About a week ago, I quietly snapped. It had been one of those days, which many of my recent days have resembled; wrong in every way at some point or another. I’m aware of it, the cloud of weighted sadness. It dissipates briefly throughout the day yet never seems to disappear. There is just so much going on in my life that my mind is struggling to keep up. The realization of this weakness makes me disappointed in myself . . . which makes the weight even heavier. This isn’t me. I know it. Unfortunately for now, that is as far as I can venture.
This particular day, I’d already braved the cold weather for groceries when I later realized I still needed diapers. I’d likely forgotten them in my foggy state. Instantly angry. The tiredness from not sleeping well the night before was not helping. And try as he might, neither was my husband. Everything he did was getting on my last nerve. I could see that he was trying, and I felt bad for thinking that his trying was not enough in the moment. It was not his fault. It’s hard to give a woman what she wants when she is not completely sure what that is.
I decided I would go out for the diapers, even though it was still cold, starting to get late and now raining. My plan was to drive ‘two Targets away’, passing the closest Target in favor of a slightly longer drive. I’d hope the drive would help me think, or not think, or at least give me time to cool off. I drove in silence. No music, no podcast, just the sound of the rain. I drove south down the highway, and when I got to the exit for the Target, I could not bring myself to stop. I just kept driving further south into the darkness until I realized what I wanted. I finally slowed to turn down cemetery road. The old rural cemetery was pitch black, the kind of black it only gets in the country. I was scared of what snakes I was sure were on the other side of the gate, but I’d driven all the way there in the rain. So, I got out. I walked up to the gate and faced in the direction of my grandmother’s plot.
“I don’t know how to be like you,” I cried. “I’m so guarded. I wasn’t always, but I am now.” I thought about how I’d gotten to this place. I thought about how, at her funeral, everyone who got up to speak claimed they were her best friend or sister, whether or not that was true. I thought about how hearing all the fond, funny memories made me realize I didn’t have enough close people around me nearly as much as I would have like to. I thought about when that change in me started to occur, when had I put those walls up?
I thought about my emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend, the one I never talk about. I thought about how, though he never physically hurt me, obviously damage had been done. I thought about how little I valued myself when that relationship was over. I thought about my husband, and what a miracle it was that he’d found me when he did. And suddenly, my thoughts turned to my sons, all of them. I thought about my first son, who I’d lost to complications shortly after he was born. I thought about the walls I put up then. So many walls. I thought about my living sons, and how glad I was to have them. I thought about how I currently felt I wasn’t able to give them what they needed. My oldest boy is so bright and bubbly. At three, he’s ready for school. . . but my finances are not. At least not ready to put him in a place that’d be attentive enough to help his genius blossom. Why is decent childcare so astronomically priced? I thought about my sweet, youngest son who is bright as well. I thought about how he wasn’t meeting all of his developmental milestones and how I’m still figuring out what that even means. I felt like I was barely keeping up with the kid who’s likely literally a genius, so how could I manage the demands of a kid who may need extra help and attention?
And why was I here, anyway? Why not crying all this emotion out to my own my Mom? Well, she’s been so desperately missing the lady who was buried a few feet away from where I was standing – her own Mom. She’s put on a brave face, but when she started avoiding happy gatherings of friends and family because she felt guilty feeling happy – and avoiding sad gatherings like funerals because she felt scared of being even more sad – I figured the less I take to her the better. I knew it would crush her to learn that this was how I felt. After all, she’s my Mom and she is supposed to have all of my answers even when she doesn’t. Except, no one can do that. It’s hard to be Mom when just that word sadly reminds you that yours is no longer here. It’s hard to be Mom when you feel like yours is here, but somehow not. It’s hard to be Mom when you fight to have happy healthy children, only to learn the limitations of what you can do for them. It’s hard to be Mom. It’s hard to be, period!
And so I waited. Waited from some magical answer from Barbara Jean, my pull-no-punches Maw Maw who always told it like it was. What would she do if she were here? And in the rain I realized, she wouldn’t be. She wouldn’t be miles from home at someone’s gravesite in the dark and rain. She wouldn’t be so far away from the perceived problems that needed fixing. She wouldn’t be so focused on death and despair – although she was the living obituary column and real-time announcer of who had recently passed in the three neighboring counties. She’d be living the hell out of life somewhere. She’d be singing about Jesus and talking smack about everybody else. She would be being her unapologetic self. “Okay, Maw Maw,” I thought as I exhaled. In her own way she’d pointed back in the right direction. Home. To work on what I needed to fix, to be with who was important and to make my life the kind that I’d be proud to have recalled in my absence. I got back in my car. The rain had slacked, or at least it seemed that way to me. I stopped by that Target, and grabbed diapers and a Dr. Pepper . . . my Maw Maw’s favorite soda. I smiled as I sipped it on the way to a good night’s sleep.
Author: Alicia Brownell
Author Bio: Alicia is Creator-In-Chief of SEIZE worthy; a Brand Strategy & Publicity firm that focuses on purpose-preneurs and community. This entrepreneur also juggles the duties of motherhood, wifedom, and several passion projects. Sharing insights and supporting causes that are close to her heart – especially infant loss awareness – Alicia emphasizes seizing every moment!
Link to social media or website: https://abseize.com