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When have you been the most impressed with yourself?
There have been times in my life when I really did NOT want to keep going forward. The floor of stability dropped out and I had to just do what I could to survive and figure it all out as I went along.
When my first marriage ended, it was one of those times. I found myself a single mom, robbing Peter to pay Paul just to keep the utilities on and feed my son. I was sleep deprived beyond belief, him getting up still several times a night. I was working full time and a full time parent with no one else there to help (Oh I did escape to my mom’s now and then but mostly it was just me). Come home, make dinner with a toddler hanging on my leg crying because he was hungry and me finally caving and giving him a Twinkie just to buy some peace for a few minutes.
I understand how it happens that a mother can be so stressed out she forgets her child is in the car and the poor little thing perishes in the heat. I was that mom. I got to work one morning, got out of the car, locked the door, turned around and as I walked past the back door there is my son in his car seat. Thankfully this was before the days of tinted windows on rear doors, or he would not likely be here. I stood there baffled beyond words. I could have told you what the sitter had on that morning, what we talked about, everything…how the hell did he get back in the back seat???? I was that far gone on stress and lack of sleep that I really did believe I had dropped him off at the sitters, a routine that was nearly identical every week day. It happened twice to me. I was lucky, I learned to put the diaper bag in the front seat by my purse so that I could not do it a third time. I cannot judge these women harshly, my life was out of control. It can happen.
I could have chosen to quit my job and go on welfare, but I sucked it up and pulled myself through each day to the best of my ability. I was freaking out, the company had cut our pay 10% due to hard times, when I could not make ends meet as it was, and this little boy would get up 2 or 3 times a night. Fighting for custody and through divorce proceedings, I was not only stressed but SO depressed. 22 years old, divorcing and a single mother. The only reason I didn’t let go of the side of the hole and drop into the dark, numbing abyss of insanity was the cute little face that I would wake up too (scared the crap out of me every time), nose to nose with mine every morning. He figured out how to get out of bed and would come climb in with me, then get his little chubby face as close to mine as possible and grin, waiting for my eyes to open.
Another time, shortly after the former Prince Charming, hubby number 2, had back surgery, his lung collapsed in the middle of the night. We didn’t know what was wrong, only that the pain he was in was so severe he was out of his mind with it crazy suffering. His tolerance for pain is extremely high so I was terrified. When we arrived at the hospital by life squad they determined he had thrown a blood clot into his lung and it had collapsed. Suddenly he is being rushed away and a doctor is telling me I cannot go with him, it is potentially fatal and I’m left standing there, all alone thinking he is going to die. My amazing self kicked it into gear, I sat down, made a quick plan of what I’d need to do….call the funeral home, contact next of kin, and a number of other things. Then I called, left a voice mail for my boss on his office phone about what had happened and that I didn’t know what the outcome would be, only that I would not be at work. Called my mom to fill her in (she had come to stay with the kids), and then, once I had my ducks in a row, I sat down on the floor under the pay phones (pre-cell phone days) and sobbed my heart out. It’s how I roll…have a master plan in place, then freak out, and then wipe the tears, stand up, brush off, roll the sleeves up and get to work surviving.
There have been many times in my life this scenario has played out with differing circumstances, and I am always amazed at my ability to let it out, cry a bit, then suck it up and find a way to make things okay again. I am a fighter, not a survivor. I cannot passively sit by and let things happen, I have to find the inner strength and claw my way out of the bad situation. And I always do.