Saturday, July 9, 2011

Life vs. Life

There is life and then there is life. Ordinary, little day-to-day life like this morning when we're getting ready for a 9:00 a.m. park district baseball game. No one wanted to go - this is a league made up of college-bound young men and it is supposed to be fun. It is Saturday and my youngest is grumpy, annoyed that his brother isn't going because of his work schedulue. None of us are morning people - we're a household of night owls. To curb his frustration my youngest darted about before we left pointing out all the "transgressions" his brother was guilty of. "See," he griped thrusting a pair of boxers into my face. "He left them on the sofa - your nice new sofa. And he left the orange juice out all night. And I stepped on a plate of catsup from the dish he left on the floor. He didn't text the coach to tell him he isn't coming and I was yelled at the last time because the coach had to change the lineup. And I shouldn't be yelled at. So, what are you going to do about all this? I can't wait til he is gone..."

Not the kind of thing I want to hear or deal with trying to get out to make it on time for a game a fair distance away. Of course, I took the wrong route, opting for a less traveled way instead of going through all the quaint little towns inbetween. There was a big accident with a car completely overturned. As I rerouted myself I kept wondering what the driver had been doing to end up that way at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I thought about my sons driving late at night when it is far more dangerous. I also considered the heavy traffic there always is in our area. It is frustrating.

My rerouting took me smack dab in the middle of one of our cute, nearby historic towns having their Saturday a.m. outdoor market. So another reroute. Then more slow, busy traffic on the exact route I'd hoped to avoid. As we drove, my youngest proceeded to tell me everything that is wrong with me as a person and parent. On the stands I was glad to hear that I am not the only parent being treated to this perspective. So there you have it. A mere morning in the day of a life and certainly enough on one's plate to deal with.

But then there is the other stuff of life that exists along with all the ordinary dealings. Bring out the big guns here. Unemployment, financial issues, kids venturing off to college for the first time or kids in their Senior year of high school. For me the big stuff now involves Sam losing his job for the second time in two years. They are closing the retail store he manages. We were in the middle of getting a home together and have of course had to cancel the contract - the closing was supposed to be 7/29.

I haven't written about the home situation, I suppose I did not want to tempt fate. But fate was tempted anyway. The past month I have been on pins and needles and doing a fair amount of emotional eating (not good) waiting to see how Sam's job would pan out. There had been hope that he'd be transferred to another local location but he was pretty much just jacked around by the corporate bigwigs - getting put off and not given any answers.

There it is again. What haunts me so much - the not knowing, and the uncertainty. Eventually one can only take so much of it. I am sad, disappointed, feeling like every time I take a risk and put myself out there I get burned. I was the one who put down the earnest money and it is hard to lose money when you don't have much in the first place. The house was truly a dream home for me - built in 1895 and completely redone with a gourmet kitchen, a loft and tons of room for my antiques. I was so looking forward to getting them out of storage and into a home that would do them justice.

Now I have a morose guy on my hands upset with me for not going to visit him during this crisis. But I've put him off because we had the American Idol trip and next week will be gone for two days at my son's Freshman College Orientation. I feel like I have to focus on my sons, getting one safely off to college and launching the other into his Senior year. Both boys work and are out and about with friends every day. My oldest just went to Milwaukee to see Katy Perry. I don't like being away from them on weekends, 3 1/2 hours away. I truly feel my job and attention should be centered on my kids (and myself - the emotional eating is not healthy).

So into all these elements of life is the only parent card and the loyalty and responsibility I feel toward my sons. Most people don't get the reality of having to be "it" 24/7 and what that does to you. Sam believes my sons are old enough to be on their own so I get his demands conflicting with how I want/need to parent.

Deep down, sad as this is to say, I also just don't have the energy anymore to take on someone else's issues on top of mine. I'm barely handling my own life. I don't have it in me anymore. It truly is what it is. I can't pretend to be strong when I'm not. It makes me say again that lots of loss doesn't necessarily mean we'll grow stronger. Sometimes we just grow more weary and dismayed.

I've dealt with enough instability and the unknown. Where will Sam end up? He may move to Minnesota to be closer to his son but then we'll be two states apart for the next year (he doesn't want to move in with me for the next year and I am sad about that - he thinks the apartment is too cramped. But then I get upset that it is good enough for my sons and I but not Sam and we don't want to go there now).

