When you’re a single mother, your plans can never be written in stone, and that’s okay. There are other treasures to be found when you put your needs aside. I discovered this again tonight.
A friend called earlier this week and asked me to go to Ladies’ Night Out tonight. I rarely get to go out and to go out during the week??? I haven’t done that since my college days almost 20 years ago, but we’d be back by 8pm and I was looking forward to it.
Then reality hit.
Tonight was also the night our library was hosting a free “Reduce College Finances” class and since my business is college prep, I wanted to attend the seminar. The Ladies Night Out would have to wait. This was work, and I enjoyed it too.
And this job was how I was going to prevent my children from sinking into years of poverty that strikes so many single parent families. This was how I was going to make life okay for all of us.
And then reality hit…again.
I was late getting home from work and discovered the chicken I had taken out of the freezer was bad. We get “dated meat” from a pastor in town who picks it up from a local grocery store. I try not to think about this most of the time. Without this donation, we would not have meat and I truly appreciate it, but I try to be choosy because sometimes it is more “dated” than even my lowered standards can swallow. This was one of those times, and I ended up throwing it out.
I scrambled and found a bit of leftover ham and whipped up a casserole. As soon as that was in the oven, I rushed to the middle school to pick up Matt from soccer.
Back home, I was almost ready to go to the college prep seminar when I stopped to give last minute instructions to Troy and the boys on what to do while I was gone and to quickly help George with his homework.
George has been struggling with his schoolwork and tonight seemed to be exceedingly difficult for him. He needed help with reading and math and studying for a social studies test.
Noah, as usual, had put off his homework (after telling me it was done and turning on a movie-grrr….!). He also had a difficult assignment and needed help. I would find more of what caused Noah’s meltdown Friday.
Kaleb saw that I was getting ready to go out and threw himself to the ground sobbing uncontrollably. He has begun to cling to me when I have to leave him. It’s the worst when I have to give him to his father. He wraps his little arms around my neck and says, “No Mommy. Home.” I have to tell him I can’t take him home with me and that he is going to have a wonderful time with his father in a cheery voice when all I want to do is hold him and make his little world okay.
So, there I was ready to go to the college prep night and feeling only slightly bad about missing Ladies’ Night Out, when I looked at my children. Kaleb sobbing broken hearted on the floor, Noah angry about having to do his “stupid homework,” telling me that I am not the boss of him (for only about the millionth time tonight), George putting on a brave face and saying it was okay. He’d figure his homework out, and Troy looking at me with that You’re-leaving-me-with-these-kids-you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me look plastered across his young teenage face. I don’t even know where Matt was.
And that’s when reality hit – hard!
I wasn’t going anywhere tonight. I was staying right there with my children. With all of them needing me at once it would be difficult, but it would be done.
George would get his homework done since he was willing to work and is an amazing kid. Noah would do all but the last problem; I’ll try to remember to do that with him tomorrow morning. Kaleb would get Mommy to hold his hand until he fell asleep – a rare occurrence since I work so much but one we both needed tonight. Troy and Matt would get to be semi-normal 14 and 12 year olds.
They would do their homework, their after dinner chores, and then they would get to sit in front of the World Series game. I still didn’t get to talk with them about their day or school or soccer. I hope they know I love them and that wish I could sit and watch the game with them. Time is what I want more than anything.
Troy is 14. I should be asking him about girls and drinking and texting and such. Matt is not far behind. With five kids, I just don’t have time to do everything that needs to be done and they are getting the short end of the stick. We all are.
And I allow myself to briefly wonder what their father is thinking? What he and his girlfriend are doing right now that is more important than homework and soccer and watching the World Series together with his boys?
And then I realize it doesn’t matter.
And I would give up my dreams of becoming the world’s most informed college planner and my hopes of pulling my kids out of poverty and of proving to the world (and myself) that I could do this.
Instead, I would put a smile on my face and make the best of our life. After all, it wasn’t so bad. So what if I didn’t get to go to Ladies’ Night Out? So what if I didn’t get to improve my mind or meet new people or make connections I was hoping to use to form another college prep class next spring? I mean that sincerely.
I was not giving up my dreams. I was putting them on hold. I would go to the library, make the phone calls, meet one on one and learn the information I had missed. I would research on my own and ask questions. I would still succeed and so would my students and so would my children and there would be no excuses.
I find working with my children challenges me sometimes and so it does improve my mind and also my heart. Tonight I made connections that are infinitely more valuable than money and formal education. Tonight my dreams will be of five smiling, peace-filled faces and one little boy whose last memory of the day will be that his mother held his hand until he slept.
Really? Could life get any better?
Yet he did not put the sons of the assassins to death, in accordance with what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses where the LORD commanded: “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sins.”