I’ve been crying a lot lately. I’ve always been the emotional type, but this summer has been extra hard on me.
Back in May, my 3 kids completed preschool, kindergarten, and 8th grade. This triggered some sort of emotional breakdown where I realized that I was just a few months away from spending 40 hours a week in an empty home.
I don’t know what to do with that much freedom.
I can join a book club, have coffee with friends, take college courses on campus rather than online, work outside of the home…I can do anything as long as I do it between 8:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. each day. I can write articles without tuning out the 327th viewing of Trolls or my son’s best Dave Grohl impression. I can join a gym or restart the Couch to 5K plan that I abandoned forever ago.
I can get my hair cut and colored for the first time in 7 years. I can schedule medical appointments and give my healthcare provider my undivided attention as I discuss my symptoms. I can finally get my wisdom teeth removed. I can enjoy a therapeutic massage or attend the physical therapy appointments I was supposed to begin back in April.
I can finally take care of myself after taking care of other people for so long.
I know it’s important to take care of myself. I’m just so exhausted now that I don’t carve out time for self care very often, and I can’t imagine having so much free time to do the things I need to do. It’s extra hard to imagine doing all of these things alone. My youngest has always been my partner in crime when it comes to running errands and attending appointments.
We had so much one-on-one time together while the others attended school. He’s my last baby unless I have more (I’m in my 30s), and it’s hard to say goodbye. I worry that I should have done more…said more…been a better mom. Now we can never do that Mommy and Me yoga class or attend a toddler music program. I taught him how to read when he was 4, and he knows the birthday of every president…but is it enough? Will he do okay in kindergarten?
He’s on an IEP and attended a special preschool that helped him thrive. He received speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy there, and he still receives similar services from a private facility. I worry that he won’t do well in a traditional classroom even though I’ve already met his kindergarten teacher (his brother had the same one) and think she’s great. I’m afraid that elementary school workers – and even his classmates – won’t have the same patience and compassion as the people he met in preschool.
I’m worrying too much, I know.
But it’s hard not to. It’s hard to hand over your child to someone else for nearly 8 hours a day and trust that everything will be fine. I’ve read plenty of horror stories on the Internet about kids (especially ones with special needs) who are bullied or abused at school, and it’s scary. My older 2 kids have survived public school so far, but I still worry.
I always attend class parties and school functions, so maybe that will help ease my mind a bit when the school year begins. The elementary school lets parents eat lunch with their kids whenever they want, so I’m going to do that every few weeks too. I had a blast doing that with his older brother (they’re 18 months apart) this year.
But my sadness and anxiety doesn’t just involve my son.
The rapid approach of the upcoming school year reminds me that I haven’t accomplished numerous goals in my life. It’s a reminder that life on this planet isn’t eternal, and one day I won’t be here anymore. The time is passing so quickly.
My daughter starts high school, and she’s only spent 1.5 years of her entire life living in a house rather than an apartment, condo, or mobile home. I got pregnant with her toward the end of my teen years, and I worked so hard to make sure she had everything she needed. I kept thinking I’d catch up financially one day if I racked up overtime at my job and went to college, but it didn’t happen like that. I had my 2 sons, and then their father left. That cost me thousands and thousands of dollars because I had to go to court against him (worth every penny, of course – I’m not trying to say it wasn’t).
I had a car repossessed. I paid a bunch of money to stop an eviction. I fractured my skull and racked up all kinds of medical bills for various issues over the years. I eventually filed for bankruptcy.
We all have hardships in our lives, though. I just always thought if I worked hard enough, I’d overcome these things and end up with a bank account full of money. I thought I’d trade my mobile home for a traditional house and give my kids everything they wanted. They already have what they need, but I strive to do more. I know that money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it hurts me when I see people shun my kids just because we live in a trailer park. And no, I’m not being paranoid – I’ve actually heard numerous parents and teens make hateful comments about our neighborhood.
And then there’s the issue with my love life.
I thought I’d recover from my failed relationship with my ex faster than I did. I figured I’d move on with someone new and provide a two-parent home for my kids. I didn’t realize that raising 3 kids alone would take so much physical and mental energy that I didn’t want to waste what little free time I had attempting to develop a romantic relationship.
I failed to predict that it would take years to bounce back emotionally after my ex left. It wasn’t about missing him, although obviously I did at first. It was because I mistakenly felt like staying with him was my last chance at having a traditional family. For a long time, I felt like a huge failure because I had 3 kids with 2 guys and couldn’t get either of them to stay.
I realize now that life is better on my own, but sometimes I still feel guilty that I haven’t made more of an effort to find someone. It’ll probably be easier for me to find someone when my kids are older, but I worry that it’ll be harder on them. They’ve gotten used to the life we have together, and so have I. I don’t want to disrupt that.
Pretty soon I’ll actually have time to address all these concerns, and that’s scary.
After I wave goodbye to the school bus, I’ll have an insane amount of free time to get my life in order. I’ll transform from Mom to Missy, and it’s strange to think about that. I can’t even remember the last time someone addressed me by my real name. I’m always “Mom,” “Your mom,” “The boys’ mom,” or “Her mom.” I used to have an identity and a purpose other than parenting, but it’s been so long that I can’t remember what that was like. I mean, I have a successful career as a writer, but even that generally centers around my role as a mom. Heck, I only became a writer because I was a mom and needed a dependable way to earn money from home.
Please don’t misunderstand this post and think that I’m whining about my job as a mom. I love being a parent to my kids, and I’m so thankful I had all these years with them. I just need to work on reclaiming my personality now that they’re growing up, and that’s terrifying. Argh, here I go getting emotional again.
My youngest starts kindergarten in August, and I’m sad. I’m sad because I’ll miss him, and I’m sad that I haven’t accomplished many of the goals I thought I’d complete by now. I guess some part of me saw his admission date to kindergarten as my self-imposed deadline for success. I just want to be a good mom to all 3 of my kids and help them grow up to be happy adults who know they are loved. That pretty much sums up this entire post.