I have been a single Mom since September of 2015.
On a beautiful fall day that September my husband of nine years took his own life while our children, ages 4 and 1 1/2, and I played at the playground that is only blocks away from our home. A playground that he had to pass on his way to the land where he would cease to exist on this earth.
This is the day that I became a widow and was thrown into the world of not only being a single parent, but being the only parent.
That first year of my single parenthood was messy. I'm not going to sugar coat it and tell you that it was anything but pure pain, tears, and me ending up crying in the bathroom when I just couldn't handle the levels of stress and anxiety that were coursing through my mind and body. Slowly I learned to just let myself cry, to write my grief, build up my boundaries, and put me and my children first so that I could heal. I knew that I had to take action inside of my pain. The fact that I was the only parent left fueled me into learning on my own how to heal my heart. My children had already been through an unspeakable tragedy and now I was going to make sure that their Mother made it out on the other side...hopeful, joyful, and full of purpose because they deserve no less than all the stars in the sky.
When my husband died I lost a bit of the mother in me that I always wanted to be. I could no longer fully live up to my own outrageous expectations. Why? Because grief of this magnitude will make you tired. It will take away your joy. It will leave you not caring if the laundry is piling up or if the kids are eating microwave dinners. But it will also make you see so clearly what truly matters in life. Does it matter if my children always eat organic? Does it matter if their clothes are never wrinkled? Does it matter if their rooms and our home are always tidy? Death will show you that none of that is what matters. That's all surface stuff and to let it go is to be free.
I was trying so hard just to figure out how to heal my heart, heal my children's hearts, and make sure that I was a present and happy parent for them that none of the other stuff mattered. I would cry all the time. I was overwhelmed daily. I already was used to taking care of our children by myself as I was a stay-at-home/work-from-home parent, but this stuff? This solo parenting? This is olympic style parenting. There is no other parent coming home at 5:00pm so you can go cry in the bathroom for 5 minutes, or fold laundry alone, or fall down in a heap and nap for an hour. There's no other parent. There is just silence in the space of time when he would normally come home from work. And there's me brewing up another pot of coffee so that I could keep up with our kids for another few hours before bedtime.
My children and I got through this time together. They were grieving. I was grieving. We grieved together. They would tell me things like, "Mama! You are one strong Papa!" And that would lift my spirits and make me have hope that while I cannot fill all the roles that their Dad would have, I sure can rise up and try to be the best version of me that I can be every day. Am I super woman? Oh gosh....No. I'm just a Mom. Just a Mom who loves her kids like we all do....."To the moon and back a billion times".
Something started to slowly shift within my grieving journey. A year passed. I found natural modalities to heal my grief. I keep my boundaries around toxic relationships. I found my spirituality. I let go of things that were dragging me down.
I found my purpose, my truth, through my writing. I started to Yes...."Get my groove back".
I'm not that woman, that Mom, that was on that playground that beautiful September day listening to the laughter of her children on a warm breeze, wondering what she would cook her family for dinner at 5:00pm, while her husband lay dying. That woman is gone. Parts of her remain in my memory, in my heart, and in my life but I am a re-born version of myself. This tragedy gave me a second chance. A second chance biography.
No, I'm not the Mom that I had previously always dreamed I would be. I have risen up. I have risen up and broken open and become more compassionate, more honest, more real, more me. And in so many hundreds of ways that actually makes me the Mom my children need. In so many ways that makes me believe that this.....this woman, this Mom that I am right now today in this very moment is actually the Mom that I was always meant to be.