As the day draws to a close I find myself thinking about being busy. Being busy all the time is the modern way of life. Some people use being busy as a way of measuring success and importance. Their lives are so jammed packed full of activities they barely have a moment to breathe. Relaxing is a precious commodity that is hard schedule into a day. I know people who have told me they don't go to bed until close to midnight. Every night. Not me. In all honesty my life has sort of been that way for the last three years. Not because I was trying to cram my days as full as I could, but because I was in college. My house was a mess and I was tired all the time. I never felt like doing anything and I couldn't understand why. Of course now I can see why I never felt like doing anything. The little bit of free time that I did have, I didn't want to spend it cleaning up. That just seemed like a hideous way to spend free time.
I am getting back into the groove of a regular life. Well, what regular life is like for a single working mother. I came home tonight and greeted the girls and asked them about their day. I started dinner immediately. This is a must in my house. While dinner was cooking in the oven, I started a load of laundry and cleaned the bathroom. I stopped long enough to eat. Then I threw the clothes from the washer into the dryer, unloaded the dishwasher, made lunch for all of us, got out meat for tomorrow night, wiped down the counters, folded a load of laundry, meanwhile instructing Keri on a couple of things she needed to do. The fact of the matter is that I don't HAVE to do all the things I do. I could wait until the weekend to do a lot of the cleaning. Then what I would have is laundry piled up to the ceiling, and I would have to spend my whole weekend cleaning. I choose not to do that. I would rather have my weekends free. Free to do what I not exactly sure of yet.
I have been asked many times how I do it. Being a single mother that is. The fact is that it was not a choice I made willingly. I HAVE to do it. There is no one else to do it for me. I don't feel sorry for myself and I don't expect anyone else to either. In all honesty, the first couple of years of being a single mother were the worst. For several different reasons. Keri was at difficult age. Her father and I separated when she was 11 months old. Also I was working very hard and barely making ends meet. I was forced to move into a mobile home because it was all I could afford. This was a major blow to my pride. I had lived in a couple of mobile homes growing up, but this was my first time as an adult that I had to live in one. When I was married we lived in a nice townhouse that had a nice park and a very secluded swimming pool. When people say things like, "I don't know how you do it". It really cracks me up. It's not like I woke up one day and said, "God, I would like to be a single parent. It seems like a lot of fun to raise kids alone. I think I want to give that a try". I couldn't just lay down and give up. My kids needed me.
I have been very blessed the last four years or so. I have a bare minimum of drama in my life. My children are well behaved and do well in school. We have a close relationship and I like to think that we all know that we are in this together. It's not a perfect life by any means. We have our problems just like anyone else. Emotionally, being a single parent is a lot easier than it used to be. There were many nights that I lay awake in bed and cried because I felt like such a failure as a parent. Because of all the material things I couldn't do for my children. There was a time when I didn't know if there was going to be any food on the table. Or if our electricity was going to be cut off. I was one emergency away from financial disaster. That is not an exaggeration. I was alone with no means of emotional or any other kind of support. My family all lived in Tennessee and I was in North Carolina at the time.
I did eventually hit rock bottom emotionally. I knew I had to make a change. I turned in my notice at my job, packed up my stuff and moved to TN. My sister Dejah let us move in with her until we got on our feet. We shared a two bedroom, one bath house at the time. There were two adults and four kids. The kids were 2, 4, 6, and 12. Many nights Dejah and I would be so exhausted from trying to keep up with all the kids that we would fall asleep sitting up. Melissa was the hardest hit by the move. She was at an awkward age anyway. She felt like I had taken her away from all her friends and she resented me for it. She started getting into trouble. I was really worried about her. Eventually she got expelled from school. That was a turning point for her. My only legal alternative was to enroll her in the alternative school. This is school for troubled kids. They put all the troubled kids in one classroom. I thought this was a horrible idea. Why would you put a bunch of kids who are having problems in the same room together? This just gives them more trouble to get in. I told the school counselor that MY daughter would not be attending this school. She stayed home for the rest of the school year.
That snapped her out of it. Kids think it would be fun to not have to go school. The only problem is that it gets boring really quickly. Six months after we moved here, we moved into the house we are living in now. This was a turning point for Melissa. She got away from the hoodlums she had been hanging around. The next school year I enrolled her in school again. She has been doing well ever since. She wants to take classes over the summer to help her catch up to where she should be. The irony is in the state of Tennessee, by law you HAVE to be enrolled in school if you are under age. I am not sure how we slipped under the radar but we did. I really think it would have been more harmful for her to go to the alternative school.
When I was going through all that with her, it seemed like the end of the world. I wondered if I had made a terrible mistake moving us here. I was really scared for our family and for Melissa. The difference was that my family was here. I had people to help me deal with the emotional side of what I was going through. That made all the difference.
Now Melissa and I are very close and I truly appreciate the relationship I have with her. We have so much fun. As a parent(single or not) you will go through hard times with your kids. I know Melissa is just 16. I truly hope I have been through the worst with her. Then there is Keri....her teenage years are not too far off.
I was supposed to be blogging about being busy. I am so easily sidetracked. So anyway, I like not having a full plate all the time. I don't want to have so much to do that I can't enjoy watching TV, or browsing blogs. If my measure of success and importance is based on me having a ton of things to do, I was would rather be unsuccessful and unimportant. I am not saying it's bad to have a full life. I just have no desire to send myself to an early grave. I have no desire to not enjoy my life. The Bible says that we are supposed to enjoy life in abundance until it overflows. Tonight as I was running around doing chores and getting ready for tomorrow, I ENJOYED it. I loved having the time to do a load of laundry and get lunches ready for tomorrow. It made me feel happy. I told Melissa I was on a cleaning high. The reason I enjoy doing those things is because I couldn't for so long. Poor Keri would say things like, "Mommy, I don't have any clothes to wear, when are you going to have time to do laundry?"
I do these things because I WANT to. Not because I have to. That makes all the difference in the world. I guess what it took this ENTIRE blog to say is that I am SO HAPPY to be out of school. I am happy that my kids have their competent mother back.
Note: Because I typed this, tomorrow everything will fall apart. Mark my words.