Yesterday I got a call from a domestic violence shelter that is interested in having me do some volunteer work for them. The woman calling asked me when I could come in for an orientation. Although I am flattered at their interest, this is not something I am jumping up and down to add to my life right now. I've done a lot of volunteer work in my past and I feel now is the time I need to be concentrating on earning some regular income. However, that is not the point to this story.
I told the woman I would not be able to come in this week because it is Spring Break for us and I need to be around for my kids. She didn't accept this answer and kept pressing me to come in for a meeting. I finally had to pull out what I refer to as "the widow card." I firmly replied that as a widow I am on my own and it can be difficult to schedule things. I then told her that I did not want to have to make an appointment to have to cancel it because of something that may come up with one of the boys.
This exchange brought to mind similar situations in the past where I've been put on the spot or pressured to conform to someone else's schedule with no regard to the difficulties I face as an "only parent." In the early days of my widowhood, I very much felt that I was always on the outside but having to shift all the obstacles facing me to fit in with everyone living on the inside. I often felt that no one ever made concessions for me and I always had to be the one trying to keep up. For example, carpooling - I was always expected in my circle of parents to drive as much as the two parent families. It is only since Husband #2 filed for divorce that I have had the strength and sense to start refusing to play this game. I make it clear that I can only drive one way or not at all.
I'm not sure why it has been so hard for people in my circles to put their feet in my shoes. I know I live in an upscale community and perhaps the people here are more self-centered than in other places. And I also think that some of it is that widows my age are in the minority - there are so few of us in my community that people don't know any. But come on, give me a break here. It is impossible for me to function as a mom would in a two person household - yet the same requirements are expected of me unless I speak up and say no. It just would be nice once in awhile for someone to offer me a break without me having to explain why I can't do something or other. In my mind it is obvious - I'm one person doing the work of two. But I guess for people who haven't faced my life, it is not something they can actually conceptualize.
I hope that when I enlighten people by saying no or explaining why I can't do something, that I am paving the way for others in my situation and expanding the understanding of those still lucky to be happily married.
Today I am grateful:
1. For having a place to vent, process and work out my feelings about widowhood, divorce and life.
2. For others who have the strength to blog about their experiences so I can gain from their perspectives.
3. That I have gotten up and am facing the day.