, what I miss far more is someone to share the joy of them. A dozen times a day, I find myself mentally filing away a funny comment from or observation about the kids only to remember with all the gentleness of a sledgehammer that I have no partner to tell. I have finally trained myself to stop reaching for the phone to text the random kid-isms to the one person who would care most to hear them. I have kind and patient family members and friends who listen to me throughout the day but it does not bring the same satisfaction as sharing a "parent moment." Sis's day to day changes are observed only by me and I don't really like the fact that I am the only adult in the world that she instantly lights up for. She should know her daddy that well too. And she never will.

I'm hoping that I can master being lonely. I hope I can learn to not mind going to bed and waking up alone. I hope that in time, the 5-7 o'clock hour can come and pass without me thinking that most everywhere else, families are going to be watching the door for dad's (and moms, mak...) to walk through them. I hope that I can go through a weekend and want to go out with friends without the downer at the end of the night of realizing that everyone else is going home to somebody. Good friends and family are a wonderful distraction, but don't quite take the place of that one person who is supposed to love you best. I hope that I can go to the store or any other public place and see all the complete families and not feel jealous of them and regretful that I did not appreciate enough what I had when I had it, and stupid that I somehow lost it (in that order). I hope that soon it will not rip at my heart to hear one of my boys casually say something about "when dad comes home." I hope that someday I can forgive myself for being part, even in an innocent way, of giving my children no memories of a unified nuclear family. All they will ever remember is this. I hope I can handle the guilt if they grow up and do something to fracture their own families. I hope that I can soon not feel like being a single mom is painted all over me and that people can tell when they look at me that for whatever reason, I was unable to "hang on to my man". It had never occurred to me to have anything but enormous respect for others who raised their children as a single parent, but I am finding that I am embarrassed to be one myself.

(And I am embarrassed that I feel that way. It's not an emotion that I expected).

I have been told by many that I have a "beautiful life" ahead of me and I am hanging onto that idea like a life raft, but I have to admit I have yet to see land in sight. It has been suggested by some that I will look back and feel like I "dodged a bullet" in hindsight, but it's ironic how much it feels like I am the one who has been shot down. I don't feel like I dodged anything and can't imagine feeling that this is for the best. All I can do is make the best of it.

Despite this, I know positive steps are being taken even if I can't feel the effect of them yet. There needs to come a day when getting out of bed is not a victory, but routine. There needs to come a day when I think about my old life a lot less than I do. There needs to come a day when the kids stop asking about their dad daily and we all accept that he has truly moved on. There needs to come a day when it is not so painful to breathe. There definitely needs to come a time when I am at peace with my life no matter what it is and when I can imagine a different daddy/companion in our home. I am moving forward under the assumption that every time I put one foot in front of the other I am that much closer to that day.

I've been thrown into the deep end of a sink or swim situation and I intend to swim like there is a fabulous tomorrow. However, I am acutely aware that this is a solo swim. I may take advantage of a life preserver now and then, but I won't get anywhere if I don't do the kicking. To everyone that has helped carry me this far, please don't be offended if I refuse your life preserver. Just know that I have to see how far I can go. And that I refuse to sink. And that I am not too proud to ask for help.

Swimming or stepping, I am taking it on faith that I will get there because the people who tell me so love me and I trust them. I am giving hard weeks like this one up to God because I have felt my burden lift when I needed it most. It's still a struggle, but not one that will break me as long as I keep doing what I'm doing.

There is every hope that tomorrow will be the day that things start to feel better.