Admittedly, there are lots of things that children can make difficult; sleeping in, dating, staying up past 9 PM, and finding any relevant solo time. For single parents, we don’t get the opportunity to tag team; to switch off when we’re tired, sick, or just downright done. We are on all the time. Middle of the night nightmare cuddles? Yup. Tantrum at the grocery store full of people judging and staring? You better believe it. Phone calls home from school? Absolutely! It’s constant, and it is mentally and physically exhausting and that’s before even going to work.
But, as someone who struggles with having mental health concerns; trauma, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, I really believe that my kids have saved me. There are days when I feel it in my bones, the extreme loneliness, the isolating thoughts from my OCD and depression, the physical and mental scars burning into my flesh that the idea of getting out of bed seems overwhelming. But, knowing that there are three tiny humans who need me, who need their mama to not only be there physically, but to be present in the moment, it fuels me.
Admittedly, we often find ourselves in survival mode; there is so much to do between work and three different schools and meetings and appointments that just getting through the day seems to be more than the average human can muster. Yet, we manage. In our own crazy way, we push and pull through survival to thriving.
There are days that I look at my daughters and I am simply amazed by them, by their strength, their determination. Those two fought to survive and I feel it is my duty as their parent to show them how wonderful and bright the world can be. To show them double rainbows and the wonders of hot chocolate with marshmallows. No, there will be no more surviving for those two. At one time I wasn’t sure Ella would ever see outside, would ever breathe air outside the hospital, and now, there is no stopping the dreams I have for all three of my kids.
And then there’s Braeden, so big it is hard to believe he was born under seven pounds. I see how much he struggles with feelings and how strong they can be; a trait I believe must come from me. To be overwhelmed with feeling is something I know almost daily, but I have learned to adapt and he will too.
Today began as a dark day – tears and hollowness and then my daughters were in the car singing together, and giggling and Braeden skated, something he has been so scared to do and was just so proud. And they lit me up. Those crazy, off the wall monkeys, they keep me grounded and on my toes but they have kept my soul warm and my heart full, and I am the lucky one who gets to be their mama.