As a modern woman I have always liked the idea that I could have it all…a family complete with kids, loving partner, work that fulfilled me, you get the picture. Yet in the past several days I have been grappling with a low level malaise and sudden realization that at least for me (I refuse to speak for anyone else) that simply is not possible. Now I am grappling with the idea of how do I achieve balance if it is not possible to have it all? The truth is I don’t know. Yet I do know that time is not unlimited, while in today’s world 40 is the new 20 and we see 65 or so as young. The hard truth remains that none of us know how much time we will have on this planet in these bodies. We like to think that if we do XYZ that there will always be time later to do ABC, but as I learned firsthand 7 years ago, life turns on a dime and one day you are here and the next minute you are gone. Tomorrow will mark 7 years since my Mom’s untimely death, 4 days after turning 50. In many ways her death is directly responsible for my daughter being here now, I realized that one can not put off for tomorrow in order to accomplish today.
Yet I have a confession to make…in many ways I am not a good mother. Oh, I am here but often times I am not present. I should know better after all I effectively missed a great deal of my son’s childhood as I was striving for more. I was a mere 19 when he was born and instead of reveling in his childhood, I spent the first several years locked in a custody war. Later on, listening to bad advice, I allowed him to live with his father assuming that my ex would tire of being a full time Daddy and that he would send him back and that we would have more time together. That never happened and we never did get that time. Oh, I did eventually move to Maine to be involved but as always I thought I had more time. Within 6 months of the move to Maine, I started graduate school effectively juggling work, school, marriage and parenthood…looking back I don’t think it worked and it wasn’t worth it.
See, my son is all grown up now, half way through his first year of college and while despite the stresses and challenges we faced, we are close but part of my soul knows I missed out on a lot. Time that I will never get back. Oh, I do meaningful work, I have spent the past 15 years working with those most in need, originally women breaking free of addictions and prostitution and now for the past two and a half years as head of an agency that works with low income families. That’s great but the cost to my family has been too much. Through my meditation practice of late I am realizing that I spend a lot of time not being present and living in the moment. Instead one eye is always checking for the emails that never stop coming in, truth is the nature of my work there is always someone in need, a fire to put out. I do my job and do it well but it comes at the expense of my family and mostly my daughter. I realized this the other day as I did something I have not done in years; I went the entire day not turning on my cell phone. I was present for the entire day and it was a good thing.
Lately I find myself daydreaming about quitting my job, oh I have a plan for the future and I am working on it but really it will take a few years before I make a full transition into life coaching. I find myself wondering do I have a few years to spend being only half present with my family. My girl is most likely my last child for a number of reasons, so this is it…do I want another child who only gets half a mommy? Oh, I have no intentions of becoming a stay at home mom that is not for me…I tried for the first year of the girl’s life. Also being married to a freelance writer/editor we need the second income but lately I find myself thinking I need work that requires less of me. I am passionate about the unfortunate but now I need to spend some passion on my own family.
Time is the one thing that when we use it we don’t always get a do-over and more importantly ultimately none of knows just how much time we really have. So all I can do is be present in these moments and enjoy the time now.
PS: Hey, if you know of any part time gigs for a writer/non-profit administrator/adjunct instructor holla at a sista! If you have serious leads I am open to hearing them, feel free to email me.
4 thoughts on “Time is gone and I was a bad mommy”
First of all, you have got to stop beating yourself up out it. You’ll never get that time back but your son is fine, handsome, alive, in college. From what you have told us, he adjusted well. We can shoulda, coulda, woulda from now until the end of days and we still wouldn’t know what would have happened. You could have raised him here and lost him here. You see what boredom and low income living can do to a kid. Instead of you helping someone else’s troubled kids, someone could have been helping yours because you were working the 80 jobs we have to work to here just to pay the oil man.
I also guess you could be kicking yourself in the ass forreals if he were on a Beyond Scared Straight episode doing 15 years telling his story to at-risk kids but he’s not. You have a wonderful relationship. This is how it was supposed to be. Not everything goes how we plan. Trust me I know. But we have to roll with and deal with it the best way we can.
And he has you to look up too. You might not like your job but you have been successful at it. You set out to do what you thought you needed to do and you did it. It’s not like you got hooked on meth and heroine and he’s coming to visit you in jail and all your dreams have disappeared along with your teeth!
All I can say now you’re at a point in your life where you have to make another big decision that’s going to impact everything you do so just do it with awareness (I get that saying from the yoga man on my dvd) and put aside money for the oil man-because he will break you off something fierce!-and keep it moving. You only have one life, live it the best way you can.
No more posts about your lack of mothering skills. You know I’m lazy and gas price are bananas, don’t make me drive out there to give you the Chris Rock shake.
I’m kinda feeling like it’s hard to have it all, too. I’ve gone back and forth for a while now on whether or not I think it’s a good job for me to have kids if I’m really serious about what my life’s work is.
I want to work with at risk youth and I worry so much about the time dedication it would require that would be at the expense of my kids…
I’ve always been rather indifferent about having them, but feeling like I almost have to choose makes it all different.
The kids who I work with are at risk and its really hard on me, harder than when I worked with the homeless. They drain me and then I come home to my own kid. You are very wise to be thinking about this.
Just a couple of thoughts in response to this post
In regards to the concept of not enough time,
“We all have all the time there is.”
It’s just a question of what we chose to give it to
In regards to having it all, my mantra is
“I can do anything I want. I just can’t do everything I want… ”
You made choices that, at the time, seemed like the best choices possible. You were doing your best with what you had, so looking back and second guessing yourself now will only suck the life out of you to no good purpose.
The question is, are you doing what’s most important to you (not someone else) now?
I found that finding my Life Mission gave me a better handle on that. If you’re interested in finding your Life Mission, I have number of posts on that on my blog and I invite you to come visit and check them out for your self
Most of all, I wish you peace in your heart and a star to steer by…
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