I go over a year each time I write here now. I have drifted farther and farther from writing and I think it's time I go back to my roots for some grounding. Be gentle with me, I am cleaning the cobwebs of my mind and writing skills.
It's been three years since my separation and divorce, can you believe it?
Truthfully it feels as if I was never married to begin with. You could call it survival instincts, pushing away hurtful memories, or just truly moving on past that chapter in my life. But it has been three years.
Ya know, everyone tells you single parenting will be hard. They mention the lack of extra eyes you'll have to keep track of everyone running around. They'll mention how your workload will double. "You're mom and dad now." They'll mention the exhaustion of it all. But why didn't any one warn me about how lonely single parenting is?
Before I start this, I do want to preface by saying that I have it much easier than most struggling single mothers. The kids see their dad weekly and on most weekends the kids spend their time with their grandparents. This provides me the chance to work, and to have a few days to decompress from the week prior. I do have it easier than some, and for that I am eternally grateful.
When I first moved into the home my kids and I share, I was terrified. I felt powerless in so many ways. Nothing was easy and I was almost resentful of the fact that Derek instantly had roommates after we parted ways. I felt bitter that I was "stuck" divorced and alone. Whenever I mentioned this to anyone they would always remark, "But you have your kids. How could you be alone?"
I am their caretaker, their mother. However, most would agree that in order to give them the healthiest childhood possible, I could not turn to them to meet my intellectual adult needs.
So I was lonely, and I felt alone.
I realized how lonely I was when I had a baby to care for at night, without any help.
I realized how lonely it was when my trash bin filled to the brim and I couldn't lift it to the end of the driveway. Or when the snow covered everything and I had to shovel alone.
I realized how lonely I was when I went to sleep with the fire poker gripped tightly in my hands for fear I had no weapon to protect myself from intruders. I realized how lonely I was when I knew that if there ever was a bump in the night, it now had to be me who checked each room, one by one.
It was lonely as I catered to three kids, needing three different things.
It was lonely when I didn't have enough hands.
Or I wanted to cry.
It was loneliest when I did cry.
My bed felt empty even when I was married, but now it was truly was empty, and cold.
I was lonely when I was cold.
It was lonely when the sink was piled with dishes by the end of the night, and I was the only answer to change that fact.
It was lonely when the kids went to bed and my living room was strewn with toys and crumbs.
It was lonely folding mountains of tiny clothes.
Overwhelming. All of it was overwhelming and emotionally depleting.
I struggled to keep my head above water for three long years. But never once did I regret the choice I made to move forward alone.
A funny thing happens when you spend all that time alone, wallowing in the pain of having to deal with your own choices. You accidentally find yourself. You have to, there is no other way. After all, you're alone day in and day out, and the only one you have for company is yourself. There is no way to escape you when all you have is you. I found myself. In doing so, the loneliness dissipated as my confidence in single parenting grew. I was no longer a victim, I was a survivor. All I needed was a new game plan- the old one didn't work anymore. Four hands were down to two and I had to find new ways to approach the situation. And I did. My cleaning routine changed. I let things slide, the dishes stayed in the sink a little longer than they used to. I slept with extra blankets. And I still cried, oh boy did I ever cry. But I was still happy, because at the end of the day there was no one there to make me feel bad about the messes on the floor, the laundry not done, the cleaning not as perfect as it could have been. I was proud because my kids were alive, and they laughed that day, and we read stories. I was proud because I found new ways to spread myself just thin enough to manage three children alone. And more still my confidence grew.
Now I hardly remember the days where I had someone to call out and ask for help. And that's been a blessing I could never have imagined, because now when I do have the help, the spare hands to carry in the groceries or wash a dish, or hand someone a snack... I am grateful. A dozen roses couldn't make this girl happier than helping me feed my babies at dinner time or keeping me company while I cook. The tiniest bits of life are now the most special and beloved parts of my existence as a single mother. What an honor to be able to recognize and appreciate the small ways that people show they care for me. Without this journey I don't think I would have been able to say I even noticed these gestures.
I get choked up just thinking about it.
So, yes, I am lonely. Some days, after the kids are in bed and my housework is done, I stand in my hallway and feel complete pain that the house is so quiet and it's only me in the dark.
But I know myself better now, I know that that day I did my best. I was my best version of a mother.
I was my best version of Kelly.
I know the pain will fade and one day I could be lucky enough to have an exhausted soul, weary from the days adventures, standing in the hallway next to me. We will hold each other up after a long day of joy and chaos, and relish in the silence of sleeping children.
But for now, I am okay enjoying the silence by myself.