08 December 2008

Sunshine: The Re-Mix

I've been dealing with things, that, at times, have seemed insurmountable.

I asked my grandfather a few weeks ago, "You know how most of the time you have a sense of the future, of things to come"? He paused, hesitant to answer the wrong way. "I don't have that anymore. It seems so gray."

Then I veered onto other topics; I'm a dodger, a veer-er, an "I'm fine" type gal. It's a huge flaw, for most often it results in spectacular crashes that probably could have been avoided had I just asked for help.

I felt so overwhelmed that I thought I shouldn't even write here, because it's hard sometimes, to put to paper the reality of how I feel; and who wants to be bombarded with more heavy stuff--we all carry our crosses. I want to be the person helping to carry yours; not adding to the weight.

When I jokingly posted below about Little A's recent health scare, I wrote in jest, trying to plaster a smile over my greatest fear; I do that too; smile when inside I'm on my knees, rocking myself.

As an infant, she quit breathing frequently, due to her prematurity, and she rarely slept. There were monitors and 911 calls and breathing life into her, and me hovering around it all, an outsider looking in, shutting down pieces of myself just so that I could sustain.

I told those closest to me that I felt like possibly her reason for fighting sleep was because she knew on some level that it posed a danger to her. Something intrinsic, perhaps. They said it was my own fear-mongering. Who can blame them, I'm a first-degree worrier, too.

She's not doing well--she's been sick daily, she's sleeping erratically, she's crying when she's awake, almost all the time.

Big A turned ten, and when we were putting the candles on her cake, one of the girls laughed when just the number "1" was on there, while I looked for the "0". "Oh, Big A, are you one"? And at that moment, it was all I could do not to cry.

She was one, once upon a fairy-tale. She loved me then, because she had no idea of my flaws and imperfections. I was her world, and now, on most days, it's all I can be not to be her nemesis. I don't have the time to be the mom that I want to be to her, so I try to eek out what I can, but I know it's just not enough; it's not enough.

I want to give her cupcakes for her birthday that aren't four short for her class--who the hell just assumes that conveniently, there are 24 students, since it's the same amount of batter that you have? I want to give her homemade cookies when she walks in the door, and not sad looks when we arrive home at 7:30 and she asks, "What's for dinner"? and I tell her, "I don't know; I just got here, too". ("This isn't her fault, she's a freaking kid, act like her mother, jennifer, and feed her. Jesus Christ. Seriously, you can't even pull together dinner without feeling like you're drowning?") The person inside of me hates me. I hope she never finds me alone in a dark alley.

Some things have happened at work that I'll have to post about later, if at all. I knew that in this field, nearly all of my clients would have major issues and be in need of massive help. I wanted to do it anyway. I wanted to be the person that made a difference to them; peripherally, it looked light and breezy and lofty; in reality, it's dark and heavy.

Last week I was brutally honest with one of my clients; I told him the job market was the worst in the nation and that with his sporadic work history coupled with violent felonies, his placement could take up to a year, if his counselor approved me working with him that long. Instead of trying to deliver hope, I was purposely trying to make him not believe in what I could do for him.

"It's OK, I'm a changed person. I accept that I have to deal with my past, and I'm grateful that you're willing to work with me, not many people are." Who, in that moment, was helping whom? It wasn't I. He proceeded to leave me a voice mail yesterday, telling me that he just wanted to thank me again, and that he was really looking forward to the future. "Fan mail", joked a colleague, "but I was trying to be mean", I countered. She looked at me and rolled her eyes. "Nice try". There I was, trying to be as dark as I possibly could to him, and somehow, someway, he still felt the sun.

And your light, your compassion; it's given me hope and reminded me of things that, somehow, though I thought they were written on my heart, I forgot.

And now, the dawn, the sun, the comfort that there are hands to hold when it's dark.

And most importantly, hope.

I hope you can feel it, too.


flutter said...

I feel it all over you, babe.

Janet said...

Without hope, what's the point? I'm glad you feel it. And as I read this I kept hearing Paul McCartney crooning in my head:

I don't care if it weighs a ton,
As long as you and I are here, put it there.
Long as you and I are here, put it there.

I'm glad you've got an amazing family that help with the load. And this space, full of sympathetic stranger-friends.

