Sometimes there is not enough chocolate in the shake to right the wrongs of the world. I curse myself for not having any chips in the house and where the hell did I stash the Nutella? Currently, my tastebuds must tolerate freezer burnt Tin Roof Sundae. I am a shitty mom. There…I said it. Not always, but enough that when I leave a store with a raging toddler in tow or when I hang my head in shame as my two year old melts down at the church potluck I know the eyes in the room locked their gazes on us. And those gazes teem with judgment. And I feel absolutely rotten as a parent those days.
Today I woke up knowing I needed to call the power company to prevent a shut off, I realized I paid one bill TWICE, and I looked up how much money I could get for donating plasma. I took two calls from collections and threw expired food out as if I didn’t feel incredibly guilt in doing so. Today a sweet man emptied my dishwasher, took out the trash, and brought me to the park to watch the geese. But I couldn’t settle my heart or enjoy the kind gestures—my inability to accomplish anything coursed through my veins like caustic material hijacking my life force. Being a shitty mom weighed me down today.
Now I know many people will stop me here and provide kind words of encouragement. They will build me up reminding me I parent a toddler, for goodness sakes, alone! They will tell me to keep my head up despite the circumstance and situations thrust upon me as a result of divorce. I will cordially thank them and feel guilty for whining. Here’s the deal. A few weeks ago a wonderful man, Dr. Wayne Thomas, came to visit my school to teach students about never giving up hope and accepting one’s lot in life as an opportunity to reshape your world. He reminded them to take accountability for their crimes, to work on restoring the harm they generated, to stop blaming the situations they encountered for their path. Dr. Wayne aimed to share his own experience as a convicted felon to demonstrate to students that jail is not the end of the road for them. He spoke at length about hope. The boys shrouded themselves in artificial apathy—each one a touch inspired. I gleaned a lot from Dr. Wayne’s realism and inspiring approach. However two items stuck with me: stop complaining and blaming the situation because in the end no one really cares until you change it and determine if you are either interested or committed to something. What does he mean? Interest means one may like the idea of blogging; commitment is the notion one would crawl through fire to obtain authorship. This changed my world— I can’t complain about my situation. Who cares? All I can do is change my view on how I handle it.
This week I taught a portion of Jim Carrey’s 2014 Commencement speech wherein he stated, “Hope is a beggar.” I cannot agree more. Sitting around hoping is like standing on the corner asking for loose change and expecting pennies to pay the mortgage. I determined while composing this very piece I cannot wait for hope to balance my acerbic mood. Hope will certainly not keep the lights on or the collections agency from calling. Hope doesn’t propose marriage nor does hope take out the trash. Commitment to change does. Let me announce my commitments rather than express my interests in improving my life’s circumstance: bankruptcy, work ethic, and drinking more water. I met with an attorney to liquidate as a means of survival— simply eliminating bills to creditors opens up the possibility for me to reclaim a financially reasonable life. Work ethic: I can’t miss deadlines, forget papers, lose papers due to disorganization. I know my passion for education carries into the classroom, but my behind the scenes work needs improvement. My cart will stroll through the hallways tidy and efficient rather than a heaping mess of documents ready to drift through the breezeway. I need to be ten minutes early even if that drastically changes my current routines. Drink more water. Silly, but imperative. Water detoxifies the body, provides nourishment, and keeps me from drinking an entire pot of coffee a day. Water costs nothing and I relish the ice. And here’s where my shitty parenting comes back into play in this week’s reflection.
I know I can parent better—I feel a deep commitment to my role. But I also know my son loves the best of me and the most vulnerable parts of me. A mother and son’s relationship is intangible— I contend more so as a single mother. Holden can act shitty in public, he can throw tantrums and demands around like confetti, and he can poop pickles for the next two days and I still love that stinker. It’s just been he and I from the beginning and I can’t teach him what my boys believe in jail school: the impoverished situation in which they were born into serves as a license to behave poorly and harm others. No…I plan to teach Holden what I learned from the admirable Dr. Wayne and the ineffable Mr. Carrey, “I don’t think human beings learn anything without desperation. Desperation is a necessary ingredient to learning anything or creating anything. Period. If you ain’t desperate at some point, you ain’t interesting.” Holden and I serve as interesting anecdotes to the experiences of parenting in isolation. And I feel in my bones, in my core’s core, in the deep chakras I don’t quite understand yet that Mr. Carrey’s words have captured my new perspective: “The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. Everything you gain will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what is in your heart.” Love doesn’t pay the bills, however, it heals a whole lotta hurts.
So now I still have no chocolate, I never did find that Nutella, but I did get to snuggle while watching Dumbo sweetly sleep in his mother’s embrace.