I feel I’ve already taken too much “me” time and not enough “them” time. Let’s face it. I wasn’t the perfect role model to my kids when they were young during the crucial times in their lives when it was important to be a mother. I have no excuse but my therapist will tell you different. She will tell you that I struggled with my own depression and that my life was in shambles. “How could you possibly give three young children the quality of life that you wanted and desired when you were going through so much in your own life?” Really? I find that very selfish, doc. *sigh* So many regrets.
There are many times they had to fend for themselves. They played by themselves. They learned by themselves. They ate by themselves. I worked tremendously and I think that was my way of checking out so that I didn’t have to deal with the crying, yelling and screaming daily. I didn’t have to deal with their wants and needs by myself everyday. I didn’t have to solve fights and disagreements. So of course, they only had each other. So for me to take time for myself today is leaving them to fend for themselves “again” and this leaves me with painful guilt. Literally I feel a heavy and painful jolt in my chest and stomach. Anger at myself heats up my face and wells up in my cheeks and ears. It then shoots towards my eyes and a sudden burst of warmth runs down my face.
I remember a few years ago we had just left a counselors office. All four of us. We took an elevator down because we thought it was a really cool elevator. It was one of those old ones that have the wrought iron looking gates on the front that squeal really loud when you open and close them. The entire elevator was open so as you move you can see everything around you. This also means there are gaps and holes that allow ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to fall through. When we reached the bottom and as I stepped off the elevator my keys slipped from my hand and fell between the gap to the floor below which was empty and looked like it may have been under construction. It was maybe 3 or 4 feet down so not very far but far enough that I couldn’t get down there myself. I didn’t have to say anything. All three of the kids scrambled to worked together and fast. They could see the keys and each one worked together to get them. One held the gate while the other went to retrieve. It took a minute to figure out because it wasn’t as simple as just moving the gate. They had to go in from the side and then determine who was going to go in, who was the smallest to fit and then how they were going to get that person back up. I remember watching them and thinking – “Wow. It’s incredible that just one hour ago they were fighting with one another but now, when comes to having to make a plan or having a job to do, they seem to come together quickly and get it solved.” Any other parent would have been proud and then moved on from the experience. Don’t get me wrong – I was proud. Very proud. But I haven’t forgotten that day because I felt awful. I knew that they worked well together in that way because they had learned from an early age how to survive on their own. They have only ever had each other. Sadness punched me in the gut.
They are all adults in their twenties now and I feel that guilt and regret more so now than ever. I watch them struggle with life. My oldest seems to do okay for the most part although she doesn’t seem to have a sense of direction. My son. Oh, my son. As I type this he is currently sitting in County Detention aka jail. I won’t get into that much here right now but I will say this – I have the guilt. I am guilty of not providing an example. My heart absolutely aches but I put money on his books and try my best to be sure his car is paid for each month and that he knows he is loved. I’m not even sure how to do that right. My youngest, she does well in life but suffers a debilitating anxiety no doubt brought on by a childhood of trauma and chaos.
I’m not sure how to shake how I feel. I just know I feel it. You can’t just tell someone to get over it and *POOF* it’s gone. You can’t tell someone they did the best they could and now suddenly they are healed. I have to be able to believe it. No one lived my life with my children but me and them so to have someone say “you did the best you could” is not enough for me. Did I? Did I really? I’m not so sure. I’m a shining example of damaged dysfunction which has been cast upon my children at no fault of their own and all I want to do is make it better.