Bon said...

just saying i feel it too, and i'm glad you do right now. we really are here.

and i'm also laughing a little at your work story though i get the darkness in it and the culpability and the overwhelmedness...but hell, Jenn...what can you do when you can't even scare someone away? he's clearly not looking to you to save him. you don't have to. just do what you can.

all around.

best of luck.

painted maypole said...

a beautiful and raw post. i am holding your tender heart in mine, and feeling your hope....

Amy Y said...

Hang in there, Mama.
Hope Lil A is Ok soon... and that you are too.
Both your girls love you and know you're a good mom. I know it's hard to feel that sometimes, but I know it's true. Someday, they'll be able to tell you.
Take care of you... I'm thinking about you.

Scout's Honor said...

I recognize despair and depression when I see it. Been there and am still there. Please hang in.

Sometimes, I know it's hard, but taking the time and giving yourself permission to enjoy one simple pleasure for yourself, without worry, without self-degradation, helps calm the maelstrom building up in your chest and flooding your heart of happiness and your mind of solace.

I sometimes give myself a few minutes to just enjoy the sun on my face. Or, sit in the bathroom away from bickering kids, and eat a piece of chocolate.

Then, there are too many times, like last night, when I find that I'm slapping together sandwiches at 8:30 last night for dinner (husband was at class). Screw it, I suck,I think. I beat myself up and everything becomes overwhelming, but it happens to all moms. Nobody is perfect.

So, last night, I gave myself permission not to worry about mother of the year awards, or bedtimes and just really listen to my kids. Talk like there is no tomorrow. It turned out to be a fabulous winter dinner of cold cut sandwhiches on stale buns and watermelon. Mmmmm...

I wrote recently on my blog that the small stuff counts and I try to remind myself of that when I find myself being a raging bitch-aholic to my eleven year old.

Don't worry about the birthdays so much. So you didn't have enough cupcakes. Make it a joke. Split them in half. Most of the time, the kids eat the frosting and toss them. Alot of kids don't even want them. It's the thought that counts and your heart was there. Don't stress about it.

I can imagine how hard it is to be a single mother because I have been put in that position when my husband was deployed for six months at a time in the Army, not knowing if he would come back safe. It's hard. But it sounds like you have a great support system. Focus on that.

That's what they are there for and you are lucky to have them. It's hard to ask for help. I know. I would much rather be the helper. But, you deserve the help. your girls deserve the help.

Feel better. Sorry for the novel, but your post touched me, and I couldn't just leave a superficial, glib comment.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

You have an amazing support system. Including this blogosphere.
Be well.

Beth said...

Your writing is so honest and so real. I can feel all of your emotions...the fear, the dread, the self-loathing, the pain, the sadness.

But I also feel your hope. Hang on to that hope. Hang on to your daughters. Hang on to your friends and family.

Just hang on.

Susan said...

Thanks for the beauty in your honesty - Please don't feel bad about leaning on the family you have and the strangers here in your computer. That's what we are all here for! By the way, how do you even find the time to post?! I don't know how you do, but I'm glad you do.

Loralee Choate said...

I don't know what I would do without my friends and family.

They are definitely the lighthouses in my darkness.

Kimberly said...

"but only because of my amazing family and friends who went wandering out into the night, lanterns and blankets in hand, beckoning me back, calling "bullshit" to my bluffs,"

God, I love your visuals. You just gave me chills with that one. Take care and don't be so hard on yourself. You are an incredible mother.

Julie Pippert said...

How true and real this is. How much so many of us feel like we need to soldier on solo, all whilst feeling exhausted from it and the giving. We conjure up the ideal in the circumstance we stand in, never considering it is an apple to our orange.

I am glad you have good and supportive family and recognize teh blessing.

I hope your Little A is okay, and wishes of peace and strength to you, too.

It's okay to accept unexpected gifts, you know.

Oh, The Joys said...

Maybe it's a heavy season or something. Things have been heavy, weighted down, for me too.

Thinking of you,

Demand More said...

I just stumbled on your blog today and I just wanted to tell you to hang in there. I've been in that place where nothing is quite bright anymore. Keep holding on to your family, it will get better. Day by day it will get better. Your children will grow up knowing you did your best, you loved them enough to keep going and I promise it wont matter in the long run if you don't bring enough cupcakes or even if you forget them completely. My mother has always faught depression and we remember the good times and the ways she tried her best with what she had.
I also had a preemie son and I know the long nights and fighting the sicknesses over and over will drain you. You will get past this and It does get better.

