I have a love/hate relationship with summer. I love summer because I love sunshine, and long hours of daylight. I love the pool, I love getting a tan, I love FlavorIce popsicles, iced coffee and weekend trips. I hate summer because Logan is gone, and it leaves me endless hours to think and be still. And thinking and being still generally translates into a loneliness that hits you deep from inside and makes your heart physically hurt. I spend a lot of time feeling sad and generally hopeless and guilty about the role I’ve played in this unusual and abnormal childhood that Logan has no choice but to participate in. I’m reading a book given to me by my Pastor’s wife, called My Single Mom Life. So far, I haven’t been able to read through a single page without the tears blurring my vision. It’s so therapeutic to read words that I myself could have written and to know that there is indeed another Mom out there that knows exactly what I feel and have felt.
In the book, the author (Angela Thomas in case you’re interested) quotes Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz and To Own a Dragon). Donald Miller was raised by a single mother, and I picked up his To Own a Dragon book once to see what the child of a single mother would have to say. I got a chapter or two in before I had to put it away. It was too painful to read, knowing that his thoughts and feelings would one day be Logan’s. The passage that Angela quoted is the following, “She mothered herself into exhaustion. Weekdays, Mom would work late, often coming home right around our bedtime, and even then we were all too tired to act like a family. I knew, somehow, that my mother’s long working hours were because of my sister and me. But I never thought to ascribe my mother’s emotional and physical exhaustion to the lack of a husband and father, rather, I ascribed it to my existence. There were times, I confess, I wondered if my family would be better off without me. I grew up believing that if I had never been born, things would be easier for the people I loved.”
Talk about knocking the wind out of a person. I don’t think I took a breath for a solid minute. I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t stop wondering if Logan will someday feel this. I have often heard the phrase, “Live in the moment”. I know, without even thinking about it, that I don’t. I don’t live in the moment at all. I haven’t warranted myself that luxury. My mind is running a hundred miles an hour planning, plotting, budgeting, concocting, worrying, crying out to God for relief. I know I’m the Mom who absentmindedly mumbles while Logan excitedly tells me about reaching the next level on a video game, or tells me about his favorite race car. This is not the Mom I want to be. I want to listen, even if I don’t understand or relate to a single word said. I want to stare at his beautiful face, really SEE those little dimples and HEAR everything. I want to internalize it, I want to ask questions, I want to learn about what he loves. But I can’t, because I’m trying to figure out how to stretch my paycheck so the groceries are bought, the power bill is paid and old shoes can be replaced. It’s so exhausting.
I want to be able to trust that God will provide for us daily. That maybe I don’t know where next week’s groceries are coming from, but to be content in what I have today. I have failed at this miserably. I can’t do it. I have absolutely no idea HOW to do it, when there is a child totally dependent on me to take care of him. Worry has become my middle name. It is my modus operandi. And just when I think surely the stress can’t get anymore – that relief must be coming in some form, it doesn’t. It gets worse. I’m not exaggerating, it truly does. My friend Rachel was so kindly allowing me to vent yesterday about my anger with God. How I have lived for 10 years with this unbearable amount of stress. How I would love for some of that to go away. I’m not asking for the nicest car or newest house. I don’t care about fancy jewelry or expensive manicures. But gosh, would it be nice to have someone else to take out the garbage. Or to remember to pay the water bill. How it would be nice just not to be so darn exhausted every second of every day. She told me it would be helpful if I started keeping a list of my blessings. I thought about this. And you know what I said? (CONE OF SAFETY HERE, PLEASE) I want some fun blessings. I do. I know that’s selfish and juvenille and not at all what I SHOULD say…but it’s true. Yes I am blessed to be able to feed and clothe my child. I’m blessed we have a house to live in. I’m blessed to have a vehicle that drives me to work and back. But some fun blessings sprinkled in there would be a welcome addition. I’d love to be able to take a vacation. A real, honest to goodness stay in a hotel and sit on the beach vacation. Or maybe have a 4 door car. (Look, it’s a pain to drive a 2 door and have a child) It’d be nice to just once pay full price for something, and not wait until it goes on 75% off clearance. It’d be wonderful to sleep in ONE day. How does a person rejuvinate themselves to the point they can BE in the moment, when it’s all they can do to simply put one foot in front of the other? These are selfish expectations and they are things I have no right wanting or demanding from God. I recognize this. But I want more for my life, and I want more for my son. I want time with him before it’s too late. I want to be able to attend his field days and pj parties at school. I want to spend a weekend on vacation with him somewhere, making memories he will never forget.
I am worried about the legacy I am leaving for my child. The legacy of a Mom who is absent and tired and constantly stressed. A Mom who can never, ever throw caution to the wind and be spontaneous. I know I am not the only person out there who feels this. I know there are married people who surely feel similar. What struck me last night, after reading Don Miller’s words was that something had to change. Right now, right here, I have to start chipping away at my life and becoming a better Mother. One who is not constantly reactive, but proactive and one that has time and energy for her son.