I have been quiet for a while. As most of you know this tends to be because i am out living life as much as i can, going on adventures and challenging myself. Whilst this is true, on this occasion its also because i have been exhausted. Too exhausted to sit in front of my laptop and put words next to each other in any way that makes sense.
Dont get me wrong i am lucky that i have been able to get out there in and on the sea, I’ve been to gigs and on trips, I have been volunteering and writing for other sources, helping people when i can. But the over riding thing i have been feeling lately is frustration. I am back in one of those phases where i feel overwhelmed by what is expected of me as a single mother and as a seriously ill woman. I spend my days making a million tiny choices between using my energy to do the washing up or to take the kids out to park, do i go for a swim and take care of myself or do i run the kids about and supervise yet another activity? All I really want to do is sleep, if I’m honest. To just curl up in a ball, hibernating and be left alone for a few days, or weeks…
For whatever reason, I’m not sure why, my offspring always choose these moments of pain, exhaustion and weakness to behave the worst they can, to fight, to answer back, to refuse to listen, to have existential crisis after existential crisis and challenge my patience every second of every day. Just yesterday in a local store, two of them had a huge row that lasted a good ten minutes over who got to hold these paint colour strips. We didn’t even need the aforementioned strips; we were stuck in a Queue to pay for the items we did need and neither of them would let it go. I was tired and fed up with parenting, having been dealing with them doing exactly this over a hundred other things lately. I felt like screaming at them inside, but instead calmly told them to cut it out or else they would be going in the bin (the strips not the kids).
They had already lost their outing that afternoon to soft play, so on this occasion they did in fact tow the line, but why do they have to keep challenging me in the first pace? I find it really hard to understand how otherwise compassionate children of a ill woman who does everything predominately by herself, cant be even a little sensitive to my struggle.
I guess it’s partly because i appear strong- i crack on with whatever i am faced with; but that begs the question when i do ask for help, why do they not take me seriously?
You see there is a downside to this positive, strong exterior- they forget. They forget how ill i am, how much pain i am in everyday, how exhausted i am. Of course i dont want them to worry all the time- thats not what I’m saying at all, i want them to live life as normal children that just happen to have a sick mother, but that said i kinda expected more. I wonder if they are punishing me for choosing to go it alone? I feel like that is what my ex husband is doing, he’s trying to make me break and punishing me for daring to leave our marriage. He said to me on many occasions, you cant cope alone, I’m not having the kids just to help you out.
You chose this.
So I’m loathed to say i struggle, that i find it tough, that no, sometimes i dont cope.
I’m human though right? It’s been 2 years, 24 months, 104 weeks, over 700 days and nights. Every sickness to treat, every appointment to attend, every bill to pay, every tear to wipe, every show to watch, every meal to make , every form to fill, every speck of dust to clean, every nightmare to soothe, every bit of exercise or fresh air to take, every sock to wash, every decision to make, every difficulty to help them overcome.
It’s no wonder I’m shattered when you look at it that way.
Does anyone really feel like they have their life under control the whole time? Are there any parents single or otherwise that feel like they are perfect and dont screw up every other day? Are there any chronically sick people out there that feel they are enough even when in crisis? I wonder if these things I struggle with are normal or are they related to my health and marital status at all?
Speaking to my siblings and friends lately, i figure that I’m not alone, I’m not incompetent at all, I’m ordinary. It’s completely okay to feel this way sometimes. Life as a grown up is tough. Having children is tough. Of course it goes without saying that we are blessed and lucky to have the care of these little souls in our hands, that doesn’t mean its all laughter and smiles though. Is anybody’s life that simple, when you look behind the lense?
I guess the bottom line is, are you doing your best? Do you start each day as a new dawn and a chance to do better than the day before? Do you push yourself to live a better, happier, healthier, fuller life despite your limitations?
Can you look yourself in the eye and say “I’m trying”?
Go and do it right now; what do you see?
I see a woman who has lived. I see a woman still standing. I see a 39 year old mother of 4 in the lines of laughter and age etched on my face. I see a woman who cares deeply about the world she lives in. I see a woman who wants to do better and be a better version of herself.
I see me.
Mama. Wanderer. Adventurer. Thinker. Writer. Volunteer. Teacher.
I don’t see an ill woman. I don’t see a failed marriage. I don’t see all those things i worry about in these fleeting dark moments.
I feel like i am doing the best job i can. I shout and sometimes cry. I have moments of deep despair over my ability to keep going, but i don’t ever just walk out because life’s too tough. I make mistakes. I do and say things and make decisions that I’m not proud of, but i am not ever afraid to say sorry. I don’t quit on myself or my kids even when they drive me potty. I don’t run away, even when inside i want to.
I get up, yet again at 6am to face the day in physical pain, with 4 humans that need me to keep going.
I put one foot in front or another.
Some days simply doing that, is enough.
I. Am. Enough.
2 thoughts on “One foot in front of the other”
I love this post. I understand your struggle so well, although you have some circumstances that I do not. I’m a single parent of a 14 year old boy, I began to get sick in 2012 and became disabled in 2013. I used to wonder a lot when my boy was younger and even now sometimes where his compassion is for me as an ill person. He really didn’t show any compassion until about a year ago and in the last year there are still times when I wish he had more. I used to hide all of my feelings of struggle from him, but when I started to break down at times around him is when he began to show some compassion. This has led me to believe that compassion is a developed trait. Also from the beginning I raised him as if the sun rose and set with him, and didn’t really instill a sense of responsibility in him until he was 11 or 12, mainly because I just always wanted things to be as right as possible for him, and because it was easier for me to do things myself than to struggle with watching him do it wrong or too slowly for my satisfaction. Someone told me once its our kids jobs to test us and that they will constantly test limits because they need to know where the limits are. I tend to believe this. All this aside, raising children as a single parent on top of being chronically ill is the most difficult thing I have ever done. The most important thing I have to do is to keep mindful of where my thoughts are going, as soon as I get hopeless or start thinking that things will always be the same, or if I ponder the unfairness of this situation, I begin to go downhill. You sound like you are doing a good job of keeping your head above water. Kudos to you and to facing yourself in a way that is helpful in a situation that is very difficult. Thanks for sharing this post.
Love you – that is all. You. are. enough. xxx