May 9th, 2016
I can do hard things. But honestly, sometimes I just don’t really want to. And I don’t even mean actual hard things like running a marathon or battling some terrifying chronic illness. Keep in mind that my “hard things” are completely relative to my life experience and former anticipated road map of life. I’m a little undecided at this time as to whether or not I’m hella grateful for what I can do and have been blessed with or if I’m mostly annoyed that these growth promoting opportunities are even presented to me.
Last night the kids and I ate Chinese takeout on the floor while we started, yet again, a Harry Potter marathon. My son had given me a bag of Hershey’s drops for Mother’s Day and I finished the entire bag within an hour after opening them, while surrounded by luggage containing a week’s worth of dirty clothes for the 3 of us that I really should have been washing. I had just returned from what my extra nerdy and easily impressed self would consider to be a dream vacation. I was able to surprise my children with a trip to Hogwarts and Disneyland. As one of the billions of Harry Potter fanatics who has successfully passed down my love of the Wizarding World to my children, a trip to Hogsmeade is basically a realization of a dream. With this vaca I was also able to introduce The Girl to all of her beloved princesses. So this seriously is a beautiful thing that I was able to do with and for my children. But as I spent my last day at the overly priced, overly-crowded theme park, I was once again reminded at how very differently this (and everything else in my life) was playing out compared to what my young mind had planned.
A month ago I took my children on what we intend to make our annual Spring Break trip. We spent a week in the southern half of our beautiful state hiking majestic red rock canyons, exploring caves and swimming in natural pools. This is a trip that I started after my divorce and we loved and looked forward to doing again. Last year I think I was still optimistic that my marital outcome would be different and so I looked at this husband-less vaca as a hiccup in our future of family vacations. This year felt different.
As I navigated each unexplored National Park or Pinterest recommended stop, I was hyper aware of all of the intact families around me. Admittedly, I lost my cool on my son en route to one particularly hidden gem of a destination when he was using his iPhone for games as opposed to helping me navigate dirt roads and unmarked turns. I felt bad for myself as I watched husband’s pack small children on their backs while their wives sipped from their Camelbacks and took their hands for extra assistance up some rocky path. And here I struggled up waterways and especially exciting rock surfaces with a 4-year-old wrapped around my front like some adorable primate. After one particular 5 mile climb in which The Girl mostly required being carried and The Boy’s asthmatic cough and inability to freestyle-scale every rocky surface led him to sulk, I unnecessarily commenced to angrily direct my children to have fun, dammit; to take notice of all of the families around them and identify any other single mothers that may have also embarked on a Spring Break wilderness journey. Did they see any? Could they find any other families that seemed to be struggling as much as we were? Were there any other mothers in sight who looked either on the verge of tears or a complete mental breakdown that probably should have filled her Camelback with wine instead of water?
Likewise, Hogsmeade and Hogwarts were so very many things to me. I assure you there wasn’t a happier muggle to be found as I alternated between joy and nostalgia. I remembered how each of the 3 husbands fit into my Harry Potter timeline of discovering the books, attending midnight movie premiers, and then exposing my children to this glorious tale. It wasn’t just a small part of me that hoped that #2 was watching from the other side as I set foot onto this hallowed, cobble-stoned ground. And I couldn’t help but wonder at the joy that #3 truly would have gotten from seeing me and my littles personally experience Butter Beer and chocolate frogs for the first time even while he pretended to be indifferent.
To be clear, I am immensely grateful to have these little people in my life, for any amount of time with them is indeed a gift. And I acknowledge the wonderful opportunity that I have to be able to financially move forward with life and caring for my children when things have gone awry. I am thankful that I am independent, stubborn, determined and obstinate enough to press forward in all the ways that I would have done if things would have played out differently. I am proud of myself for daring to set out on adventures with my children armed only with Goldfish crackers and water bottles…and a little Google nav. To find normalcy in a life that feels like it is anything but normal. I like that I am not waiting for my tomorrow to press on living and doing what any other “family” would do.
To find normalcy in a life that feels like it is anything but normal.
And still, I’m simultaneously annoyed and all pouty that *this* is actually my life. I said it. And I kind of feel like a jerk right now for verbalizing my first world problems. But it’s my truth. As I continue to wake up each day, a little farther out from the dissolution of my “family”, and still with grief ever present in my chest, I wonder what more I could be doing to finally close this wound. When working and laughing and service and prayer only ever seem to stave off the sadness, how will I ever truly become the stronger, livelier, and more empowered human that we’re all promised is just beyond the trial? What hope can I actually offer another when I’m still grasping to find mine? Now that I’ve successfully convinced my family, and friends and IG followers that I totally kick ass at single parenting and consider my collection of husbands to be simply fantastic entertainment along this road to my real life, when do I actually start living and believing that I am the super duper awesome and indestructible powerhouse that she is? Not gonna lie, she seems pretty bad ass.