Anyway, just wanted you to know someone understands. Hang in there.

Christine said...

You've reminded me to continue believing in hope. We all doubt, but we have to keep the faith.

I'm so glad you have such a wonderful family, so many fabulous friends. The A's are lucky to have you, too! Don't forget THAT.

jen said...

oh honey. i think i know. i really think i know. love you.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said...thanks so much for sharing your heart. I have been enjoying your blog, and it does give me hope! Today, I am feeling that anger toward myself as a Mom that you describe so well...I love my two little boys more than words can describe, and often I just see the days/years literally flying past me/us. It's as though I'm in one of those booths that you see on a 'game show'...where there's money flying around the glass booth, and the contestant has to grab as much as they can in a limited time..... Thanks again - I am praying for you and your girls - I believe He has GOOD plans for you! You are lovely - I'm so sorry for the pain you've been through - it's impossible to understand. Blessings!

Christine said...

"I want to be the person helping to carry yours; not adding to the weight."

me too. let us help you carry yours for a while

Running on empty

Anonymous said...

Delurking to send a cyberhug and tell you that you have to know that ALL moms feel inadequate at times. You obviously love your girls, and they love you back. Continue to depend on the blessings that are your family - daughters, sisters, parents, friends, and yes, even stranger-friends. You know you'd do the same for them. Allow yourself the short breaks you can take to re-energize, so you can bring the sunshine back into your own life, and, as a result, back into the lives of all who surround you. Keep writing, though. It's personal reflection at its most powerful.
~~Sending rays of yellow sunshine~~

Ally said...

Jenn, this was so honest, and brave. I'm holding out a lantern, too, and I'm hoping that the one inside that hates you will be afraid of this light.

Andrea said...

Jenn, you are a single mom trying to support a family by yourself. The fact that you needed the help of your sisters with Little A while she's sick isn't a testament to your priorities being backwards because you "couldn't miss work" but a testament to the strength of your bond with your sisters. They wouldn't do it if they didn't want to, if they didn't know what it meant to you that they have your back.

We can't navigate this world alone, much as we'd all sometimes like to believe we're an island.

Your client might have appreciated your being honest with him, even if it was a brutal honesty. If he can have hope and know that despite the knowledge of the hard work ahead of him he's going to overcome his obstacles, then we can too. I often feel overwhelmed at the end of the day, and I snap at Gabe when we walk in the door and I haven't even put down my purse and the diaper bag and the baby's seat before he's demanding something to drink and "can I let the dogs in, Mama, can I? Can I? Pleeeeeeeaaaaaassssseeeeee?" Then I feel bad because I've just yelled at him to have some patience already, that I'd like to get my head on straight before he goes demanding enough to make it spin again.

He still hugs and kisses me at night and says he loves me, despite my flaws. We all manage the best we can. I feel guilty that I haven't been reading books to Gabe at bedtime, but it's a juggling act with getting two kids bathed, pajama'd and getting the baby fed and asleep for the night. I have to compromise. I just can't do it all. You might be thinking, Where's your husband? Well, he's been helping his sister out, renovating a house that will hopefully bring them some cash for their kids' college funds and a little bit of cash our way to help pay off credit cards. He's helping in a different way, a way that requires him to be away from home a lot. It's hard, doing it alone night after night. Cut yourself some slack. You're doing the best you can.

The most well adjusted adults don't proclaim their childhoods blissful because of cupcakes and cookies and Wii's and TVs and stuff provided. They say they had good childhoods because they had loving parents. And you love your girls. They'll grow up knowing and remembering that, even if it's hard at the time of the growing up.

Thinking of you, girl. It is hard, but you're doing just fine. Even if you need help.

Anonymous said...

You are blessed to have so many friends and so much family to wrap their arms around your small family and help to hold you up.

It's hard to believe but we don't have to be everything to our children. It's okay for others to help us.

Hope your baby girl is better soon and I'm sending you a hug sweetie.

Single Mom Seeking said...

You've written about karma before, and you've certainly helped so many human beings -- strangers even. I'm not alone when I'm sending you a virtual hug.

I'm so glad that you're leaning on your sisters. Believe me, I know that it's not easy to ask for help -- bravo for doing that.

Terri said...

keep holding it together - you can do it.

Amanda said...

You do know that one day she is going to pray that she can give her children the mom she had, right?