What do you know? The writing muse struck tonight, which is weird because it is late and all my body is asking for is a long bath and mental oblivion in the really long series I am re-re-re-reading. It has been that kind of week. The kind where I lay in bed and wonder if I can do this. If I can keep my cool enough and be a good mom when I am so emotionally and physically worn out. It's weeks like these that I am acutely aware that I have to be everything to these kids. Mom, dad, good cop, bad cop, cook, teacher, potty trainer, homework helper, cleaner, referee, chauffeur, counselor, disciplinarian, etc. etc. All the little things that the kind offers of help are going to be unable to take off my plate for me. I'm just not used to juggling everything. And it feels so daunting.
Many of my new jobs are things I did anyway, but with the benefit of another pair of hands. It's hard to fix dinner when the baby needs to be held or entertained. It's hard to clean or work when someone is always needing something. There is no one to pick up the slack of things like discipline and bedtime when you get sick and need a pass. I wonder regularly if my everything is going to be good enough for these kids that ARE my everything. Just keeping it together is a triumph for now but I am certain that this excuse is not going to hold water for too much longer.
Awhile ago, when J and I were still in "negotiations" he gravely told me in an effort to explain his decision to choose her over us "I feel like losing her will be losing everything." Nothing he said before or since horrified me as much as that statement. His 'everything' so far consisted of an untried relationship, emails and texts he should never have sent, illicit meetings and lies (probably to both of us). This was compared to a complete home, a life we built, two hilarious boys and a sweet brand new baby daughter, a wife that was willing to go to the moon and back to keep us all together, and every option for a happy future. As tired as I am with the daily grind, I think I can be more sorry for his situation. He surely has "lost everything" by his own choice and wont realize it until it is too late. His children, pure love, light, the chance to serve those he loves daily, self respect and peace are very close to being lost to him. His 'everything' will turn out to be dross he has willingly traded gold for. It makes me sad for all of us, but especially for him. He doesn't get to have the resignation that I do in knowing I gave it my best. He does not get to have that feeling at the end of the day that he triumphed one more time even when the effort was brutal. He has lost what should have been most precious and has gained a lifetime of regret.
I wish he had chosen differently. I'm certain somewhere in him is a better man than that.
He is not a deadbeat dad. He was always the most excellent of daddies while he was here and one of my greatest joys was in watching him interact with our boys. One of my deepest sorrows now is that I wont get to watch him win the heart of our girl. I know for sure that he loves his children as much as he is capable of right now. I used to believe his love for them was as boundless as mine, but his brand of it these days is hurtful and confusing and has sapped all of us of self confidence. Love should make you feel safe. Our children feel anything but safe these days. The nightmares and random concerns have quadrupled. Most nights see a scared boy dashing across the hall to mom's room to get comfort from a bad dream. It happens so often, I cant help but blame our situation. My children deserve real love. Real love puts others first, even when it is hard and you can't be sure you will get anything back from it. The secret though is that when you are willing to love that way, you always get rewarded in turn. There was a time when I would have sworn on my life that he would never make a decision so selfish and that ultimately he loved his family more than himself. I'm still shocked.
More and more I am realizing that my everything will have to be enough and I have to hope that my capacity for it will strengthen like a muscle. Right now it feels like every day is a series of battles to be fought. Some are as mundane as the massive piles of laundry I still haven't quite caught up on since he left, and some are more emotional, such as waiting until the kids are in bed to let the tears go. But I like to think I am winning against the hard things overall, even on weeks like this. I can't afford not to. I can't stick my head in the sand and soothe myself with lies about how everything "is going to work out better this way" just because I wish that my situation was different. My children's father did not want to do what was hard, which means that his children and I have to. But the hard things won't kill me. My everything has to make up for two of us and then some in order to recreate that happy future and I think with some more time and patience and perspective I can do that. I have to.
My everythings deserve it.