After my daughter and I figured out the mistake she made, I realized that the short drive to her celebration dinner had turned into a long drive to a restaurant of the same name 45 minutes away.
She and her camp friends had planned a celebratory dinner for the end of camp, since many of them don't see each other during the school year. Our ride was pretty silent as she knew that I was really not happy about the change in location. My original plan was to drive her the agreed upon 5 minutes, then return to my neighbor's house where I had left my cold rum punch to finish on my return.
That plan was lost when the thought of driving to the destination, then home, then back to pick her up and then back home would have turned into a literal all night affair. I was tired from the week of work, so I smiled and told her to have a good time as I gave her money and turned the corner, telling her to text when she was done with the celebration.
Feeling absolutely lost and completely alone, I figured I would get some dinner and avoid the multiple trips back and forth. I probably could have joined her, but I wanted to give her the evening that she had asked for, a fun evening with her friends, not her mother. I looked at my sad outfit that had been planned for lounging, not socializing, and decided I was much better off not feeling any worse about myself that I had been feeling lately. Joining her and her friends was not an option for me.
After turning my bag upside down and locating some quarters for the parking meter, I walked until I found a restaurant that was not full of people. I was surrounded by a flood of feelings that I had not felt in some time. I felt alone, and lonely. I felt vulnerable and truly sad. All of a sudden, my youngest child was old enough to not need me in order to sit down with her friends. I was seeing my future and it looked pretty bleak.
What happens when the "single mom" title is something that I can no longer hide behind? Have I been hiding? Have I used the ever continuing needs of my children to stunt my own growth and suppress my own needs? Sitting in that restaurant, alone, was too much for me. I picked up my wallet and phone, and ran out as if I had stolen something. I could see the staff looking at each other out of the corner of my eye.
I couldn't do it. I couldn't sit there alone and not cry. I refused to sit there and cry, so I ran.
Weeks later it seems like a bad dream. I felt like the same cast off that I felt like after the divorce and I apparently had not done much to prepare myself for life after children. In my mind, my "forever role" was single mother. I could not see beyond it to "single person", or even just "person".
I ended up eating sushi in the car, alone. Big thoughts, big ideas swirling in my head. What if... What now... Why? How can I..... So many questions, back to stage 1. My ex has moved on. My kids are growing and learning their way. Even my mom has passed on. I was feeling used up and unneeded. What was my role to be? What is my future to be?
Can I start again at 50? What do I want to be when my kids grow up?
Have I cheated myself by not thinking of these questions all along?
Simple answer, I don't know.
Possibilities? I guess so. I must have some ideas about how not to feel that way again. It's time to pretend I am helping someone else. I seem to better at helping others than helping myself.
That simple evening out was transitional somehow. If nothing else was clear to me that evening, one thing has certainly become clear since then... It is not good to allow yourself to forget the many facets to your identity and focus only on being a single mother.
Time will move on, and at one point, you will be something other than the single mom.
I think I owe myself an apology.