It’s been nearly a month since I’ve had the house to myself. After many months of being separated but sharing the same living space, my kids’ dad moved out to his own place and I officially became a single parent. I felt both relieved and lost when I was finally on my own. I felt relieved in that the constant tension was over, but lost because my children would no longer be with me 100% of the time. Out of love for them, I avoided a custody battle. We didn’t go to court. And so I agreed to share custody 50/50. They are with me for a week and then with their dad for a week. The weeks they are gone, I miss them so much. I will miss 50% of the rest of their childhoods. And they will miss having their mom there every day.
So I’ve been sad. It’s as if my life has been falling apart before my eyes in slow-motion for the past 6 months. It’s now a million little bits swirling in a wind of confusion around me. Every day I keep trying to grab hold of the pieces and force them back together into something that resembles wholeness. The family I tried for 13 years to build and nurture is now gone. I did it. I broke the illusion. I smashed it. Now my task is to build something new and better. However, I am worn right down. I feel damaged and scarred. Each little step toward the better feels daunting.
You could say I am a bit of a hot mess. In fact, some might say I am at hot mess level: tire fire. For example, this past Sunday evening at 8:30 pm I realized I needed to buy groceries for the coming week. I took the three rather over-tired children to the supermarket and loaded up on necessities. After I got home and unloaded the car, I remembered I had to take the garbage and recycling out. There was a lot because I had forgotten to put it out the previous week. By the time I was done, it was dark and time to tuck the smallest children into bed. When I was finally done that, I collapsed on the couch and dozed off. About an hour later I awoke and remembered that I had not put the groceries away! However, my eldest child reassured me that she had taken it upon herself to put the cold foods away for me. With that I drifted back off to sleep.
In the morning I went into the kitchen to find all of the perishable food sitting out…except for the eggs and milk…which the eldest child had thoughtfully put in the fridge. It appeared we had had a small miscommunication. Of course, I didn’t blame her, I blamed myself for not just putting the darn groceries away when I should have.
At that point I may have shouted “fuck my fucking life!” no less than three times as I tossed the spoiled food into the trash. Not only did I have to throw about $50.00 worth of groceries away, but I didn’t have anything to make sandwiches for the kids school lunches. I went to the fridge and found some bologna. I thought to myself “bologna is good forever, right? This should be fine” and made the kids and myself some sandwiches. Once I had finally gotten the kids to school (late as usual) I hurried off to work, questionably-fresh bologna sandwich in hand.
It’s been nearly a month of feeling as if I’m teetering on the brink of failure on a daily basis. I now have a big house to pay for and take care of on my own and a heartache 50% of the time. Pieces of my old life are scattered around my feet. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
At moments such as these I must decide if I’m going to just plop down on the floor and cry, or take a bite of my sandwich and soldier the fuck on. The sad voice inside of me says “take a day off. Crawl back into bed and just give up for today. It’s too hard!” But the voices of my kids ring in my ears “you’re the best mom ever! I love you mom!” and that gives me all the motivation I need to dust myself off and keep going.