Life is weird. It is hard to understand at times. I remember, vaguely, being a child and not really thinking about the amount of time a life was. It wasn’t that I thought I would live forever, but I just never thought about it ending. I guess that’s a good thing.
As I grew older, I just lived each day as it came. I set goals, planned for the future, and dealt with the present. I’ve never been one to dwell on the past or live a life of regrets, I tend to take what I’ve been given and make the most of it.
After Brad died, my life sort of shifted. I guess it would have been impossible for it not to shift. Instead of dealing with life day by day, I had to readjust my lens to see a bit further and deeper. I no longer had someone looking out for my best interest and the best interest of my children. The yoke I had once shared was now moved completely onto my skinny shoulders. True, I had family and faith to support me, but when the day started and ended, it was all on me.
It’s a bittersweet feeling to become a widow. That may seem weird to some, the sweet part, but let me explain. I grew up while I was married. My mom will tell you I’ve always been a mature child, but the bulk of my maturing took place during my marriage. I had on the job training to become a wife, mother, and adult. I think my GPA during those years was a solid 3.5. I was pretty good at it, all things considered.
When Brad died, my tutor, mentor, support, guide, and shield died too. I had to ‘man up’ and put on the big girl/boy pants and take care of my family alone. If you know me at all, you know I don’t dip my toe in things. When I start something, I jump all the way in and get totally into it. This could explain a lot of my money issues, but that’s another vent.
I was 40 and suddenly a single mom. I knew I had to figure out how to take care of them. I jumped into school. I jumped into work. I jumped into the role of caregiver, director, decision maker, bread winner, and protector. It was staggering, confusing, frustrating, and all consuming.
The one big glitch I had in my new role was the fact that I was alone. I was lonely. I desperately wanted someone to be there for ME. I was used to being part of a couple that worked as one. I missed that. But, at the same time, those other roles were dominating my head, heart, and soul. How could I let anyone in when I had to be all those things? How could I be sure that I was letting in someone that would have the same goals, desires, motivations, etc. ? I worried I would mess up my kids alone, but worried more that I would mess them up worse by not being alone.
I met a lot of really great guys. Several of them wanted to marry me. One did. But each relationships, even the short marriage, sent me into a state of anxiety that would drive them away. I felt like I not only had to be perfect for my kids but the person I was with had to be extra perfect. If that was even possible. Every little thing they said or did that wasn’t in line with my visualized path of protecting, guiding, and leading my children to success would cause me stress and make me want to run, run, run. So, I did.
Now, here I sit. seven plus years later, still alone. Still trying to build that perfect bubble of support and direction for my kids to ensure their success. How has it turned out for me? Well, everyone is still alive and kicking, but some are using all their energy to kick against the things I spent my life teaching them. They are struggling more than I’d ever want them to. Some are doing great, and some are just doing.
I have to wonder if, in spite of all my efforts for them, I’ve missed the most important part. I haven’t shown them how to be successful because I’m not. Sure, I had a job I love 99% of the time. I have several degrees. I live in a house I love, with a flourishing garden, and I can fit in my skinny jeans. But, I don’t have friends. I don’t have a support system, and I don’t have someone waiting for me at the end of the day who will take me in their arms and tell me I’m doing a great job, even if I’m not.
What do I wish for my kids? I wish them success, love, and joy. I want them to be strong and courageous; willing to take the risks they come to that will bring them love. I want them to look past my failures and see the potential I may have missed out on by being afraid and do what I couldn’t. If I can’t be an example of what to do, maybe I can be an example of what not to do. Cause I said so.
Photo: Girl with a balloon by Banksy