One of my biggest fears was that I would be a grandmother before I was forty. Not that either of my children gave me a reason to think this way, but I have this uncanny knack of placing the weight of my failures as a burden on the tiny shoulders of my children. I always felt like I disappointed my own mom by not finishing school.
Senior year was rough. The Teen went through a phase where she refused to do homework and misbehaved. For the first time in 12 years of school she had detention. College applications had gone out and each day thin envelopes would greet us in the mail. By spring I was convinced that The Teen would be a permanent resident in my home and The Mister was making noise about the military. The call came on a Friday afternoon. The Teen was crying and I was sure this was the proverbial shoe dropping. I went right to CODE RED.
I couldn’t make out the words she sobbed. “I got it, I got it!”
“Got what? Got what?!” I asked.
She had gotten into our school of choice.
I whispered congratulations to my child and then sank to the floor where I cried for a half an hour.
The tears I cried that day was for her. The tears I cried since then were for me.
I had labored under the delusion that I would finish my Bachelor’s Degree by the time The Teen left high school. After The Boy was born and I begin to advance at work, I was fine settling for an Associate’s Degree. I even went back to the local Community College and enrolled, about 20 credits shy of obtaining that degree but I always got bored with class and other things grabbed my attention. It wasn’t until I was sitting in an auditorium getting information about graduation, Senior Prom, and yearbooks that it hit me.
What happened to the last 18 years?
The time I thought I had for degrees, travel, LIVING was now gone. I had morphed into the women I make fun of: the ones who live so much for their children they become a shell of their former selves, their identity now is Miss-So-And-So’s Mom. These are also the women who wear MOM jeans.
The closer it got to the day she was to leave, the more withdrawn I became. I was not down because she’s leaving. I know she’s not far, just a half a tank of gas, a pack of smokes, and a coffee away. I cried because I felt like I had run out of time.
I thought I had time to teach my child things like: how to identify a bum from a good guy. I thought there was more time to bond with her. I thought I had more time to learn who I was. Now the time had slipped away.
I gave up. My days were me forcing myself out of bed, going through the motions of life, getting back in bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. My big girl panties, my fake it till I made it mindset, my shifting mask was no use. I was doing poorly at keeping up the façade.
Being depressed has a way of putting blinders on life. I couldn’t see past the fog of my failures. Rather, all I could see was that I was a walking dream deferred.
I’m playing Closet Lotto and I can’t find a thing to fit me. Not even my “bloat” dress fits. I’m on the verge of a meltdown when I get mad instead. Not only has depression robbed me of the last weeks with my daughter, my depression is the kind that’s assuaged with food.
I had gotten FAT.
I managed to pull together a fairly decent outfit, located my workout clothes and decided to get my butt back on track.
I always say that Marty McFly and Doc will NOT be showing up with a DeLorean to turn back time. I needed to face the truth. I was turning forty, my kid was leaving, and I wasn’t getting any younger.
As The Teen heads to her next level of life, I too am having my own Renaissance. I have to accept that I can’t change the past, but I can change how my story ends.
I have learned:
1. I need to love myself. I can’t love others if I don’t love myself.
2. To do something nice for myself. This makes loving myself that much easier.
3. To encourage myself. I have to be my OWN cheerleader. No one else will care or cheer me as well as I do.
4. Pat my own back. Not everyone will be happy for your success, but if YOU acknowledge and celebrate these things, then eff everybody else.
5. Never regret anything. Everything happens for a reason. I have some cringe worthy moments in my life, but I know enough to learn that I can’t control the past, but I can control how my story ends.
6. Remember: Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery. Embrace and enjoy today. That is why it’s called the present.