On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Sky Full of Stars

Well, the summer is over.  The kids go back to school on Wednesday.  Sissy was awake before 6 a.m.  Getting ready to get back into the school routine?  Um...no.  More like getting ready to drive us all insane with her jacked up back-to-school jitters.  Wow.  Does this game of hers ever end?  She will disobey EVERY instruction.  Steal, sneak, lie, it never ends.  Every day is a new day, right?  Yep.  New opportunities to test the limits at every turn.  EVERY TURN.  Every day if I'm not on my A-game with her she gains the upper hand and usually that means I'm flying into a Rajani Patel induced stream of expletives.  [1]

Am I glad they are headed back to school?  Yes.  No.  It's been an interesting summer.  It has been one of the hardest, transformational summers of my life, second only to the final summer my father was alive; watching his body slowly deteriorate from the leukemia until he was gone on the first day of fall.  Yes. THAT kind of summer.  Only what is slowly deteriorating is the dross and lingering vestiges of a lifetime of abuse and heartache.  I have watched the pain and despair slowly float away like the ashes from a bonfire - float, floating, gently disappearing into the cool night sky, one ashy flake at a time until they are all snuffed out and carried away on the wind.

It has hurt.  It has been amazing.  I even dare say, the BEST damn summer of my life, though I have gone no where, no vacation save but a wonderful, blissful four days spent on the lake with family and friends - laughing, crying, hugging, longing, learning, teaching, being.  Like the Grinch, I think my heart grew four sizes in those four days.

I have actually worked all summer, tutoring three young men all with a difficult life story leading them to a place of wanting to just be done with education and ready to move on to adulthood.  It is the greatest privilege to be an educator, to have the opportunity to influence young lives and to learn from them in like kind.  Oh, I have learned!  One student, in particular, has absolutely captured my heart.  What a smart young man!  Possibly one of the fastest learners I've ever had.  He can snatch up a math concept in a heart beat all while he sings "math, math, I hate math"  Love him.  SO much.  Maybe too much because I find myself wanting to rescue him from the minor blunders and pitfalls young men find themselves in as they learn how to become adults, stretch their wings and fly.  This one can go places, achieve amazing heights, but he lacks the confidence in himself.  I hope I have begun to teach him that as well - that he CAN.  Oh my, can he!!!

See?  My heart stolen dead away by students, once again.  When they become more than students to me, it is a magical dynamic.  This is why I know I'm an educator, why I can't give it up.  This is why the summer has been so hard in equal measure for how beautiful it has been.  I wanted to teach, I wanted to be away from this present reality, I wanted more for Sissy and AB than what appears to be available for them here both in their present need and in their future need as adults themselves.  I wanted friends and family and hope.  I wanted to start over, clean slate, new house, new life, freedom.  At the beginning of the summer I was convinced I had to move on to find what I needed.  Now I'm not so sure.

On the 15th I take the content exam.  I know I will pass.  With a passing score, I can apply to openings for Biology teacher positions and a school can request a provisional certificate while I work on my Master's in Education.  Yes, I will go the distance and get my Doctorate too.  My application is at the local university, I wait only for them to send my acceptance. I know I will get into the program.  I have sent more than 22 applications for employment and I wait for a job, preferably as a paraprofessional while I work on my degree so I don't have to juggle both the tasks of lesson plans and prep while I study.  I wait but it is just a matter of time and door knocking before I find a job.  I hope it is soon though, money is running out.

At the end of the month, my sister will be here.  We are joining forces.  No more will the loneliness overtake me, there will be another adult body in my life, helping when and how she can and if nothing more, just being present.  The loneliness of single parenting is stifling.  AB and Sissy aren't typical teenagers that talk and share their ideas, create their own social lives with friends coming and going, giggling and video game playing.  I don't dwell on the reality that my teenagers are atypical teens but it is hard to ignore the obvious disparity when I have teen students in my home being typical and my children suddenly appear very...different.  When everyone goes home at the end of a day, I find myself sitting in my Adirondak chairs breathing and pushing away the sorrow that AB and Sissy will always be different and that their differences can be isolating for ALL of us. 