It has surprisingly helped me to get this all out after being bottled up for so long. I am trying to refocus on little things. Downsizing, so when I can move after my youngest graduates (just 10 months away!) I'll be ready to pack more lightly. I find tremendous peace on my Wednesday antiquing trips out to the country and I know that in 10 months we'll be moving SOMEWHERE out of the Chicago area. I am so ready - it is time to move on. The cost of living is too high for someone in my situation, just the gas prices alone are the highest in the country and my apartment rent is more than half my monthly pension check. I am tired of scrimping to the bone. So I am happy thinking forward to a new life.

I am building up a little collection of vintage pottery - all the pieces cost $5.00 or so and that interest is something that can help me keep going in the months ahead. The upcoming trip to my son's rural college town is another opportunity to check out a new community although I don't think he'd be thrilled with my moving there. But who knows? We're not a typical family unit in the first place, maybe he'd be okay with it. And I could go back to school for my doctorate as a townee (sp?).

Today was the first in so many where I thought about knitting - I've been so down that knitting has seemed a chore rather than a joy as it usually is to me. But I am now planning to make two leaf scarves for Fall and that is providing me with some inspiration and hope.

I just basically want an easier and less stressful life. I had thought that was going to happen with the house and Sam but life has thrown another curve ball. I hate the unknown future and the lack of security I so need. But for now all I can do is to focus on my sons, my knitting and this apartment because it is what exists right now. To wrap up this post, I do envy those marrieds sitting on the baseball stands with me this morning. To constantly have to ride the roller coaster of life on one's own is a big drag. The little inclines can be tough enough and then there are those really steep ones that follow. I have found that the balancing of life's ups and downs on one's own to be one of the most difficult aspects of widowhood.


  1. My heart goes out to you. I can understand why you'd be loathe to count your chickens before they've hatched. What a disappointment losing the opportunity to move; I'm so sorry this happened. Re Sam - You're very clear about your boundaries to him and your kids, so you sound pretty darn sane and, yes, kind. If you had it to give, you would. So for now, please enjoy your Wednesday outings and your vintage pottery collecting and your knitting.
    Hugs to you.

  2. Dear Flo - Finally got around to using your gift and the scarves I am making are the result of a book from you! So thank you so much! My knitting bag never did show up and your kindness allowed me an opportunity to rebuild. Again, thanks and for your kind words as well.

  3. This subject really hit home. I have also tried to focus on my children for the past five years. (I have three, I commented on this site before under "anonymous" when my middle one graduated from college and my youngest from high school one month ago.) I have a social life (need the girl friends!) and was in a relationship for 2-1/2 years. This proved to be very difficult for me as I constantly felt conflicted over taking time/attention away from my children. I never wanted my youngest to feel like I 'ran' around too much, wasn't home, etc. The man I dated didn't understand why I felt like this about a 16-17 year old. She is very social and constantly on the go. But, I never want her to feel 'alone' when she is at home.

    Now I am starting a new relationship. we'll see happens. I am facing the empty nest and entering a whole new chapter. Have no idea what will happen, where I will be 5 years. The unknown is scary. I never liked the phrase "take it one day at a time" which I heard continually after my husband died. But, I guess that's where we still are - taking it one day at a time...

  4. WiTM- glad to hear your knitting is bringing you hope!

  5. You are doing what you need to be doing and personally, I think you are doing a great job. It just takes time--which seems to slip past us faster then the speed of light!!!

  6. Nancy - Thank you so much for commenting. I think the difference for only vs. single (divorced) parents is that we are it and as such assume more of the emotional as well physical responsibilities of raising our children. I think all that somehow makes us more devoted and attentive to them, which I will not apologize for. We realize at a certain level how much our children lack because they have lost a parent. Face it, they do lack - my sons had no male role models except for a handful of coaches. And that is a huge deal.

    My sons are extremely popular and social leaving me alone most nights. But I want to be physically around in the area just in case... They know I am home or out near home if they need me. That is what is most important. That they know we are available for them because we're it. I just can't imagine not providing that stability for my sons.

    Good luck on the next phase in your life. I am embarking on that phase too and feeling a little more excited about it. I think it will be easier for me to breathe a sigh of relief and get back out there full swing when both boys are safely at their colleges and I don't have to stay up until 3 a.m. waiting for them to return home.

    Flo - Having a great time knitting a leaf scarf for fall and will start on college blankets for my son and his girlfiend to take to school next.

    Jude - Thanks as always for your kind words and support.