Being a single parent sucks. Being a single parent while the other parent cannot help “parent” sucks even more. Being a single parent and having to “parent” your husband tops it all.
I try really hard not to complain or sit around with a “woe is me” attitude. It doesn’t do anyone any good. Just the opposite. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort, sometimes it is just a matter of catching myself and sometimes, well, sometimes, I succumb to all that is thrown at us. All it takes is the tiniest little thing. Big things blow by me with little affect. But, let me hear the right song while thinking of the right memory or seeing the right picture, and I am a faucet. Or a tyrant. It depends on the day and the time. Nothing I am proud to acknowledge, but it is part of me and part of this journey. I am far from perfect. But I keep trying. Part of trying is being honest.
I seldom think, “if Jim wasn’t sick, I could do this” or “if Jim wasn’t sick, our lives would be so much better.” I do think about how much better it was with him before all of this started, but I don’t think about the difference our lives would be today.
Until today. For some reason, out of the blue, I had a moment of realizing how different this weekend would be for our family if he was home and well.
First of all, our daughter had a birthday. 15. Our baby will be driving soon. We stopped by to see him on her special day and it was special. He lit up seeing us, as he always does, and he was sad when it was time for us to go. This was new. I think somewhere inside of him he knew that we were going to be celebrating without him. And it hurt. All of us.
A very close friend called a few days ago and invited Frances to go skiing with them. She also invited me. But, Brad had a volleyball game, Jim had a doctor appointment and Brad had a basketball game (I am coaching), so the mature, right choice was to decline my invite. Frances was now enjoying time on the slopes and part of me, most of me, was extremely happy. Frances loves skiing. She loves winter and snow and loves the mountains. I was so very grateful to my friend for taking her along. But there was that selfish voice inside of me pouting that I couldn’t join the fun. I am not even a great skier. A few times down the hill and I am content. It was more about watching Frances and hanging with a good friend I can never spend enough time with. It was a no-brainer decision, but one that would have been vastly different if Jim was still Jim. Jim loves skiing too. He grew up in Connecticut and has skied the Alps and was quite good. He could teach Frances. He could have fun and we could have gone and had a great family weekend, making memories and enjoying winter. We could have done so much…..and yet, here I am, alone while Brad sleeps and I reminisce of past ski trips and other family outings and miss what could have been.
Thankfully, I don’t do this too often, but when I do, it is depressing, while it is comforting. There is a deep satisfaction in remembering the wonderful times we shared, the things we did, the father Jim was, the connections we made. It is hard to let go of such a wonderful relationship.
Then there are the times I miss him being a co-parent. It is tough. 15 and 11 year olds are wonderful and great on so many levels. And then they are not. They are inconsiderate, disrespectful, self-absorbed, lazy, and on and on. For a moment. But in that moment, I realize if Jim was still here, I could tag team with him and not feel the burden of sole parenting. I could bounce things off of him and I could talk through what was annoying me, possibly finding a solution without losing my temper with the kids. Possibly letting him handle something. And in the process, letting the kids have a different perspective and hear a different voice. I am sure they are tired of listening to me. I know I am. I miss Jim’s voice. And his laugher. And his smile. And his strength. And his patience. And his constant presence. He is missed. While he is still alive and still trying hard to be…he is missed.