Ya know those moments in life where you’re just kinda cruising along and you start thinking to yourself, “Hey, I’m doing alright. I totally got this.” And then there’s a shift in the wind and suddenly you’re like, “Oh, wait…Welcome to the unknown” Or should I say, welcome back to the unknown?
I’ve been a single mom for a little over three years now. It’s been a bigger challenge than I ever could have imagined. But I have my days where I’m like, “Oh yeah, I ‘ve got this down. I’m totally kicking butt. No problem.” Our weekly schedule is a little crazy, especially on Wednesdays when it looks like this: Out the door by 7:45am with lunches in hand and the crockpot set for dinner, drop the kids at school by 8, drive the hour in traffic to the Central West End and pray that I can find rock star street parking not more than a few blocks from the hospital, walk (or run) into Siteman for my externship hours, at the stroke of 4:00 bolt back to the car, the kids have been picked up by a friend and dropped at home for Ally to be in charge until I get there, drive the hour back to Wildwood, burst in the door (by 5pm if I’m lucky) hoping that homework is done and Silas is at least partially changed for soccer practice, change clothes, sign off on homework, shovel food down the kids throats, try to remember to eat something myself, leave again by 5:40 to get Silas to practice in the valley by 6 (tonight we snuck a quick stop in to their grandparents’ house to pick up some of Ally’s forgotten items), drive across the valley to drop Ally at the church for youth group, drive back over to the ballfields so I can get in a quick couple miles before practice ends at 7:15, drive home, put Silas in the shower, clean up the kitchen, finish the homework, go pick Ally up from youth group by 8:30 (I lucked out tonight and she got a ride home), get Silas into bed, get Ethan into bed, sink down into a chair somewhere and finally take a breath.
Wow. That’s a day. But I’ve gotten somewhat accustomed to the craziness and doing it *mostly* on my own. I’ve very thankful for my villiagers who help how they can. But I’m used to being on a minute to minute schedule most days. And, if I do say so myself, I’m doing alright. Not perfect mind you, but alright. I’m keeping the boat afloat.
So here we are going along, doing our thing, but yesterday Silas threw me for a little bit of a loop. After not seeing the kids all weekend, I arrived home to hugs and chaos. After about a minute, Silas said, “Hey Mom! Guess whaaaaat?” with the last part of the word going up a few notes in that sing-songy way that kids do when they want to spill the beans.
“We have some news!”
My mind was spinning with, ‘Oh please let him say he lost another tooth, or they had pizza for lunch, or something…’ but I already knew what he was about to say.
“On Saturday…Dad engaged Katie!” He was beaming. I was too, just because of how cute he was with his verbiage.
“Oh yeah? Your dad proposed to Katie? Are you excited?”
I sat with that a minute. I wasn’t surprised in the least. Even though they started dating around March of this year, I fully expected things would go quickly. Call it gut instinct, women’s intuition, whatever. I really was ok with it. But I’m still processing the fact that my kids are about to have several members added to their family, people who I really don’t even know. That’s kind of weird. Kind of like that change in the wind I mentioned earlier. Katie currently lives in Iowa with her 3 kids. They will be married and moved in by Christmas. Maybe instead of a light breeze, that’s more like a big gust.
Tonight after dropping Ally at youth group I drove back over to the Chesterfield Athletic complex where Silas was at practice. I had plans to get in a couple miles on the levee if I could scrounge up a headlamp in the car. I pulled the car into an empty space, pilfered through the running bag I keep in back, scored a headlamp with non-dead batteries and had all of 35 minutes until practice would end. It was still light enough when I started but the sun was already beneath the horizon, so I knew it was only a matter of time. My first mile out, with the wind at my back, seemed easy and my feet cruised along the old familiar path. At a mile and a half, I turned back to wind in my face and it got darker with each step. I turned on the headlamp, which helped a little, but since I was also wearing a visor, some of the light was blocked. Oh well, I would adjust. I was dealing with the challenges, but I was still doing just fine. My mind went back to a conversation with Ethan last night at bed time.
As I was tucking him in, he was telling me that Katie’s youngest would be in his class since they are less than a year apart in age.
I said, “You’re pretty excited, aren’t you?”
“Yes!” He responded. After a pause, he leaned over the top bunk to look at me, with a big smile and concerned eyes, he asked, “Are you, Mom? Are you excited?”
“Am I…um, what? Excited? Uh…” I admit I wasn’t very graceful in the moment, I mean how in the world do you answer that? But I recovered fairly quickly. “Bud, if you are happy, then I am happy. I’m glad you are excited.”
He smiled. I smiled. Then I kissed him on the top of his head, as is our custom, and said “Good-night, bud, I love you.”
So, during my run tonight, I was thinking. Am I excited? No, that’s not the word. How do I feel? I’m not upset in any way. It’s weird, for sure, to think about it. And like I said, I’m still processing. But I’m ok. It creates a new dynamic, like wind or running in the dark, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. It will take some getting used to, but we’ll adjust and in time it will just be what we’re all used to.
As Silas’ team came back into view, the lights of the field were much brighter than my headlamp. I could see them down on the field, running, playing, having fun. And I thought, “I really do just want my kids to be happy and taken care of. And if they have one more person (or several) in their lives to love them, then that just adds to their happiness. As a single parent, all you can really hope for is that if your former spouse finds someone to share your children with, that this new person is good to your kids. It’s the ultimate in letting go of control. And it’s ok if I’m not always graceful when I feel like I’m running into the wind, in the dark. I’ll adjust, and recover, and keep going.
As I neared the end of my run, I found myself praying…
God, help me with forgiveness. Help me continue to let go of what I thought my life should look like and help me to be gracious, always. God, Bless the union that is going to bring two families together and please protect my babies in that. And God…bless the woman who is about to take on the new challenge of being a step-mother to my 3 amazing kiddos, carry her as she enters unfamiliar territory. And guide her when she feels like she’s alone in the dark. Show her grace and mercy and remind her that she isn’t alone.
As I prayed I noticed a lump forming in my throat. I know exactly what to pray for her, because it’s what I pray for me all the time.
It’s tough to run and cry at the same time, it really just makes you start to hyperventilate.
And God…please help me to remember to breathe.