Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Greater Losses than Vacations

My brother is taking his wife and three kids to Hawaii where my other brother lives for a week and a half over the holidays. I do not begrudge him this vacation. He works hard and like all of us deserves time off. I am just sad that the boys and I have not been able to go anywhere the past years. When my husband was alive we took the boys to The Field of Dreams, Mt. Rushmore, The Outer Banks, Niagra Falls, Canada and lots of small trips to Wisconsin. We had plans in the works to go to Colorado and Arkansas. Now I wish we had used some of the insurance money, small as it was, to go somewhere - anywhere.

It is not just the vacations that we have all missed. The boys have truly been deprived of so much over the years. A strong male presence; a father to rely and depend on; assistance with math and science homework; someone to teach them guy stuff, like how to put on a tie; a stronger disciplinary enforcer than I am; an adult male to talk with about girls, sex and guy problems - I could go on and on if I wanted to think more about it but I don't. Point being, my sons have been deprived spiritually and emotionally. It breaks my heart so many times a day when something comes up where the reality of them not having a father is so vivid and apparent.

And that is partly why I am struggling so much with the move and still not convinced it is the right thing to do. My boys have worn used clothing, lived without cable, received mostly used electronics and have not had a vacation in years. Their Dad died. They have no Dad and have not had one for six years, although you could really say eight, since the two years he was sick he was often at the hospital.

I can't give my boys a trip to Hawaii. I can't give them much help with math or science. I can't bring their Dad back. The only thing I can do is to try and keep them in their beloved hometown and school. They've already faced so much pain and heartbreak. I don't want them to feel anymore. Please spare them more agony and misery. We are not a "normal" family like the one that will be flying into Hawaii from Chicago in a few days. Decisions and solutions right for "normal" families aren't applicable in this case. The rules that used to be in place were chucked in the garbage six years ago.


  1. You almost sound as if you've made some sort of decision regarding moving back to where you and the boys came from. I don't envy you and the hard facts you are facing right now, but I am sending hugs and warm thoughts and many prayers your way. Hang in there. You are not alone... you have us loyal readers out here who are with you in spirit. Merry Christmas. And lots of hope for a wonderful and peaceful 2010.

    - Jenny

  2. No, I have not reached a decision. It helps me process by blogging my thoughts. My next post will be about why I want to move. I wish it were an easier decision. I just wanted to present why it has been so difficult from the perspective of being an only parent. I'm not sure everybody out there understands that.

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  4. i have been reading your blogs but i feel so strongly about some of this and i didn't feel it appropriate to leave a comment. i needed to get my thoughts in order. i also work through things via my writing but for me, it is 98% of my contact with humanity so i look forward to comments whereas you may just want to vent. but this has built up in me over these last few days and i just want to tell you about a letter i read that was published in the paper about 3 years ago - at Christmas.

    it was a letter in the editorials from a widow who wanted to thank the people in hers and her two son's lives. she thanked the manager of the small grocery store she had found. in exchange for grass cutting and snow blowing/shoveling from her sons, he gave her - free- hamburger, steaks, chicken. he "understood." his sister was a widow. the mother thanked her sons, coaches who would bring her sons home if her having to drive one conflicted with picking up another. she thanked Scout masters and the mothers of her sons, friends for giving her sons a safe place to go to if she had to work late or go in early. all these various people she thanked. and then she thanked her sons for being thrust into manhood and making enormous sacrifices before it was time for them to. they kept their rooms clean. did the dishes. helped their mom with budgeting groceries. the elder boy was 14 when his dad died and she thanked him for finding the Goodwill Store that, though it was further away, was a larger store with more clothes. she thanked them for being happy through all the one gift or homemade Christmases of her widowhood. her sons made the signs and were the "marketing staff" for each yard sale as they kept paring down more and more. they had a one bedroom apartment with both boys in the bedroom while mom slept on the sofa out in the common area and the boys would make her bed, put it back to a sofa each morning and get it opened up for her at night. her feet and back were tired from two retail jobs.

    she wrote this letter that Christmas because she was moving once again. it was over for her. her eldest had gotten through college and law school all on scholarships and by working his tale off. he had a job at a law firm with a good starting salary. he was moving his mom into the "master" bedroom of his two bedroom apartment. and he was paying for her flight and their motel rooms to attend his younger brother's college graduation. he also had a job waiting for him. he was a new assistant coach at a big high school about two hours away from his mom and older brother. he loved sports and he loved teaching.

    i guess what i'm trying to say is, you know your sons. you know yourself and how hard you can fight. you know who will help and if they fail, how far you will fall. your sons, i wish they helped more, but they can only do what they will do. sometimes for some it is just all too much for too long. but maybe that widow's story above will help you take heart with whatever you decide to do. eventually your sons will grow up and leave. and hopefully they will look back at all your efforts, all your sacrifices, and all your pain and between the two of them, they will weave a net to catch you. it will be their turn to make some sacrifices to help their mother.

    i wish you peace and a way to find some comfort.

