Day #17 of 21 Days to Disciplined Writing
Good Morning Carol Anne,
If you are anything like me, there were some instances where you really blew it. You may have missed an opportunity, promised a family member something and failed to deliver, or just flat out didn't do anything you planned to do.
Today, we are going to write about disappointment. This isn't an exercise where we beat down on ourselves, but instead, I want you to just write the story, talk candidly about what happened, and let us all learn with you. How can we still find hope after such disappointment? Talk about lessons learned and hope that comes from it.
Talk about the pain, then talk about hope and moving forward.
Cheers to learning from failures and turning them in to hopes.
Day #16 and you are still pushing us, teasing us to reveal the truth that seems to be up under the truths we tell in polite company. This here truth I'm about to share is the truth I don't tell, even in not-so-polite company. It’s the truth one might tell your mom, if you had that kind of relationship, or the truth you tell your confessor or the truth you tell the drunk guy at the bar who won’t remember or care or the the truth you tell the lady at the bus stop whom you will never see again.
This truth I'm about to tell is not that caramel covered sundae that charms the world. It is the naked, unadulterated truth.
Camari, this one is going to be hard but I am going to do it. Here I go…holding my nose, jumping in.
I wasn’t always the best mother.
Often times I let my work get in the way. I was a single mom when my children were 11 and 9 so there was a lot of hustling and bustling around ensuring that they would get what they needed and trying to balance that my workplace would get what it needed.
Before my husband and I split we were an intact family. The kids were well cared for, I the dutiful mom, full of responsibility, Girl Scout leader, room mother, holiday maven, birthday party queen. The focus of my time was my girls and my husband. This was good, yes, but it also was unfair to my children in that they came to expect that their lives would be a certain way. They had a “normal” family, normal parents, normal routines and school activities and friends on the block and parents visiting friends and, well, they came to believe that the life they lived was what one might see on television as “normal.”
After the split I think I went crazy. I began to go out more. When the girls were with their dad I drank a little more than I should and I wanted to spend time with my new group of friends. I wanted to be free. It seemed I wanted to be free of not just him but my girls as well.
I did and I didn’t. I wanted the children but I didn’t want the responsibility. Being alone created such a sense of burden that I believed I couldn’t manage it by myself. After my husband and I split I floundered, literally, flipping and flopping like a fish out of water, untethered and ungrounded. I had a responsible position as a charge nurse in a pediatric intensive care unit and busy, busy hours, called in at all times of the day and night. I was focused on my work and my home life became second. I disappointed everyone. Even myself. But I could not seem to get it together for the most important people in my life. My girls.
Mostly what I did was not attend their games or events. I would drop them off saying I would be back to get them after the game. I would tell them to walk to the local school where their games were held and I would be there as soon as I could. I would ask another mother to drive them to their events and not show up, embarrassed, asking the mother to bring them home, too. Because I had this responsible job, I expected they would understand that the baby at work was crashing, having a respiratory arrest, and I had to stay to care for that child. Or the afternoon shift nurse couldn’t come in and I had to stay over. Or the night shift got three really sick children and they didn’t have enough staff and they would call, begging, could I come in. Or one of the nurses got sick and had to go home and could I cover for them. I had a really responsible job but what I had most of all was a heart sickness I didn’t know. I let work be the cure for my sickness. It got me away from and busy, doing.
I was sad about breaking up the family. I wanted them to have what I could not give them by myself. I was ashamed that I was no longer living “the dream” and that they got caught in the crossfire of my husband’s and my “irreconcilable differences”. They got caught in my sadness, too. I remember one time where my daughter literally pulled me, shouting, “Mom, come on!” I could not pull myself up and out of the mire I was in.
Eventually I awoke to the fact that I was missing the mark and started the journey out of that sadness. By then my oldest was 16 and my youngest 14 so they had some scars from those 5 years of neglect. I pulled my head up out of the muck of my thinking and saw that my children, bless them, were still there, waiting, like children at the communion rail, mouths open, eyes closed, hands folded in prayer, tongues forward to accept the bread of life. The bread of mom.
Slowly came the healing and light. They began to accept that that crazy lady who was their mother was coming around and that they did matter and that she would take care of them. Today my youngest calls me and we have three-hour conversations. My end of the conversation goes something like this, “uh-huh…I see…wow…that’s terrific…I’m so proud of you…how do you feel about that?...no way…you did good…” These conversations are like manna, the bread of life to me. I love listening and knowing she is a happy woman. She is getting stronger and stronger by the day and I am getting happier and happier knowing she is doing well.
My other daughter is still trapped in her own demons. I feel terribly responsible for that and no matter what my Al Anon sponsor says it doesn't change. “We can’t control it, we can’t cure it and we didn’t cause it,” she tells me. I have trouble with the last part. Still. It is slow coming but I have trouble with that part knowing I wasn’t there for her during some really important times in her life. She will find her way and I will be there, I am there, for when she gets back.
I wanted to pour caramel all over this smelly sundae to make it sound like life is perfect and everyone turned out well. You know, the happy-ever-after ending and all. But this a half-sized happy-ever-after ending. Sweet and sour, as it were. “I went to the soda fountain looking for an ice cream sundae and they served me sweet and sour pork.” Something like that.
Camari, I went to the well of "tell the truth" and drank and this is the result.
Thank you for letting me get that off my chest, as it were.
Thank you for letting me naked and vulnerable.
I feel better. I'm not exonerated, don't expect to be. But I do feel better.
Thank you for that.