Sunday, November 29, 2015

Losing It: A Widowed Mom's Thanksgiving Weekend

I lost it this weekend.

Big time.

You know the story:  Kid wants to go out for the night and needs a ride.  Mom says she's too tired because she's been running said kid all over the place the entire weekend.  Said kid starts to pout.  Mom starts crying and screaming, "I don't know if you realize this, but I'm doing this by myself" as she slams out of the room.

Okay.  Maybe you didn't know that story.  But you do now.

Ugh.  I wasn't pretty.  And it's not a new scene.  However, it happens a lot more in my head than it does in real life.

It's not my kid's fault.  Any of my kids.  And most parents - widowed or not - totally get this.  I'm tired.  I don't want to shuttle your ass anywhere else.  I already bought you new boots today.  Isn't that enough??

Kids are kids and we were all like that at one point in our lives.  Yes, they're selfish and it's our job to teach them to think of others so they'll grow up to be caring human beings someday. 

But maybe not by throwing a temper tantrum (me, not her) and slamming out of the room.

My argument was valid, though.  And let's face it - our family situation can be shitty sometimes.  But what usually  happens is that I acknowledge how hard it must be for the kids to not have a dad. 

Very rarely do they acknowledge how hard it must be for me to not have a partner in all of this.

Again, not their job.  I get it.  But as my daughter was begging me to basically spend two hours just driving her to the party and back last night, I couldn't help but bring up something I had been thinking about the entire weekend.

"You know, I'm the only one of your friends' parents who does everything.  If they're single, they're divorced which means they're driving their kids around every other weekend.  I am doing it all on my own, all of the time.  It's no one's fault - it is how it is.  But sometimes I just wish you'd remember that and cut me a little slack."

Of course, this wasn't said as calmly as I just typed it.  But my point was made by the fact that I hadn't even showered (at 4 PM), I had just spent the afternoon before getting her to lunch and the movies with her friends, and hosting several other kids the night before (for my other kids) at an epic sleepover that involved sleeping bags sliding down stairs and other Motrin-inducing moments.

I was done.

I know this wasn't my kids' fault.  I like for them to have fun.  What I miss - truly, truly from the bottom of my core - is someone in my life who will either say to the kids, "You know what?  You can stay home tonight.  Let's let Mom rest" or "Don't worry, honey.  I'll take care of it."

Is that too much to ask????

Don't answer that.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Does This Make Sense to You?

If you're reading this blog, chances are you've been stuck with the task of going through a loved one's belongings after they've passed.  And if you're reading this blog, chances are you've shaken your head once or twice at the stuff they've left behind.

I've written about my husband's pack-rat nature and I've probably been a little unfair about it.  After all, it probably made perfectly good sense to him to keep dried out pens in old check boxes and three mufflers in our garage.  If I had passed before he did, he would have probably cursed me as he got rid of all of the dishes I like to collect and the twenty pairs of black pants hanging in my closet because I can't ever seem to pass them up when I find them in a tall size.

But whomever gets the task of going through my stuff upon my demise might find some other puzzling things around my house that I wish to explain right now.

There's a blue sweatshirt that has a tattered collar and rips in the cuffs of the sleeves.  It's extremely soft on the inside and used to smell like soap and Old Spice deodorant.  Years ago I tried replacing it, but its owner was never satisfied with the newer shirts that I bought.  And then after he died, I spent many a night curled up in it, wishing its former occupant would come back and hug me one more time and I could put my head on the warm, solid shoulder that used to be in it.  You'll see it in pictures holding a newborn baby girl and lying on the floor with a fluffy dog that's with her owner now.

There's a feather bed pillow at the top of my closet that looks yellow with age and someone else probably would have thrown it out years ago.  But it was his favorite and, for some reason, I can't stand to part with it.  The feathers sometimes stick out of the casing, but it can be punched down to the perfect shape that will encase your head and cover your ears.  At least that's what he told me.

There are twelve coolers in my garage that you might think are a little excessive, but were given to us by friends and family at a wedding shower almost 20 years ago when we were moving to Florida.  They've been on picnics, carried their fair share of beer, and take up more room in the garage than necessary.  But for some reason they're necessary to me.

There's a teddy bear in my daughter's room that used to be white, but is now a light gray.  It's holding a red rose, like the one he gave me along with that teddy bear while we celebrated our first Valentine's Day together in college.

There's a metal coffee mug in the back of my kitchen cabinet that has the logo of a college I didn't go to.  It used to hold what I called "girly coffee" (which was more hot chocolate than anything) and wake its owner up when he would get in his car to go to work before anyone else in the house had stirred.

There's a torn leather chair in my office that someone else might have put in a donation pile long ago.  You'll see that chair in many of the pictures with the sweatshirt (they seemed to go hand-in-hand) and it still holds kids when they come home from school and tell me about their day.  It is bulky and worn and most women wouldn't want it in their feminine office.  But to me it fits just right.

And last...there's a note in my drawer written in tiny, neat script that says, "I'll fix this when I get a chance.  B."  It's referring to an antique wooden box given to me by my grandmother that I foolishly broke years ago and almost tossed years later...when I opened it and found the note inside after the giver of the gift and the fixer had long passed.

I know that a lot of this probably doesn't make sense.  And that's okay - it doesn't have to.  We've all marveled and wondered about why people keep the things they do and how something so trivial could possibly be important.

But it's never the thing - it's all that's attached to it.  The thing can be discarded.  But there's always a fear that getting rid of it will make us remember less.

I haven't kept everything he had, which is probably what doesn't make sense to people.  How could she get rid of all of his clothes, yet keep a briefcase that's worn beyond repair?  Why would she keep that really obnoxious football jacket she didn't even like when he was alive?  Why would someone still have an email account saved on her computer with what looks like meaningless emails?

I don't know.  But in some way, it just makes sense to me.

So there.