I've discovered that there are indeed, some very wonderful, blessed friends that have willingly jumped into this life with me.  Breath of fresh air to the point of tears.  So thankful.  My heart is bursting.  Sure, every morning and every night I am alone with the kids but during the daytime, I have friends that go the distance with me, if even through text and FB, knowing that those lifelines carry me through.  It is an old habit carried over from the residue of abuse, for me to assume that my neediness is annoying. These friends know I'm not needy, I just carry an enormous burden that overwhelms me and instead of berating me, they encourage me.  You can't possibly know how amazing that truth is unless you have walked the miles I have walked.  Now, I look up and see a sky full of stars smiling at me instead of miles of darkness weighing down on my heart and soul.  For these friends, my children are joys, even in the difficult moments.  And that brings me tears of happiness too, that despite the struggle, a handful people of can see the prevailing goodness in Sissy and AB that I see.

The house isn't sold.  I don't think it will sell until I can do some significant repairs to the exterior.  I can't do significant repairs until I have more solvency so that is the current goal, make money, fix the house, try again.  I want to be out of here for the simple fact that it currently financially connects me to my ex.  I need this divorce to be done, it has been two and a half years of misery AFTER the fact!  With strong encouragement, I finally got the strength to dismiss my ex from my house with the exception of the overnight weekends the divorce decree orders him in my home every other month.  That is another goal, to save money for a lawyer so I can go back to court and change that as well.  If in two and a half years,  a grown man can't get on his feet and establish himself in such a way that his children can come visit him in HIS home or to pay his child support in a timely fashion, then he isn't going to.  He never will.  I'm done.  Running away to a state 750 miles from here isn't going to change him and it isn't going to give me the strength to grow some cahones and deal with his shit head on.  So I stand firm.  I take back my power.  Just as I want my student to see that he can, I am learning that I can.  I CAN!  I am.

All that remains then, is what becomes of Sissy and AB as they rapidly approach that golden number, 18.  Once they are 18, the game changes for disabled persons and no matter how I shuffle the cards, all of the other factors, needs and wants seem to be met in my current place EXCEPT what becomes of those two as they transition to adulthood.  I love them, I do, but I can't parent them for the rest of my life.  I want them to have autonomy in whatever degree is possible for them and frankly, I want freedom from this burden.  No mother is meant to parent functional 5 and 8 year old children endlessly.  That isn't my calling.  So, with 3.5 and 4.5 years respectively for these two, I have a little time to sort it out.  Thus, I breathe.

The pivotal moment for me this summer was two days after our lake weekend when my student sat at my table, having heard that we had to conclude tutoring a little early because a realtor was showing the house directly afterward and we all had to clear out.  Still on the heart warming wave of joy from the time away, he asked me who would help him if my house sold and I moved away.  That's when I realized he stole my heart, ran off with it like a wild banshee shouting ollie-ollie-oxen-free! and that I couldn't possibly leave now.  I'm all in.  Reduced me to tears, that one did.  Or maybe I'm just a weepy, blubbering mess?  Longest I've made it since last November without tears is seven days.

Nah.  I'm all in.  Damnit.

WG has started cross country so I signed up to be a volunteer parent. Tonight is timed trials and her first meet is on the 23rd.  So, I am running now too which makes me laugh.  Guess what?  I LIKE it.  *shaking head at self*  Between swimming and running, in one week I logged 11 miles.  And I'm now at 57 pounds lost and counting.  New me?  Oh yeah.  What a life.

Time to write that book some of you have been begging me to write.

There is one more "want" on my list.  I wait patiently for that one too.  The winds of change are blowing gently, bringing warmth, life and hope.  Soon.  It will come.

[1] rajani patel is an alter ego I created several years ago so I don't go batshit crazy when I'm mad.  Rajani comes out and I keep my cool...mostly. :D


Anonymous said...

Hooray! :) So happy for you. It sounds like you're taking control of the things that you can change, and making peace with the things you can't. Way to go! :)

Sending happy thoughts your way.

Jgirl said...

You ROCK! It is so wonderful to sense the peace you are starting to experience :-)