As I look back on pictures over the last 20 years that I have been a single mother, I realize how many moments I missed because either I was not present physically or mentally.
As I sit here digging through my photo album, I am grateful that I even have these pictures at all. So many moments I cannot even remember being in.
And yet, I am indeed looking at photos that I am in! Though I couldn’t afford to take my kids on any real vacations, we did do day trips.
Places like museums, Disneyland, the Zoo, San Diego … I was there for all of them. The kids are smiling as they hold the toys they got at the LA Zoo shop or Disneyland Star Wars store, but my memories default to making sure I had enough to cover entry fees, food for all of us, snacks along the way and a toy.
The preparation for these day trips was nothing short of NASA planning a space launch. The dates always had to coincide with pay day. Though I am glad that whatever I could do in giving my kids some days of fun, I did.
But when I look back, I realize I didn’t have the same joyful days they did. And that makes me mad at myself. I didn’t feel that joy because I allowed myself to be stressed more than happy. Anxious more than peaceful. In looking back yes, I see that I had to make sure I had the money to cover the excursion, but the reality is … I had the money to cover the excursion!
Are You Worrying Your Memories & Experiences Away?
So why the heck didn’t I allow myself to feel the joy of the day too?
I guess in my mind, if I relaxed, I would drop something. Or something bad would happen because I took my eye off the impending doom that could happen. It didn’t. And it didn’t every time.
“Today I escaped anxiety.
Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me… in my own perceptions – not outside.”
When I was married, we had a Nanny for the kids because we both worked full time. She was a wonderful woman who loved the kids as if they were her own. And they were. When my ex-husband left us for another woman, my daughter was just 4 weeks old and my son was 4 years old. I was able to keep our wonderful nanny with us until my daughter was 6 years old.
Within those years both my Nanny and I suffered through her affordability. Often times she had to wait on her pay for me to coordinate with my paychecks. The child support I received was about $300 per child per month. That amount doesn’t go far while living in Los Angeles. So, it hardly helped cover it.
Many would say that I should let her go right away. But the peace of mind that I got from having her was worth any stress I endured in keeping her. I had to travel in my job, and she was stability for them; and for me. I mention this at all because as I continue my journey through the photo albums, I see many pictures of my kids that I was not in at all. I just wasn’t there.
They are the pictures of park parties and play dates that my nanny was there for and these are the pictures she shared with me. I wasn’t there because I was working, working, working. I missed a lot. But I am grateful they were there and that our Nanny gave that to them. I am grateful they had those fun days.
They experienced it and they are memories for them to cherish and photos for them to have.
I was gone a lot both physically and mentally and it is hard to look back on the past twenty years and feel like I was rarely present at all. I know I was, but that is the parting gift a single parent is left with.
Perhaps it’s just my guilt for creating so much stress in order to just keep up.
I was after all the only single parent in my kid’s social world of friends. Single moms are always crisis managing the moments we are in and planning for the future ones. Or so it feels.
We juggle juggle juggle. But what I learned all those years ago, is that you can experience your life with your children. All you have to do is allow yourself. It’s really okay to be joyful. Get off the roller coaster and just be present with your children!
Our nanny who is still very much a part of our family came over the other night. It was her birthday and we wanted to celebrate her. She told me that she had voice messages that she saved from my daughter.
She played one when she was about 9 years old. My daughter is now 21. That sweet little voice that I had forgotten the sound of instantly made me emotional. She was so innocent sounding. So joyful and sweet. I longed to hug that little girl and be present for her while she was still 9 years old.
“Life is a journey, along different roads, different paths, which leave their mark on you.”
How I raised my kids was not the picture I had when they were born. In fact, I could never have seen that coming. I married the wrong man and he married the wrong woman. That’s the first moral of the story. I think that’s the foundation of my perpetual worry of raising a family alone.
How could I have made such a bad choice?
I cannot make any more bad decisions, too much is at stake. I have indeed struggled with that. But I also allowed so much to shadow my life and spent so many many days and nights worried to a point that rest eluded me on every level.
So, I say this lovingly… stop worrying your memories and experiences away!
Yes, being a single mom is darn hard! But that just goes with the territory. You have the right to enjoy your children and they have the right to see you joyful too! Don’t do what I did. Don’t be 20 years down the road looking at photo albums and feel sadness that you allowed the selfish actions of the wrong man to alter your mind to a point where you stopped living your best days.
Discard the worry when you are present with your children.
Discard the guilt and regret.
You don’t get a do-over with your kids. They just keep growing. And if you approach your life in a healthy, worry free way, you will too!
Give yourself the most loving gift you can. Be present every day of the life of your growing family. And note to self… just make a better choice in men the next time!
- Live in the Moment
- Experience Your Life