There is a certain amount of strength that comes from being alone. The decisions that effect the well-being of your children, your family, are solely up to you. The future lies in the aftermath of your choices and you see them as cataract eyes see fireworks in car headlights at night. Everything is too bright. You blink and squint, but it’s all just so fuzzy.
Parenting alone is no easy feat. Hats off to single moms, and dads, who need to both mother and father their young from inside a bubble of self-doubt, guilt and worry. I have lived in that bubble and it fills so fast with fear, dirty diapers and sometimes cuss words that you are no longer a person, but a hamster in a wheel. Trying desperately to gain momentum, watching the world’s flashes of color spin by while you remain stagnant and out of breath.
During the time I was a new Military wife, flying solo, building my village, I have very few memories. People have asked me, that most annoying question, “How did you do it?” and have said to me countless times, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle!” First off, I believe God gave me way more than I can handle to teach me a valuable lesson. No one is a superhero, including me. As a self-proclaimed introvert, a loner if you will, he threw so much at me that I could no longer carry it all on my own. He made me reach out, ask for help, find people (my people) to help me bear the load. And I didn’t do it, we did. On coffee and wine, (for my fellow villagers, not my children, let’s be clear) we survived just fine. He made me lean on him.
To be honest, it does bother me a bit that I have so few memories. The ones I do have are yellow tinted and desolate, like a photograph with the corned turned up, faded and out of focus.
Sitting on my bedroom floor, sobbing, stuffing brightly colored plastic eggs, while my new baby, who looks like an orange glow-worm, is sleeping on my bed wrapped in a bilirubin blanket. I wish I could remember why I was sobbing. Aside from the usual, exhaustion, missing my hubby, overwhelmed by thought of those to-do lists yet to be tackled, the laundry accumulating like an insurmountable peak, suggesting life isn’t really wondrous. It taunts me to try to stand. Rise up. Yet it’s just waiting to wrap me up in a suffocating embrace, failure is a new-found friend.
I remember standing at the stove, buttering bread for grilled cheese with one hand, creating holes with the weight of the knife. In the other I held my son like a running back grips the ball, while he nursed, my phone in the crook of my neck. I can not remember who i was talking to or what about, just that this was the beginning of multitasking like a boss. The beginning of forgetting. The get it done, not do it well, mentality. The autopilot phase.
There are some photos, proof that I was trying. Even now, so many years later, I think, trying to do what? It. All of it. All the time. All the things. The pretty on paper things and the last-minute, Oh crap! things. The running, the crafting, the baking and making and taking, the shopping, there was no rest. There was only collapse. There were heavy sobs and headache, a very simple phrase put on my heart. Human Being. You are a human being. Not a human doing. Just be.
I had let Nike win my heart over God.
It has been six years since my amnesia phase and I would love to say that I am cured! That I take it all in everyday. No longer missing the moments. Storing memories like an animal on the brink of hibernation. It’s a journey and being aware of what we are missing when constant things circle, vultures calling of our attention, has helped.
The healing comes in unsuspecting moments. When your daughter has a story to tell and you are already late to go to something. When you stop and look her in the eye as she admires her art project. She explains that messing up on the nose of the cat mask that she holds before you, was the best thing ever. It make her rethink what she wanted the end product to look like and because of her mistake, the cat has an even better and more unique nose shape now.
Oh, my wise child. The cat mask is amazing. As are you. Stopping for that story made all the difference. Mistakes have the power to reshape us. Our attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and even our hearts can be changed, good or bad. I like to believe for the better. Creating our own more unique shape.
On this Throwback Thursday, I am reminded that the past has indeed molded us, but it does not define us. We can put down some things and free our hands, so are able to hold the best things. Things that need to be handled with care. Along the path that lacks memories, from the human doing years, does not have to be where I build my home.
The tune on my heart today softly sings, “Let your weary spirit rest, lay down what’s good and find what’s best, just breathe.”