This morning as I was leisurely lying in bed and looking at my phone, after waking up from a nightmare at 5 a.m. where I was on The People’s Court sporting a blonde mullet, I read a blog post from Menopausal Mommy. Her message to the world was “Love like your life depends on it.” I started to contemplate what it would look like to love like your life depends on it when my son came in at 6:15 a.m. stating that he was “awake before it was time to get up” and wanted to call his cousins. I sent him to his room to watch his iPad, told Alexa to awake me up at 7, and tried to do some meditation.
So this week has not been exactly what I’d planned. I recognize of course, that this week is not exactly like anyone had planned, however, this is the first week of my leave from work after my husband passed away. He passed away in January after battling ALS for three long years. I expected that after he died I would just collapse, but I didn’t. I planned the funeral, I organized the house, I did the paperwork, and then I went back to work. I was living in crisis mode and I just kept doing the next thing. Eventually it started getting harder and harder to get out of bed and to concentrate at work, and I began to realize if I didn’t take a break I was going to collapse. So I requested a six-week leave that started March 23 and anticipated my five-year-old son would be able to go to daycare during the day so I could rest. And then the Corona-virus came and then the order to stay at home came … so here we are together, in the house, for three weeks. Thanks Universe!
Now, I recognize this is hardly just about me and that I am incredibly fortunate to be safe in a home with food and the ability to still receive a paycheck, and to connect with family and friends using amazing technology. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who are sick, who are losing loved ones, and to those who are financially impacted by all of this. This is a tragic time for the entire world and I don’t want to make light of the devastation it is causing; and staying inside my comfortable home is a minimal sacrifice to stop this disease. I also know that this is going to be hard and “loving like my life depends on it” is complicated when it comes to my five-year-old son. Not because I don’t love him, I love him with every fiber of my being, yet he is also the one who tests the limits of my patience and has the power to make me say things I never thought I would say.
When my husband was alive and I was caring for him in our home, I couldn’t be the parent I wanted to be to our son. There were so many needs to meet so when somebody wanted something I just did it without thinking. Needs were just fires to be put out so there would be peace. All of us were suffering from the disease in our own ways and my son and I experienced the trauma of seeing our husband/father slowly dying. It was a dark time and I became my son’s mother, playmate, comforter and friend. Now I am trying to reestablish myself as Mom and it is so hard to balance showing him compassion and boundaries at the same time.
Yesterday we decided to watch Onward the new movie from Pixar. It was well done, but what I didn’t realize was the father had died from a disease and the youngest son didn’t remember him. At the end, I couldn’t help but cry and had to go into the kitchen to hide from my son. He doesn’t like to see me cry and I didn’t want to upset him. We went outside later and he found a piece of sidewalk chalk and was drawing pictures. When I asked him about them, he said they were pictures of Daddy who died, of him crying and of me crying.
I stopped and thought that maybe my healing is not to be done on my own but to be done with my son and maybe “loving like your life depends on it” is not loving perfectly, but loving as best you can with what you can. My son and I are on a new adventure, trying to figure out our life and we’re doing it in the midst of a pandemic. We have at least three weeks to learn how to be together and love each other. I keep thinking there’s a path in life that is pristine and smoothly paved, but there isn’t. Parenting, love, and life are all messy. The trick is to put your heart into it, whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re at and love like your life depends on it.