It is possible that I am typing this post with tears in my eyes. Frustrated, tired, at the end of my rope tears. Not because anything in particular is wrong. Not because I have any real complaints in life. But because I get up everyday thinking I can do it, I can handle it and I can succeed at everything my life entails. But I go to bed every night feeling like I did not do enough, I did not accomplish enough and that I need 15 more hours in the day just to make a dent. I feel like I let everyone down. From my kids to my clients to my dogs to myself. The worst part is, I think people have this image of me as this strong woman who plows through life without fear and with confidence. But the truth is, I am not as Strong as you think I am.
The summer that just ended marked two years since I chose to be a single mom. I have come through a divorce that destroyed any image of being loved and cared for that I ever had in the relationship, the struggles of maintaining a house where there is always something to fix and the financial challenge of being left penniless with three kids needing everything. I have done it. Sometimes with little grace and sometimes with screams that left my throat sore, but I did do it. I did not do it particularly well. I did not always make the best decisions, but I did it.
You would think that just knowing that would give me a skip in my step. An attitude of ‘Bring it on World’ and an arrogant confidence that would carry me through the daily struggles that any mother faces.
But the truth is, instead, I feel like I am drowning. Like I get one thing right in my life and another goes wrong. Like I was so busy paying attention to what was most urgent at the time that the little things that kept me afloat were ignored and are now coming back to remind me of my failures.
The worst times are when my kids are at their dads girlfriend’s house. The house that is usually so full of laughter, chatter, little girl fights and noise is so damned quiet. I can hear things I normally don’t. Like the kick on of the refrigerator and creek of the lazy fan slowly disbursing the still air. Alone with my thoughts, my cell phone still as all of my friends are busy with their own families, surrounded by photos of my life before, my ex with my girls, my girls as babies, a life that was supposed to go on forever… I start to hurt.
Not because I want him back – we could all find a better mate in a rock – but because of all of the change and all of the pain and all of the hurt that I imposed on my kids by even being with him. Because in the two years since the divorce, I have learned that people I thought were friends are most certainly not, that people will say whatever they can to get what they want and that there are cracks in the concrete barricade I have around my heart that allow the little hurts to get in.
Usually, I can buck up buttercup and work through anything that comes my way. I am a child of loss, after all, and though recently I have lost a dear friend from the past in a tragic accident, two friends who, after decades of being pals, decided they would rather not anymore, I have been able to see the rainbows in the cloudy skies.
My kids are happy and healthy for the most part. My bills are paid and those who have shown me they are truly friends are here if I really told them I needed them. My children are my purpose, my work my solace and my desire to maintain a lifestyle of love and fun a dedication.
But something is hampering my ability to be content and happy with myself. Something is in the way that is not allowing me to let the small stuff go and look at the big picture. When I get the girls to bed at night and sit in my own room watching whatever feel good show I can find – let’s face it, there are not many anymore – a sadness envelopes me. I wish I had structured my day better, spent more time with my girls, hugged them one more time, played school for the 7th time in 7 days, created a more memorable childhood for them, folded more laundry, cleaned one more dish, posted one more thing. I let tears fall as I replay everything that happened during the day and berate myself for not getting it all done the right way.
Maybe with all of the change and the settling into a calm, healthier life for me and my kids, the drama in the past and the truths front and center, I am simply finally tired and my body is making me heal. Maybe I am even a little depressed as I never took the time to really hurt for the fantasy which blew up in my face and it is my time. Or maybe this is just motherhood. This constant feeling that you did OK, but not good enough. That there is always a way to do better. Always a time you regret. Always a tear for what was lost while the chaos consumed you.
I am not as strong as you think I am. But I am strong enough for right now. Strong enough to tuck my thoughts and feelings deep in the corner of my mind when I am caring for my kids. Strong enough to let them come out when I am alone and needing to heal. Strong enough to admit that even if I don’t get it right, trying is good enough.
Strong enough to admit that I am human.