School was cancelled this morning due to the barrage of rain we have suddenly encountered after days in a deep-freeze.
While I am thankful to have these days with my children, I do not especially enjoy these unexpected, endless days of childhood needs and mind-melting toddler drama.
I’m struggling with my sense of motherhood, to be completely honest. I adore my children. I love them with every ounce of my being, but the relentless demands of single motherhood sucks every ounce of creative and intellectual energy from my being. Reading, podcasts, moments of silence, creative outlets, cleaning and house projects, are luxuries I have to carve out in the smattered moments of solitude I get in bits and pieces through the week. There is little time or space for me, my personhood, in this current phase of life. My own dreams and interests have been filed away for some distant future where my children will have the independence I need to save my dwindling sanity.
I often think back to the days when Tim was alive and we functioned as a two-parent family. I remember the stress I used to feel. The sense of being overwhelmed by my children’s needs. In retrospect, it was an easy time. I had a partner to support me and co-parent by my side. Weekends were a time to relax and connect, not just a 48 marathon of survival. We thought we had a lifetime of weekends. Then we didn’t.
I’m thankful for my children, of course. Had Tim died before they were born, he would not have been able to fulfill his life-long dream of fatherhood. I would likely not have had the opportunity to be mother and raise these beautiful beings into the world. But there are still times that I dream of what life would have been like if it were just me, alone, with the time and space I need to fulfill my own wants and needs. This is the dance of motherhood. Neglecting your own humanity for the sake of launching well rounded, emotionally healthy, creative beings into the adult world. We sacrifice, despite our feminism and progressive views on parenting. We give all of ourselves because there is simply no other way to give children everything they need to thrive. Because they need so. much.
I’m fortunate to have occasional breaks. 20 hours a week to sleep and socialize and stare into the middle distance while my children are in the care of my parents. This is a luxury not afforded to all, and I am deeply thankful for the time. But on days like today, when we are trapped by weather and circumstance and nap refusal, I’m pulled into the existential spiral of “forever”. “THIS IS MY LIFE FOREVER.”
Even if it’s not.
Jack Byron is growing by the day. His intellectual curiosity and creative expression are a beautiful convergence of Tim and I’s skills and capabilities. He is slowly growing more independent, more emotionally mature. He’s becoming an incredible little boy with a brain for engineering and art. But first, he needs to learn to wipe his butt.
At 2.5, Claira Soleil is a powerhouse. She bounces around with her intense dark brown eyes staring out under lengthening bangs. Her energy and strength is endless. A strong, independent lady with limited sense of logic and zero emotional control. She carries around my 10lb kettlebell like it’s a stuffed animal. 1/3 of her total body weight, lifted like a feather. One day she will be a powerful force of change, love, intellect, compassion. Maybe a body-builder. Today she’s a pain in the ass. Jesus Christ, I love that kid.
A tiny light I have found in the day is a Conor Oberst album that was released after Tim’s death (Salutations). Tim loved Conor. He referred to him by his first name, like a good friend. He once suggested we drive through a hurricane to make it to a concert we had bought tickets for on the other side of the state (it was cancelled). We brought Jack Byron to a show in Milwaukee when he was just 2 months old. Tim died to his “Cleanse Song”. This man’s music was an integral part of Tim and our relationship. So what a pleasure to come across a new album I had not yet heard. To be able to play his music over our speakers and imagine how Tim would feel about his evolving style. A little glimmer of emotional sunshine on a gloomy day.
There are five hours left until bedtime. We will get through them through play and art and screen time and fighting and crying, just as we do every other day. We will get through today just like we get through every other day. I will keep playing music and keeping myself stable. And I will keep in my mind that this is not forever, even if it feels that way. Today is just today. It may not be the best day I’ve had. It’s not the worse either.