One Step Forward Two Back
Just when I think I have this whole single mom thing down, I realize I don’t. I thought that life was chugging along fairly well. There are changes on the horizon for us that are exciting. But I am not “chugging along fairly well.” My younger three children are a mess and I can’t seem to get the professional help I need to help them work through their grief. They are too young (two 8.5 yr olds and a 7 yr old) to really know how to express their feelings about their dad dying. They are angry, they are whining a lot, they are disrespectful, and downright hateful toward each other and toward me. I have one child with definite attachment disorder issues, and yet we have visited two psychologists since adopting him almost two years ago, and neither one took our concerns very seriously. I’ve tried to have the younger three receive some grief counseling, only to be told by said counselors that at their age, they may not be ready to process their grief for six to nine months following the loss of a parent. Great. That doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving and that I don’t have to deal with the fallout from it. It just means I am supposed to suck it up and wait until the “right” time.
Two nights ago, when a girlfriend called me to pray the Nighttime Prayer of the Divine Office, all I could do was sob on the phone to her. It’s not that I don’t love my children, I do. It’s also not that I don’t know exactly where this is all coming from because I do. It’s just that it’s so constant, so exhausting, and so emotionally consuming. My kids have always had issues related to their adoption histories, but I always had a release valve when it all got to be too much for me. His name was “My Love.” Whenever their bickering, sassing, disobedience and disrespect got to be too much for me, I could turn to him and say, “I just have to get out of here for an hour or two,” and he’d say he had my back, and out the door I’d go to the grocery store alone, or to Starbucks to drink ice tea and read a little bit. Then I’d come home with a clearer head, refreshed spirit, and ready to sit down with whoever the offenders were to work out how we can have a better day tomorrow. Sometimes, I would need to apologize for my words and ask their forgiveness. Now, however, I have no release valve. It’s just me and in my stress and yes, anger, my words are not what should be spoken by a woman of my age and supposed maturity. I yell a lot more than I want to. I have to apologize so many times for yelling that I don’t think my children really believe that I am sorry even though I end up in my room in a puddle of tears feeling like a wretch every.single.time. Sometimes I get self-righteous and think “why am I the one feeling so badly when ____ is the one that was being so disrespectful to me and challenging my authority?”
It strikes me then, that this is how I treat God. I treat him as my children treat me. I challenge his authority in my life, I say “No!” to him when it comes to acts of obedience, and I always think that I know better what I need for myself and want to disregard his wisdom. Yet, God never yells at me. He never loses patience with me, and he never needs a “release valve” where he turns to Jesus and says, “Hey, I can’t take this woman anymore. She’s rude, disrespectful, and ungrateful. I just need a time-out from her.” Thank goodness he never says that! I know that I am supposed to be modeling Christ to my kids. I know that I am supposed to love them as Christ loves them. I try and fail miserably. Maybe one or two days a week I can honestly say at the end of the day, “I did it. I loved them even when they were unlovable. I showed them love, patience, kindness, generosity, and respect.” Most days, however, if I gave myself a grade I’d get a “D” at best. I am so thankful for the sacraments to turn to in hopes of the grace to have a better day tomorrow. One step forward, two steps back. That’s my life.
~ The Reluctant Widow