  5. i wrote so much, wanted to tell you that widow's story. and no, i do not know your life, to have children the age of yours and be completely alone. my children grew up in fear. then we had my Dragon and there was the kind of protection that only another man can give. i know nothing of what you life is like. i just wanted to offer hope that even if you decide to give up on your relationship with your GF, there may be options. the widow of the letter frantically and honestly sought out every chance she could to save herself and her sons. and she found people who gave either a little or a lot, but even a little can be a miracle to someone who is suffering. it really doesn't take much.

    i hope you get your answers soon. i hope it is something that you can live with. i hope your sons grow soon to appreciate the pain you feel, to see past their own to the burdens that you carry and to the awful decisions you face like having to call the police on your eldest for his threats about your car.

    i really do wish you so much peace and safety. i guess i wish you safety first. i know what it's like to live afraid. different kind of fear - physical as opposed to financial but i am also quite hand to mouth, just alone in it. my children are grown. ok, i'm going to stop typing now and go sew. sorry for the running on and on.

  6. womanNshadows, that is such a beautiful story you shared. It hit home with me. I have been in this position, losing a husband, having 3 children who needed me, working many, many jobs to make ends meet, feeling a failure at every turn, no Christmases, etc. Today my children are all in their 40's and they have given back and helped me in so many ways. At the time, my son was resentful and angry, my daughters were better but one got lost in drugs for awhile, but today they are well-adjusted, successful adults and parents, and among my best friends, who, when asked, are very grateful for the life they had. I remember the despair. It clouds your thinking, and writing it out is very helpful(gratitude lists were a help). In the midst of it, I was sick and unable to work, too. I also chose a bad husband in the mix, who was a terrible thing for the children. He is now gone, I have a great life with an amazingly loving and appreciative man.
    Sending empathy, and wishes for peace, clarity and resolve that you are doing the very best you can.
    Merry Christmas.

  7. wNs - Your story is very moving and will inspire many. You have great compassion, as well as the ability and gift of natural story telling. Your reaching out to me via my blog will end up touching even more readers such as Cape Cod Kitty.

    Cape Cod Kitty - Thank you for sharing your story and advice. The despair does cloud one's thinking combined with the fear. Your story is very hopeful and I pray a sign that it will all turn out well in the end for everyone.

  8. WITM - I can't really add anything, but I so hope that you find some peace, and find the decision (what a hard decision to make) that is right for you and your family. What I will say though is this. Please consider your own feelings as well as those of your sons. PLEASE. xx

  9. All I can say is that I understand, and will be a presence for you while you make these difficult decisions. Yes, parenting as a single person is very difficult, and naturally puts many limitations and obstacles in the way. I think the best you can offer your boys is to be honest with them about your struggle. Let them know how serious you are taking each of these decisions.

    I'm often told, and truly believe, that in the end our children will come through these challenges with an unbelievable ability to be compassionate. If you are truly in love, then that needs to be conveyed. Your boys can only benefit from being in a family where their mother is happy and secure. This does take sacrifices, but with either choice they will have to be made.

    I'm learning that I don't have the power to change some of the majoy obstacles we have faced as a family. I can only change the way I respond to them. Sometimes it is done well, sometimes not. Either way I try to teach my kids that some thought went into each approach, and we are not always completely successful.

    For me I have to hope for tomorrow. The todays are very difficult, as they are for you. By authentically being present to my kids, and to myself, today, I can allow myself to hope for tomorrow.


  10. As a single mother of two teenage sons I have to say I agree with this post. They have been through a lot, enough, what has happended to them though was out of your control, but their future is in your control and as mothers I feel it is our job to sacrifice, not theirs. Yes,it is difficult and at times unfair, but they are with us for such a short period of time.....I want you to know that I am so deeply sorry for the tragedy you have endured and continue to endure, I really truly am. I pray for peace and comfort to you and your boys.

  11. Just wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you, and wishing you and your boys at least some sense of peace at Christmas ... Hugs ...